204. Telegram From the Embassy in Turkey to the Department of State1

5213. Subject: Meeting With PriMin on Ending of Poppy Ban. Ref: Ankara 5210 (notal); Moscow 10340 (notal).2

I met for one hour, commencing at midnight July 1st, with PriMin Ecevit. Acting FonMin Isik and DCM Spain also present.
Ecevit confirmed that Council of Ministers earlier in evening had approved decree for resumption opium poppy production in six provinces and part of Konya. He said he would be explaining details to Parliament afternoon July 2nd. He added that he was going “to ask the United Nations to give advice and technical assistance, and that all the control measures advised would be taken, and that the Turkish nation will act with full consciousness of its responsibility to the world”.
I said that I must ask, on behalf of my government, that he reconsider this decision. It carried the gravest risks of setting back our battle against heroin and of doing enormous damage to the US-Turkish security relationship. I then emphasized that as result of tonight’s announcement we were already in crisis relationship, and that his government’s proposed action would, in my judgement, bring the US-Turkish relationship to its lowest point since World War II. I also said that while I hoped very much I was wrong, the odds tonight were very strong that US military assistance to Turkey was finished. The US Executive branch, while deeply dismayed, would not, I thought, initiate such a cut off. The Congress, however, would take decision into its own hands.
Isik, supported by Prime Minister, said that reconsideration was politically out of question. “It would result in no government, and no relationship with U.S.” Ecevit added that he “would have thought Turk-American relations ran deeper” than I had suggested. I expressed equal surprise that GOT would take such an action against a friend, and moreover that we should learn of it through a public broadcast. I then let it be known that active consideration was being given in Washington to my being immediately recalled for consultation, remarking [Page 670] that my departure just before hosting 4th of July party would inevitably be widely noted.
Ecevit turned conversation back to sincerity of GOT re developing fool-proof surveillance system. I stressed that if poppies grown at all, Congress likely have little faith in effectiveness of any proposed controls. Ecevit said again that irrevocable government decision taken that poppies would be grown, but he would welcome all advice on controls and asked what I would suggest.
I reiterated that even smallest amount of poppy growing likely to have most serious consequences in US-Turk relationship. Obviously, however, if he were prepared to grow only a very small amount at start, surround it with massive surveillance, and expand only after soundness of controls had been proven to satisfaction of international community—this might possibly make Congressional problem slightly more manageable. I added that if the poppy growing area at start was so minute as to obviously present almost no danger of significant diversion into illicit channels, I personally would urge USG to continue subsidy for the much larger proportion of those former poppy farmers not being permitted to resume cultivation. I said that by growing even a small amount he would have made good on his election pledge. At same time severe limitation of the kind I was suggesting might make problem somewhat more manageable at our end. I then added that if GOT absolutely determined to resume cultivation, an even better alternative would be to wait the three years necessary to develop a brachtiatum program, and maintain the ban until then.
Ecevit responded that my suggestions (especially the first one) merited serious consideration and he would take them to his government in the morning. He added that in both his explanation to Parliament and in a major television appearance on Eurovision evening July 2nd he would seek to reassure Congress by emphasizing his government’s intention to limit and control production. I said I appreciated effort but doubtful of its success.
At conclusion of conversation Isik, supported by Prime Minister, expressed hope that official USG spokesman, while regretting GOT decision, would add expression of confidence that a proven ally would act responsibly re surveillance effort. I said latter would not be possible.
Comment: Decision comes as bitter disappointment, especially as we convinced that in past few weeks, for first time, US position was gaining adherents within Turkish Government.
During my recent Washington consultations3 there was, I believe, general agreement that every effort should be made to
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  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 634, Country Files, Middle East, Turkey, Vol. IV. Confidential; Flash;Exdis. Sent also Niact Immediate to Moscow for Saunders and Hartman. Repeated Immediate to New Delhi, Bangkok, Islamabad, Kabul, Adana, Istanbul, Izmur, the U.S. Mission in Geneva, and USUN.
  2. Telegrams 5210 from Ankara, July 1, reported that Turkey had rescinded the poppy ban. In telegram 10340 from Moscow, July 1, the Secretary’s party requested confirmation and consultation from the Embassy in Ankara. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1974)
  3. Macomber returned to Washington on May 15 for a CENTO meeting.