Memorandum of Conversation, by the
Officer in Charge of Turkish Affairs (Moore)
- Turkish Views on the NATO Command Relationship
- Mr. Feridun C. Erkin, Turkish Ambassador
- Mr. Burton Y. Berry, Acting Assistant Secretary, NEA
- Mr. C. Robert Moore, GTI
Ambassador Erkin called on Mr. Berry today to discuss with him the Truman–Churchill conversations with particular reference to [Page 177] the Middle East area. Mr. Berry emphasized that the talks had been helpful, that the purpose had not been to take up specific issues and to reach specific agreements, but simply to have a discussion of problems of common concern and with the idea that this would contribute to finding ways in which solutions to problems could be advanced.
With specific reference to the Middle East, Mr. Berry commented that Iran and Egypt had been the principal subjects of discussion. At the meetings the hope was expressed that the IBRD efforts to reach a solution to the Iranian oil problem would be successful. In Egypt the problem is very serious. We continue to base our confidence in the offer contained in the four power approach of last autumn. We plan to move ahead with the other powers in establishing the Middle East Command, believing that when something specific has been created, the Middle Eastern countries will be more inclined to give favorable consideration to participation. We believe the principles of the Middle East Command are good and that the Middle Eastern states eventually will recognize that they are in accord with their own interests.
Ambassador Erkin then asked whether the Command arrangements with respect to Turkey had been discussed. Mr. Berry said that the subject had come up. He added that he understood that the British Government had informed the Turkish Government that it agreed that Turkey should fall under SACEUR. Ambassador Erkin confirmed that Sir Knox Helm, the British Ambassador, had so informed the Foreign Minister several days ago. This he felt was a very desirable development.
The Ambassador referred to another aspect of the Command problem. Some time ago General Grigoropoulos, in discussing with the Standing Group Greek views on the Command organization, had stated that Greece favored an extension of the Carney Command to include Greece. When asked if there was not some alternative arrangement that would be satisfactory, he mentioned the creation of a fourth command under SACEUR. Subsequently Admiral Ulusan outlined the Turkish view which also envisaged the extension of the Carney Command. Admiral Wright had then asked for Admiral Ulusan’s views on the idea of a fourth command. The latter immediately consulted Ankara (Ambassador Erkin was on leave at the time). The Foreign Office cabled the Ambassador that it would accept the idea of a fourth command. However, he felt from the tone of the telegram that the Turkish acceptance was based on the belief that the United States favored such an alternative. On the Ambassador’s instructions, Admiral Ulusan informed Admiral Wright confidently that Turkey would accept the idea of a fourth command, but with great reluctance. At Admiral Wright’s [Page 178] suggestion he also informed General Bradley and the Chief of Naval Operations. General Bradley had replied that he was well aware of the Turkish views and had no intention of forcing any solution on the Turks which they could not find acceptable.
Ambassador Erkin then commented to Mr. Berry that entirely apart from the creation of a fourth command under SACEUR was the question of the “personality” of the Commander. He personally felt that the power contributing the greatest strength to the Command should furnish the Commander. In other words, the country supplying the Commander should have more than simply the “personality” to offer. The matter was not pursued further as it was accepted that the problem of Command arrangements seemed to be proceeding along satisfactory lines towards a solution.
Subsequent to his visit with Mr. Berry, Ambassador Erkin called Mr. Moore to advise him that he had just received a telegram from Ankara confirming that the Turkish Government’s indicated willingness to accept a fourth command under SACEUR stemmed from its belief that the United States had favored such a proposal. The Turkish Government still adheres very strongly to its original position that Admiral Carney’s Command should be extended to include Greece and Turkey and would accept the other alternative with great reluctance. He further commented on his statement with respect to the “personality” of the Commander. He wanted to make clear that he had not meant to imply that a Turk should be appointed as Commander of a fourth Command. He felt this would be as unacceptable to the Greeks as a Greek Commander would be to the Turks. He had in mind that an American would be the most logical choice.