129. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Major General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

[General Scowcroft came in late.]2

Kissinger: The problem in Geneva is that the Turks see that the more the negotiations are protracted the more difficult the unilateral military move becomes. The Greeks are procrastinating—they want to go home for 36 hours and then resume discussions. The Turks so far have refused to grant a 36-hour extension because it would make it that much harder to take unilateral action.

President: What would we do if the Turks moved?

Kissinger: We would have to vote against them in the Security Council. We would have our hands full to keep the Greeks from going to war. The Turks right now are extremely nationalistic. For a few years [Page 424]ago, the Turkish tactics are right—grab what they want and then negotiate on the basis of possession. But if the Turks run loose on Cyprus, the Greeks could come unglued. We certainly do not want a war between the two, but if it came to that, Turkey is more important to us and they have a political structure which could produce a Qadhafi.

[Scowcroft left to call Macomber and returned after about 10 minutes.]3

Kissinger: We have been trying to bail the Cyprus situation out after it got out of control. The British have made a mess of it. If the Turks move to take what they want, they will be condemned in the Security Council and the Soviet Union will beat them over the head with it. Some of my colleagues want to cut off assistance to Turkey—that would be a disaster. There is no American reason why the Turks should not have one-third of Cyprus. We will make a statement today that will get the New York Times off our back, but we should not twist their arm.

I would like to mention the Turkish poppy issue. President Nixon signed a letter to Ecevit which, because of Cyprus, we have not yet delivered. We could redo the letter for your signature, or I could send it. I think the whole poppy situation is a loser. Do you want to have a brawl with the Turks, or should I? Maybe I should do it.

President: The other side of the coin is that you already have very good relations with Ecevit and there would be less damage coming from me.

Kissinger: Let’s wait a bit. If we come out of the Cyprus thing all right, we will have more leverage. The Turks can’t focus on it now anyway.

President: Yes. Let’s wait a bit.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Cyprus.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 123, Geopolitical File, Cyprus, Chronological File. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office.
  2. Brackets are in the original.
  3. Brackets are in the original.