156. Minutes of Secretary of State Kissinger’s Staff Meeting1

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Cyprus.]

Mr. Hartman: On the UN debate on Cyprus, we now have three points of view. The Turks are still very anxious to get a postponement, think it would be better to have a meeting after your visit. Also they have been further delayed I think in forming their government.

Secretary Kissinger: What happened to DEMIREL?

Mr. Hartman: We haven’t a report yet. They are still holding their conference as of today.

We have talked to Bitsios,2 whose view is that it is better to get it over before your visit and come out with a moderate conclusion, because he is afraid that if they do something—if the Turks give some con [Page 525] cession when you go there, and then there is a debate, that that might be used, some statements during the debate might be used by the Turks to say that they can no longer go ahead with those concessions.

There is a third problem in that Bouteflika3 says he has already had one postponement and he is very anxious to schedule debate. And he has given no support at all to the Turkish approaches. And our people I think need some further instruction about whether they should go directly to Bouteflika, to try and get this thing postponed until the

It was mentioned again by Ecevit yesterday, in his talk with Bill Macomber.4

Mr. Sisco: Since the Turks were having some confusion. Late last night Scali called me. The Turkish Ambassador in New York is not on the same wicket as his own government, so we have to straighten that out. He thought a delay from October 21 to the 28 was all the Turks were talking about. I explained to John that was not the case.

Secretary Kissinger: But there are some governments where Ambassadors do what the Prime Ministers want. And if the Prime Minister wanted November 11, I am inclined to go with the Prime Minister.

Mr. Sisco: I am, too. Except he didn’t seem to be aware of it. That is the point I am making.

Mr. Hartman: Bitsios says there have been some talks about what the resolution should say, and thinks they can come out with a moderate one that the Turks could abstain on. I am not so sure that the situation is that controllable, once it gets started up there, and the Greeks can actually come through with a moderate resolution.

We can discuss that.

Secretary Kissinger: Well, the idea seems to have gotten into people’s heads that, one, we overthrew Makarios, two, that we are doing it to establish a NATO base, and therefore we are going to get all the non-aligned against us, and the Turks are going to be isolated.

Mr. Hartman: But there seems to be some pulling of punches by the Arabs. I think a moderate resolution can get through. But it is the debate that will have some elements in it that will be unhelpful.

Secretary Kissinger: Well, I don’t suppose we can be the leaders in getting it delayed.

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Mr. Hartman: They have taken the initiative, and we have to be sure that they have taken the initiative with this November 11 date in mind.

Mr. Sisco: Mr. Secretary, I think we have pretty well done what we can do. I myself feel that this October 28 date is not going to get turned off. We have made our position clear. Bouteflika is absolutely adamant on this. At the most, I would suggest a low, low key approach to Bouteflika. John could call him and say what about all this. But I don’t think we are going to be able to pull this thing off, because the Greek view is very strong on this. Bitsios said we really want this on the 28th. My advice is not to expend too much energy and capital on this, because it is a losing fight. We have done what the Turks have asked us to do. They realize that the cards are stacked against us.

Secretary Kissinger: What?

Mr. Sisco: Namely, we have indicated our support for a delay.

Secretary Kissinger: To whom?

Mr. Sisco: To, I think, the Secretary General. Bill—I think we told it to someone there.

Mr. Buffum: The Secretary General.

Secretary Kissinger: In what form have we told it to the Secretary General?

Mr. Buffum: Scali has been talking to him. But Bouteflika is the key on this.

Secretary Kissinger: When you say Scali has been talking to him, what exactly has Scali said? Has he said we recommend a delay, or has he sort of said wouldn’t it be nice if you could think up a delay?

Mr. Sisco: My understanding is that he has said that we support the Turks in a desire for a delay.

Mr. Buffum: That is my understanding. We do not have a written report. Just based on a phone call to Joe last night.

Mr. Sisco: We have got to call him again this morning. As I say, the Turkish Ambassador is quite confused.

Mr. Buffum: I agree with Joe. The chances of delaying it further are very slim, because of the heavy Greek pressure to go ahead and Bitsios’ departure this weekend for New York, plus a very heavy plenary schedule that Bouteflika has to manage.

Mr. Sisco: I might add something else, Mr. Secretary. In the cable that came in yesterday,5 reporting our latest conversation with Ecevit, Ecevit I think has pretty well concluded that he is now faced with an even more delicate situation. First, the congressional action. Secondly, [Page 527] what I found interesting is that I think he does assume that some kind of a resolution is going to be adopted before any trip on your part.

Secretary Kissinger: Let’s forget about the trip.

Mr. Sisco: Let me just make this point. He nevertheless said that he would try to do—try to be as helpful as possible—

Secretary Kissinger: We are going to drive the Turks into rapid nationalist neutralism by our stupid diddling around. That is what we are going to do. And by our cowardly behavior in every respect. That is what the end result of it is. And three years from now no one needs to claim any responsibility, because you will never be able to pinpoint what happened. This is my concern.

Mr. Sisco: Yes. And Ecevit in effect said this.

Secretary Kissinger: There is no way you can read the Ecevit cable—it is like ’56 with the British. We were all congratulating ourselves, I am sure, in this building on the heroic thing we did with the British and French, and how we got world opinion on our side, and all the other great platitudes, and 70 percent of the troubles we have had with them since have been caused by our brutality in ’56.

Mr. Sisco: But this is a totally different situation.

Secretary Kissinger: This is not at all a totally different situation, because the end result, that the Turks can only conclude, is that, sure, I’m a nice guy, the President is a nice guy—and we cannot manage our domestic situation. Foreign governments deal with foreign governments. Secondly, whenever we step up to a problem, we just sort of—we say the right things, we want to do the right things. But somehow we just cannot deliver. You combine that with the reports we get from the Middle East. Everybody thinks I’m a great guy, the President means well— it’s just a great pity that this damned government cannot do anything. And if you think a great power can conduct its foreign policy this way, then you are on the wavelength of my former colleagues at Harvard.

Mr. Sisco: I think the practical result may be the same. When I said that the situation is different, you had there in Suez a specific executive branch policy. Now the situation with respect to the executive policy is distinctly different from the Congress. They understand this. I am not saying that they can discount this.

Secretary Kissinger: The fact is that the Turks looking at this have to conclude they must make themselves independent of the United States. When Ecevit said yesterday—he said it absolutely correctly. He said “Usually it is said that people get along and governments do not; this is a case where governments get along and the people are determined to do this to us, first on poppies and now on this.” What conclusion can a Turkish Prime Minister draw from that? “I will take it now, I will grit my teeth and take it. But this is not a reed on which I can lean, and I must work and move heaven and earth never again to get into this [Page 528] position.” That is the conclusion. It has nothing to do with whether he likes you, whether he likes me. I am undoubtedly extremely popular with the Turkish Government. They will do as much for me as they can possibly do. If we want to get the foreign policy of the United States, with all the nonsense of institutionalization, if you want to gear it to one man, by saying everyone else is irresponsible in the country, then we are doing fine. But that is no basis for the foreign policy of a great country.

And now to me, this vote, it doesn’t make any difference, but we are sort of ineffectually bumbling around in New York. I am not sure that Scali has even said anything that means anything. Are you? Honestly.

Mr. Buffum: I don’t know, Mr. Secretary.

Secretary Kissinger: You know damned well that Scali wants the debate. At any rate, that Scali is not going to fight with Bouteflika and Waldheim on this.

Mr. Buffum: I think it is a matter of confusion in part because of the Turkish delegation. They really—

Secretary Kissinger: I wanted us to be on record that we support a delay. Have we done that?

Mr. Sisco: Yes.

Secretary Kissinger: In a way that everybody understands?

Mr. Sisco: You mean if you are talking about the whole General Assembly, no.

Secretary Kissinger: Not the whole General Assembly. I want the Turks to have at least the feeling that we responded to them in something other than bureaucratic talk. Have we done that? Well, have we done it? You ought to know that. It is your department.

Mr. Buffum: We have to clarify the picture this morning with Scali.

Secretary Kissinger: We have been talking about this for a week. Has he done anything in the week?

Mr. Buffum: He just got the cable yesterday with the final instructions on delay.6

Secretary Kissinger: The objective reality is that when you have a problem for a week, do nothing with it, that then the momentum becomes irreversible. Well, I don’t give much of a damn. You can make many arguments why the debate would be one way or the other. I am impressed by some of these arguments. But—

Mr. Sisco: Well—

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Secretary Kissinger: Have we ever told the Greeks clearly that we think it would be better to have a delay?

Mr. Buffum: Categorically, and why.

Secretary Kissinger: And do the Turks know what we have done— which is where we have got our historic problem?

Mr. Sisco: I think they do.

Secretary Kissinger: Has anyone in this building considered what will happen if there is an Israeli-Syrian war next summer and the Russians try to intervene, how we can operate in the Eastern Mediterranean, without the Turks?

Mr. Brown: Or the Portuguese.

Secretary Kissinger: Or the Portuguese.

Mr. Sisco: We will make doubly certain the Turks know.

Mr. Hartman: I talked to Esenbel yesterday.

Mr. Sisco: I think, Mr. Secretary, you can be reassured on that.

Mr. Hartman: He told me actually that he thought his colleague in New York did not understand his instructions.

Mr. Sisco: That’s right.

Secretary Kissinger: Do the Turks know that we have tried to do something?

Well, let Scali in a low-key way talk to Bouteflika on the ground that I may be going there. I know Bitsios’ concern—he won’t get his concessions after a debate, which is another way of saying if he has Turkish concessions, he may have to be restrained in the debate. He can avoid his fear by arranging an unrestrained debate. What the Greeks want is an unrestrained debate and Turkish concessions. And even better—make it look as if the Turks were beaten into the concessions by a combination of the UN and the American Congress, depriving the U.S. of any capability of claiming any leadership role. That is what the Greeks really want.

Mr. Buffum: By setting up a resolution—

Secretary Kissinger: And you saw Ecevit’s great concern already in his cable saying “If I make concessions, please make sure that you say I had already agreed to them before the congressional vote.”

So now we are arranging a UN vote on top of it. I mean not we. But that seems to me to be the great strategy, to try to humiliate the Turks.

Mr. Buffum: It is their compensation for the military debate. They have political support, particularly for the withdrawal issue, which is going to be the most sensitive, I believe.

Secretary Kissinger: Three years from now, when the Greeks have a communist government, and the Turks have been forced off Cyprus, and there is a communist outfit sitting on Cyprus, we are all going to [Page 530] scream that Kissinger should have said something against Sampson, and then all of this would have been avoided—or some other profound thing that goes by the name of foreign policy.

I am not saying the Greeks would have a communist government. But the fact that in Greece things will be as in Portugal is at least 40–60. And I think the result will be if there is a very tough resolution, it will make it harder to get Turkish concessions. If Turkish concessions occur anyway, they will be conceived by the Turks as a humiliation. In time, we will be seen as having objectively colluded with all these forces, and the end result of all of this is going to be a wild Turkish nationalism that decides above all to be free of the United States—“Whatever else you do, get the Russians, you can get anybody you can rely on, but not the United States.”

That will be the sequence that will be unleashed. It won’t be visible for a year—but that is the certain result of what is happening. And a UN resolution after the Turks have offered some concessions is totally different from a UN resolution which the Greeks will then claim was the chief factor in bringing about Turkish concessions. Between the combination of the Congress and the UN, it will be claimed that the U.S. Government did nothing.

Mr. Buffum: It is also going to require you to choose up sides, Mr. Secretary, at the time when that will be the most awkward of all. We will have to vote. And probably it will be for a resolution that the Turks cannot support and that the Greeks are pushing.

Mr. Sisco: It is very likely that is the situation, because I think most of the elements are going to be okay. I am not quite as optimistic as Hartman is. I think we are going to have great trouble with the withdrawal paragraph. Notice the way we put those principles. Even the mention of the word, and he came back with Paragraph 4 of the Geneva Declaration.

Secretary Kissinger: But even if the Greeks get all the principles we have been talking about into the UN resolution, we will be deprived of every American credit for it, and therefore we will not have any impact in Greece. And the main reason why we are doing it, which is to ameliorate the situation in Greece, will be totally destroyed.

Mr. Sisco: Well, I think that the Greeks have some interest, Mr. Secretary, assuming we can get these concessions from the Turks—I think the Karamanlis Government has some interest in giving the United States Government some credit. Obviously this is our line. Because they are going to play it both ways.

Secretary Kissinger: The Karamanlis Government has obviously turned on the AHEPA group. This was perfectly plain in talking to the AHEPA group. Now they are doing it in the UN. At the same time they want total support from us. It is impossible. We cannot operate that way.

[Page 531]

Mr. Hartman: The AHEPA group was much more extreme than the Greek Government.

Mr. Sisco: Very extreme.

Mr. Hartman: Can I raise our other favorite country?

Secretary Kissinger: You better tell Scali to make it clear—and you better make clear to Bitsios, it is going to be very hard for me to go to Ankara if they insist on a debate before. I just don’t see—just tell them they can go ahead, we will not make an open fight against it, but it is going to be difficult.

Mr. Buffum: It is also going to raise a very sensitive question, Mr. Secretary, what we say during the debate during that period when you will be out of the country. People will be looking for us for full public exposé of our position in the Assembly.

Secretary Kissinger: If I am going to Ankara, we are not going to also publicly beat up on the Turks. For what? Can somebody explain to me what for? For what United States interest? To make Brademas happy? What is the United States interest? In what respect is my analysis wrong? If my analysis is wrong, let somebody put it forward and we will change our policy. What are we gaining in Greece compared to what we are losing in Turkey?

Mr. Sisco: I did not interpret what Bill said, Mr. Secretary, that any statement that we would make would be intended to beat up on the Turks. I think we ought to by very, very careful, indeed.

Mr. Buffum: That was not my intention.

Secretary Kissinger: I am not blaming Bill. I am saying if we are forced to take a stand, we will either get into again massive trouble domestically here, or we will get into massive trouble internationally. On the withdrawal issue, what are we going to say?

Mr. Buffum: I think we just have to stick to the formulation we got in the first round in Geneva.

Secretary Kissinger: Which is no longer acceptable to the Turks.

Mr. Sisco: But that is the maximum we can go at this point.

Mr. Buffum: Reduction rather than withdrawal.

Secretary Kissinger: But that may force us to vote against the resolution.

Mr. Buffum: Again, that puts us in a highly partisan position at just the wrong time.

Secretary Kissinger: That is right. And hard to explain. Very hard to explain. We will have a murderous time with Congress, and with the AHEPA group, if we don’t vote for withdrawal. But if we do vote for withdrawal, anything that is done in Ankara will not redound to our credit. I don’t mean to our personal credit. What we have to do is [Page 532] to show the Greeks that only by working with the United States can they get something. But they are having it all ways.7

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Cyprus.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Transcripts of Henry Kissinger’s Staff Meetings, Entry 5177, Box 5, Secretary’s Staff Conference. Secret.
  2. Bitsios replaced Mavros as Foreign Minister after Mavros resigned on October 16 to focus on the November election campaign. According to telegram 7528 from Athens, October 16, Kubisch was scheduled to have lunch with Bitsios on October 17; no record of this meeting has been found. (Ibid., Central Foreign Policy Files, 1974)
  3. Abdelaziz Bouteflika, Algerian Foreign Minister and representative of the Non-Aligned Movement, was President of the 29th Session of the UN General Assembly.
  4. The meeting was reported in telegram 8270 from Ankara, October 21. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1974, P850095–2143)
  5. See footnote 4 above.
  6. Not found.
  7. The General Assembly met from October 28 to November 1, at which time it adopted Resolution 3212 by a vote of 117–0. Resolution 3212 called for respect for Cyprus’ sovereignty, removal of foreign troops, return of refugees, cooperation with UNFICYP, and the involvement of the Secretary General in a solution. (Yearbook of the United Nations,