210. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • The Secretary’s Meeting with Turkish Minister Gunes


  • Turkish Participants:
  • Foreign Minister Gunes
  • Ambassador Olcay, Permanent Representative
  • Ambassador Esenbel (to US)
  • Mr. Omer Akbel, Chef de Cabinet to Foreign Minister
  • U.S. Participants:
  • The Secretary
  • Under Secretary Joseph Sisco
  • Assistant Secretary Arthur A. Hartman
  • Mr. Denis Clift, NSC
  • Mr. William Eagleton, EUR/SE (Notetaker)
  • Mrs. Sophia Porson (Interpreter)

Prior to the meeting with the Secretary, Mr. Sisco and Foreign Minister Gunes exchanged some remarks. In answer to a question, Gunes said that elections in Turkey would probably not take place before June

[Page 684]

The Secretary: Which problems should we discuss first? For my part it would be helpful if we had the immigration of one million Turks to the U.S. Until we have some Turkish manifestations, I am in trouble.

Gunes: Like their Minister, the Turks here don’t want to demonstrate.

The Secretary: This is because of the gentle character of the Turks which has been manifested through the centuries.

Gunes: Yes, we are some times too gentle—until we are completely overcome then we must resist.

The Secretary: I used to be fascinated by the Turkish way of administration and expansion before the 19th Century, particularly their ability of getting occupied people to do the work for themselves.

Gunes: We want to continue with the administrative ability without occupying anyone.

The Secretary: Let’s talk of the existing situation. I am in favor of the closest relations between Turkey and the U.S. Your Ambassador can confirm that I am under enormous pressure in Washington because of this.

How do we envisage the next stage in the relations of Greece, Turkey and Cyprus?

Gunes: As I have already expressed to you before I feel strongly the need for friendship between Turkey and the U.S. not because of passing events but because of the world situation. Domestic political problems can only be a passing phase.

Turkey wants friendship also between Greece and Turkey. This has been the platform of our government, to settle outstanding differences, but the Greek Junta did not have responsible leaders with whom to talk. After there was the Cyprus crisis; but our intention is to liquidate disputes with Greece as quickly as possible.

Before getting to concrete issues I want to mention the political situation in Greece. The policies of Greece seem disoriented. They don’t seem to know what they want to do. The situation is fragile and dangerous. Greece has taken the decision to quit NATO. I would have understood if they wanted to change the basis of their foreign policy to have the sympathy of the Soviets or the nonaligned, but they seem not to have reflected seriously on the question. They want to stay in the political side of NATO, but the military organization is of great importance for their defense and for the defense of the west.

They support the Soviet position for the enlargement of the Cyprus conference. They have also adopted nuanced policies toward the Common Market. They seem to have a confused policy.

The Secretary: One has to recognize that the Greek Government took over in very difficult circumstances. It is never easy to handle a military question, but particularly so at the beginning of a government.

[Page 685]

The Greek Government is being attacked from the left and right. They wish to steal enough anti-Americanism from the left and right to pursue a pro-American policy. They would like to get credit for leaving NATO and, at the same time, have the protection of NATO.

If I had been able to talk with your Prime Minister before you went into Cyprus I would have said that it was foreseeable that a non-Junta government would have these problems.

The situation in Greece is unstable. It is our intention to support the Karamanlis Government.

Recognizing the instability, the question is what can be done in the near future on a number of points. First, we have to show some movement to prevent Congressional action. You know we are stretching the law to the outer limits of its interpretation. You are a lawyer and if you analyze the situation you will find it very complex. We don’t do this out of personal affection for my ex-student. We do it because we think the defense of Turkey is in our own interest. But we are now in a disintegrating state of U.S. domestic politics. We have to face realities.

The second problem is in Greece. I understand that it is probable that there will be elections in November. I think what is needed before elections is a sign of progress but not a conclusion because a conclusion would leave Greece in a less favorable situation than in July or August. But progress could leave them better off than today.

So, we have to begin thinking between us about (1) what could be the final outcome, and (2) what can be done between now and the Greek election to show some movement but not a final settlement.

I have talked with Mavros—he speaks well of you.2

Seriously, I thought he was calmer and more reasonable than I had expected—I know the Turks can keep secrets but I am not so sure of my colleagues. I have the impression certain principles can evolve. This would include a federal solution with geographic separation. I think on the whole the Greek attitude is more realistic than it was previously.

As I told your Prime Minister, I am not prepared to ask for Turkish concessions in a vacuum. I know it is difficult for you to restrain your natural impulse to make concessions. But, if you can restrain until you can get progress, I would recommend it that way. You have a choice of mediators—almost as many as for Vietnam. I think that during the month of October a gesture from you might be a good thing. I think it would be best that it be made through us though we do not insist on this. We should begin to think about what that gesture should be. I have no proposition now.

[Page 686]

I will tell you what I told Mavros this morning since it is useful that we be frank in these matters. I told him we can’t be asked to produce miracles. On territory, he said it should be in proportion to the Turkish population. I told him that in my view this was unrealistic—that the territory would have to be more than the proportion of population but less than what is now occupied. This, of course, was my own view.

Gunes: It is mine too.

The Secretary: Before history, I don’t want to be the one to dislodge the Turkish army since it usually takes three centuries to do that.

On refugees I told him the return of some would be possible but not all. This was my opinion.

Gunes: Mine too.

The Secretary: I said the central government should be federal in nature. If the Greeks were willing to accept some principles, then I or the USG would be prepared to talk to Turkey. (A colleague said I should in my speech announce that I would “talk turkey” about Cyprus.)

In that framework we are willing to be helpful. It is also in Turkey’s interest that this not be isolated from other factors. If we are forced to cut aid to Turkey the Greeks will not have the basis for making concessions and we will be in a terrible stalemate.

The present situation is that Mavros said he would have to discuss my approach with Karamanlis. I have made another appointment with Mavros for Sunday. There is nothing for Turkey to do now, since we do not yet know if the Greeks are ready to collaborate.

Gunes: I am almost completely in accord with Dr. Kissinger.

I am here in New York to do something useful. I could have an exchange with Mavros but he should be realistic. We are ready to help Karamanlis with his public opinion. We could set up things to satisfy public opinion in both countries but I wonder if now we can have anything from Mavros. He has made things difficult at the UNGA. I could respond in the same way in my speech today.

The Secretary: But that would be against your nature.

I also said to Mavros (1) if they want a big conference we will do nothing. We do not want the USSR to be seen to have influence in reaching a settlement. Even if we eventually participated in a conference we would do nothing to help it along; (2) we do not want a violent debate on Cyprus in the UNGA. I think Mavros will settle for a resolution to ask the Security Council to look at the problem again. This is the direction in which we are moving but this does not change realities. We will see many unreasonable declarations from the Greek Government.

But I think one of the steps to take by October would be to give the communal talks more political substance. You should not give away concessions for nothing. It would be easier for Athens to agree to something that the Cypriots have first accepted.

[Page 687]

Gunes: I don’t have the intention to make concessions but I know that everyone is beginning to get mixed into the act. Our friends in the Common Market are beginning to get involved too much in political questions. We try to say no to their pressures nicely.

We have put together a collection of little gestures.

The Secretary: I understand. I do not need to know them now. We can talk about what they are later.

Gunes: I want you to understand our methods.

The Secretary: What about some progress before the Greek elections? At the right moment we could give the communal talks more political character. I also told Mavros that they should see to it that Makarios behaves himself in New York—we will see about that. What do you think about giving more political content to the communal talks?

Gunes: They have already begun to discuss political matters in private.

The Secretary: But it could be more visible—not right now.

Gunes: In private they seem to be exchanging maps showing two zones.

To give a résumé: I agree with you that, given the fact that we foresee finding a solution, we must find a way to reach that solution without shocking public opinion in the two countries.

We should not get the issue before too many international bodies.

The Secretary: That is why we must get control of the process. It is important that something real should happen in one of the forums.

Gunes: Yes.

The Secretary: But if there is nothing real the other forums will dominate.

Will you be here next week?

Gunes: I might have to go home to see about my job. I could come back.

The Secretary: I will see Mavros on Sunday.3 It would be useful if I could see you Monday.

Gunes: I think I will still be in New York. Regarding the forum, if Mavros agrees on the major forum it is all right, but if he wants to use all forums it will not be useful. If the Greeks say they want the Soviet proposition and then make eyes at the French to get French support that will not make an important difference as long as they recognize the main forum.

[Page 688]

The Secretary: Can I suggest breakfast on Monday? Do you observe Ramadan?

Gunes: No, in Islam it is not observed when one is at war.

The Secretary: King Faisal prays for me five times a day which is more than he prays for you.

Gunes: You are right.

The Secretary: Is 8 a.m. too early?

Gunes: That is fine. Dr. Kissinger knows that the French press says I am a peasant so I am an early riser.

The Secretary: You should see what the French press says about me!

Gunes: Another problem is the military aid question. The Senate has had a vote which is not binding. This should not influence relations between the U.S. and Turkey. These are too important to be influenced by passing things.

The Secretary: The problem is if we can get something moving we can control Congress. If not they will eventually pass something binding. Your Ambassador understands.

Esenbel: Yes.

The Secretary: I don’t believe in this kind of pressure. It is not a good principle. We give military assistance in our own interest. We will meet with Congressional leaders on Friday4 but it is to some extent out of my control. It is being used against me politically.

Gunes: We should have mutual assistance among politicians. I will do what I can.

The Secretary: I think it is in our common interest. If we can get control, you know how it will go because I have kept you informed of my thinking.

You might also give some thought to the possibility that if we get a big negotiation perhaps it would be best to have a package deal on all issues between Greece and Turkey.

Gunes: I mentioned the Common Market countries, our allies. The British usually see things in a realistic way, but they seem a little disoriented now.

The Secretary: We have had some influence with the British. They have refused to join common pressures on you.

Gunes: I wonder if the Common Market wishes to follow France.

[Page 689]

The Secretary: The British have been quite responsible and I believe they will follow our course. If you and we agree we can get the Federal Republic of Germany to support it.

Gunes: We can do something to help the Greek Government before November but we also have Turkish opinion. I am talking about the Turkish Cypriots who are unable to leave the British bases.

The Secretary: Can we talk about this on Monday?5

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 272, Memoranda of Conversations, Chronological File. Confidential;Nodis. Drafted by Eagleton and cleared in S on September 30. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s suite at the Waldorf Hotel.
  2. See Document 153.
  3. September 29. They met on September 30; see footnote 4, Document 153.
  4. See Document 211.
  5. September 30. No record of this meeting has been found.