198. Telegram From the Embassy in Turkey to the Department of State1
Ankara, November 3, 1973, 0932Z.
8681. Subj: Continued Soviet Overflights of Turkey. Ref: A) Ankara2
- Summary: In meeting morning November 3, and after I raised points outlined reftels, Bayulken told me that in view of U.S. NATO- oriented concerns re overflights and in view of fact that numbers had exceeded figure he had given me, GOT would promptly re-examine situation and he would report back to me as soon as he could. End summary.
- I met Saturday morning with Foreign Minister Bayulken pursuant to reftels. I said that I had sought appointment at Dept’s request to reiterate USG concern over imbalance GOT treatment of USG and [Page 656] Soviet Government during present Middle East crisis. I specifically contrasted GOT unwillingness for Incirlik to be used in connection with crisis while at same time permitting Soviet overflights. I added that USG was concerned by failure on part of allies fully to comprehend the danger to NATO itself of divisive shift in strategic balance in Middle East and that we were therefore surprised by Turkish actions in facilitating these Soviet shipments. I noted that the number of overflights had exceeded by over one hundred percent the figures he had conveyed to me in our last meeting. I also noted that Turk Ambassador in Washington, Esenbel, had told Dept that he understood flights had ended whereas our information was that they were continuing. I referred to Article 3 of the Chicago Convention and said that in the light of this and of past practices there was no way that USG could be convinced that GOT did not control who used its air space. I said that quite apart from concerns I had earlier noted we were troubled by precedent which GOT was establishing vis-à-vis Soviet overflights in the situation.
- I then referred to USIS Wireless File 209 (date Nov 2)3 and read to him background statement by senior unidentified Defense official re Turkey overflight situation, noting that in public we were in effect defending Turkey’s actions because we did not believe that U.S.-Turkish relations would be served by speaking publicly with the same candor I was employing privately and directly with him.
- I ended presentation by saying that, in view of foregoing concerns, USG would like to know what GOT’s intentions were re continuing Soviet overflights.
- Bayulken was clearly uncomfortable during the presentation. He first attempted to say that if Turkey had understood it was NATO problem they would have taken different attitude, but that they had considered matter simply domestic Middle East struggle in which Soviets were helping their friends and U.S. were helping their friends, and Turkey thought it best to stay out of dispute.
- I pointed out that in beginning our discussions I had noted that problem was larger than simple Middle East dispute and that if power balance in this area changed as result of Soviet intervention this would clearly have adverse consequences elsewhere. (I reminded him that, in our earlier conversations, he had agreed with this point.) I also referred to the concerns Ambassador Rumsfeld had expressed in NATO councils. Finally, I said that, of all NATO partners, Turkey instinctively should be in best position to recognize threat to shift of power balance in its own back yard.
- Bayulken then inquired: “What about all those KC–135 flights at Incirlik.” I reiterated that if there were any materials at Incirlik which we needed in connection with Middle East situation these were being moved from Incirlik to another country and deployed from there. I noted that this being done at very great inconvenience to USG in deference to GOT wishes, and this transfer of resources was what the C–135 flights were concerned with.
- Bayulken said he was sure USG understood the delicate position that Turkey was in. He expressed the belief that we did not really want to see a Turkish crisis with the Soviets. If such a crisis took place, he noted, it would directly involve USG as well, for U.S. was Turkey’s NATO partner and closest friend”. In response, I said that USG did not believe that way to get along with Soviets was to have appeasement policy toward their demands, that in the long run it was better to stand up to them right from the start.
- Conversation then concluded with Bayulken making two points: first, he expressed great appreciation for the public posture that we were taking and which I had reported to him; second, that he was not aware of how many overflights there had been and that on the basis of my belief that they were over double what he had indicated to me, and in view of USG conviction that these flights were carrying war materials and were continuing, GOT would undertake, as a NATO partner, to look into the matter right away and that he would report back to me as soon as he could.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 633, Country Files, Middle East, Turkey, Vol. III. Secret; Priority; Exdis.↩
- Telegrams 8619 from Ankara, November 2, and 216995 to Ankara, November 3, discussed the number of Soviet overflights, which were twice what Turkey had estimated, and sent instructions for Ambassador Macomber’s next meeting with Turkish officials.↩
- Not found.↩