201. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • U.S.
  • The Secretary
  • Assistant Secretary-designate Atherton
  • Assistant Secretary Hartman
  • Mr. Dillon, Director, NEA/TUR (Notetaker)
  • Mr. Katzen, French-English Interpreter
  • Turkey
  • Foreign Minister Turan Gunes
  • Turkish Ambassador to the U.S. Melih Esenbel
  • Mr. Ozceri, Chief Aide to Foreign Minister Gunes, Interpreter
  • Mr. Gunden, Turkish Mission to the UN (Notetaker)


  • Turkey: Secretary’s Meeting with Foreign Minister Gunes

The Secretary: You can speak French to me. I understand it but I don’t like to use it with civilized people. (Laughter)

Your Prime Minister is an old student of mine. There’ll be no need to talk to him. We can just tell him what we have decided. He was a very tractable student but slightly revolutionary.

Foreign Minister Gunes: He was also my student.

The Secretary: We Foreign Ministers must stick together. If we don’t, our superiors will think we are fallible—we can’t have that.

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Have you met Mr. Hartman? You know that Turkey is moving to the European Bureau.

Foreign Minister Gunes: Yes. I have met both of these gentlemen (indicating Atherton and Hartman). One Assistant Secretary will be acting for Thrace and one for Anatolia.

The Secretary: You will have to talk to Hartman in Istanbul, not Ankara. (Laughter)

Foreign Minister Gunes: Yes.

I appreciate that the Secretary is busy preparing recommendations for the President, but I am a new Minister and also need to prepare recommendations for my Prime Minister. I know you have been visiting my neighbors and I am sorry you have not been able to stop in Turkey. I would like to hear more about your conversations with my neighbors.

The Secretary: You should still have your old possessions.

Foreign Minister Gunes: I would like to make you happy but we have no intention nor desire to take over those old countries. At the Islamic Summit Conference at Lahore many ministers said the same thing to me. I told them we had no territorial designs.

The Secretary: I would like to stop in Turkey on an early trip to Europe or the Middle East.

Foreign Minister Gunes: Thank you.

The Secretary: With great pleasure.

Foreign Minister Gunes: We have a good friendship with Mr. Macomber in Ankara. He is doing good things for your country there.

The Secretary: That’s the impression we have gotten.

Foreign Minister Gunes: At the 25th Anniversary of NATO, we made many congratulatory statements but maybe we should have waited for more unity of views.2

The Secretary: We wanted to have a declaration not as the French thought for American hegemony in Europe but to prevent isolationism in America. Before the decade is out, our West European friends will regret having made so much trouble for the most pro-Atlantic administration you will see for a long time. If we don’t symbolize our Atlantic relationship for the American people, you will see changes. We still think that at the NATO Ministerial meeting we should have a declaration. We are not so eager any more for one with the European Community.

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Foreign Minister Gunes: As I have said before, we don’t desire differences between America and Europe. We want divergencies removed as soon as possible. Our ties are such that dissolution will not benefit any of us. We have strong ties to Western Europe through NATO. Also, we will become members of the European Economic Community. We do not want to see developments separating Europe and America. We don’t like artificial labels like “Nine”. We want to see the western world as an entity. That’s why I made the joke about waiting for more unity of views before making our statements praising NATO.

The Secretary: Yes, we agree. The western world should be looked at as a unit. We don’t want to see it consumed in internal squabbles.

Foreign Minister Gunes: We have the same views.

The Secretary: Now on other problems. What are your views on Cyprus? I just want it to go away.

Foreign Minister Gunes: I have the same view. It is not just the Cyprus problem but it is a question of our ties with Greece. I don’t want to go into detail on Cyprus. We are trying to have good relations with Greece but right now they are not at their best level. If something happens, don’t be alarmed.

The Secretary: Who is alarmed? What is this?

Foreign Minister Gunes: There may be a big argument.

The Secretary: If I hear about Turkish troops in Salonika, I will be alarmed.

Foreign Minister Gunes: No, it won’t be like that. There is going to be a bit of a brawl but there is no need for the Secretary to be alarmed.

The Secretary: I have plenty of courage but I am not going to get in between Turks and Greeks when they are fighting. I have a principle not to interfere in national sports. But where is this taking place?

Foreign Minister Gunes: Perhaps in the Aegean Sea. But don’t worry, I have made clear to my Greek colleagues that our argument3 must be at the conference table.

The Secretary to Hartman: Do you want the area or should we give it back to NEA?

The Secretary to Foreign Minister Gunes: Seriously, it would be unfortunate if there were a deterioration of relations between Greece and Turkey. There are many countries which would wish to take advantage of the situation.

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Foreign Minister Gunes: Let me say a few words about Cyprus. Our relations with Greece are based on a delicate political economic and military balance. This balance is necessary. We Turks are trying hard to maintain the balance. We want a solution for Cyprus and neighborly relations between Greece and Turkey. This delicate balance has an old history. When it is upset, there are problems between Greece and Turkey.

The Secretary: I don’t know about this situation. I will get a report on the Aegean Sea.

Foreign Minister Gunes: The situation is that we think there is oil under the Aegean. There are Greek islands in the Sea very close to Turkey. The Greeks claim that the continental shelf belongs to them. We both want to explore for oil. The Greeks say that the Sea belongs to them and we say that we should negotiate this question.

The Secretary: Give me 48 hours to look into this problem and I will give you my views.4

The Secretary to Atherton: Did you know about this?

Mr. Atherton: Yes. But we didn’t know it had gotten this serious.

Foreign Minister Gunes: Thank you, but we regard the problem as legal. There will be no clash of armies.

The Secretary: I will give you my views. Our concern is that nothing happen to break the unity of the western world.

Now don’t tow those island out to sea. As a student of Turkish history I know you are given to drastic solutions.

Foreign Minister Gunes: No, no, do not worry. The right is on our side but we are acting with restraint.

The Secretary: On Cyprus, our view is that negotiations should go on.

Foreign Minister Gunes: When our government came to power we went ahead with the negotiations from the spot at which they had arrived.

The Secretary: We believe there should be no preconditions. There should be no preconceived ideas about a unitary or a federal state.

Foreign Minister Gunes: Perfect. We are in agreement.

The Secretary (Referring again to the Aegean Sea): My colleagues never tell me anything because they think I will screw it up.

Foreign Minister Gunes: I see similarities between your colleagues and mine.

The Secretary: Foreign Ministers must stick together.

Foreign Minister Gunes: That’s right. Therefore, I would like to ask you to stop in Turkey.

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The Secretary: I will plan to stop soon on a trip to Europe or the Middle East.

Foreign Minister Gunes: President Nixon saw Prime Minister Ecevit in Paris at President Pompidou’s funeral and expressed hope that he would be able to visit Turkey. Of course such a visit would be a great feather for American-Turkish relations but a visit by you would be an opportunity to talk business.

I want to mention an important problem. Affection between America and Turkey grows every day. But friendly relations are important not just between governments but between peoples. We as a government are trying to foster growth of this affection. Before 12 March 19715 in Turkey some sources said the USA was imperialist and was imposing its will on Turkey. They said that our military cooperation was to Turkey’s disadvantage. Some people began to accept this view. Now we as a government don’t want those things said and we are working against it. That is all I want to say.

The Secretary: The Indian Foreign Minister is waiting and I will have to leave in just a minute. I just want to say that we appreciate a government which defends its national interest because we know those governments have the support of their people. In that situation we have confidence that their basic policies will be in the right direction. The U.S. should have done more for Turkey in the military field but Congress has limited what we have been able to do.

Before you go, I want to say a word about opium. I don’t want to go into detail, but in considering this problem you must look at it in terms of American public opinion. There must be a solution which is acceptable to both sides.

Foreign Minister Gunes: I fully appreciate what you have said. I am fully aware of the implications of the opium problem for American public opinion. We need a solution which will offend neither American nor Turkish public opinion.

The Secretary: Exactly.

Foreign Minister Gunes: I cannot say categorically that we are not going to grow opium poppies but I can say that we are not going to do anything to poison anybody. We are preparing plans which call for the fullest control possible.

The Secretary: I think we both want the same thing. I can tell you that in recent weeks I have learned more than I want to know about opium. I may go into the business myself.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 272, Memoranda of Conversations, Chronological File. Confidential; Nodis. Drafted by Robert Dillon on April 16 and concurred in by Atherton. The meeting was held in the Waldorf Towers. Kissinger was in New York for a special session of the UN General Assembly.
  2. NATO members marked the 25th anniversary of the organization at the June Ministerial Meeting in Ottawa.
  3. The word being used in Turkish, “kavga,” means fight, quarrel, disagreement. The Turkish interpreter used several English words, but in each case Gunes said “kavga.” [Footnote is in the original.]
  4. No formal follow-up was found.
  5. On March 12, 1971, the Turkish military took over the government and forced the resignation of Suleyman Demirel.