211. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • The President
  • Secretary Henry A. Kissinger
  • Senator Mike Mansfield
  • Senator Hugh Scott
  • Senator William Fulbright
  • Senator George Aiken
  • Senator Hubert Humphrey
  • Congressman Thomas O’Neill
  • Congressman John Rhodes
  • Congressman Thomas Morgan
  • Congressman Peter Frelinghuysen
  • L/General Brent Scowcroft
  • Mr. William Timmons


  • Bipartisan Leadership Breakfast with the President
[Page 690]

The President: I appreciate Mike’s holding the Foreign Assistance Bill so we could talk over Turkish aid, the Foreign Assistance Bill and the Trade Bill.

Doc, you approved the modified Turkish language.

Congressman Morgan: It passed by a vote of 19 to 11.

The President: I hope we can make it stick on the floor. Then, Mike helped get the same into the Senate aid bill. Henry, would you explain the situation we are in.

Secretary Kissinger: Let me do two things—explain the diplomacy and then the legal situation.

The Greek domestic situation is extremely complex. Karamanlis is caught between anti-US forces on the left and right. There is Papadopoulos on the left (who was strong enough in ‘67 to stimulate a coup); and on the right are the military types from the junta.

Karamanlis and Mavros are personally pro-US. They talk differently, however, for public consumption.

Congressman O’Neill: How did the junta judge so wrong on Cyprus?

Secretary Kissinger: We got no high-level warning of the coup. Neither did Makarios. We earlier had had some rumors which we passed to him.

The junta made a basic wrong judgment. They thought in terms of the 1964 situation. But in 1964 there was a strong Cyprus government and a popular Greek government. And as a result of ‘64, the Turks vowed never would they let it happen again. The junta was living in a dream world—in the early days after the coup it wouldn’t give concessions to keep the Turks from invading.

Karamanlis is trying to steal support from the left and the right before the November elections. Take his actions with respect to NATOKaramanlis is trying to steal the thunder from the left. He has really done a minimum. Mavros was upset because he was the only foreign minister called on in New York. He thought it wouldn’t look good back home.

The Greeks know the outcome will be worse than on July 15. Any conceivable outcome before the elections would have to be of a character which would hurt them. They hope in a negotiation to wrap in other issues with Turkey. It was our judgment that there was nothing we could have done which would have stopped the second Turkish offensive.

Immediately after the second attack began, we invited both Prime Ministers here or offered to send Ambassador Bruce to meet with them. These were all rejected.

We told Karamanlis that we understood the need for some anti-US propaganda, but there was danger it would prevent us from helping [Page 691] them. He quieted it down thereafter. Then Karamanlis asked for a private emissary. We sent Tyler.2 Karamanlis told him that in direct negotiations, he would have to ask far too much. He gave us a list of what he would need in direct negotiations and then gave us a smaller list of demands which he said he could get by with in direct negotiations. Then he said he would rather not be involved at all—so he wouldn’t have to accept the responsibility. He could accept a communal talks outcome which he couldn’t accept if he were directly involved.

At the same time, we took the foreign assistance legal interpretation to the Turks and told them we would have to implement it if there were no progress in the negotiations and on poppies. (They have now agreed on the straw process.) The Turks have now agreed that when the Greeks give the signal, they will make some concessions. That would be used to elicit a statement of principles and would permit communal talks, plus some refugee returns. This would be in October. Then, after the November elections, the talks would be broadened.

The Greek problem is presentational. Mavros was very friendly with me and asked for economic and military aid—but publicly he has had to make some troublesome statements. He told me he would get Makarios under control. He asked privately that I go to Turkey to bring back a concession, but they are reluctant to ask me publicly. But all this is tactics. Both the Greeks and Turks substantially agree on this general process.

In Turkey, Ecevit has a government problem because his coalition wanted annexation in Cyprus. He is looking for a partner who would be willing to negotiate with Greece.

Greece is willing to give Turkey 20% of the island, and the Turks are willing to reduce their holding to 33%. Somewhere in between will work.

We are ready to use leverage on Turkey (whatever you think of our policy), but if we cut off aid ahead of time we will lose that leverage. If we are tough beforehand, the Greeks—who will be tough negotiators anyway—would have leverage over us. With an aid cutoff, the Greeks would expect concessions no one could get them. These restrictions would lose us the Turks without helping the Greeks and destroy this process I have been describing. It is going pretty well really— but it will move in fits and starts. Cutting off aid doesn’t help the Greek moderates because it cuts their maneuvering room—they can’t point to objective necessities for compromise.

[Page 692]

The legal provisions are such that we can and probably should cut off aid. We could avoid the cutoff by the following (read from talking paper):3

  • —Find the Turks not in substantial violation
  • —Self-defense
  • —Treaty of 1960 creates doubt
  • —Law applies to future, not past action

The President felt we should not make a strained legal interpretation without talking with you. Even if we cut off, does it apply to pipeline, and how about the $50 million grant exception? A cutoff without the pipeline cutoff would infuriate the Turks without leaving any effect for a year.

The negotiations timetable can’t be speeded. All of this represents the nature of our problem and why we don’t want an automatic cutoff but rather to use the threat of it for leverage.

The President: This is why the amendment of yesterday is good.

Senator Fulbright: What is it?

Secretary Kissinger: The CR Amendment required “substantial progress.” This gives the Greeks the opportunity to say at any time there isn’t any. The language in yesterday’s amendments call for “good faith efforts by the Turks.”

Congressman Morgan: You saw the Post editorial?

Secretary Kissinger: Yes. It is not accurate. I haven’t done anything about the legal opinions.

Senator Aiken: How do we respond to our Greek friends?

Secretary Kissinger: I spoke with AHEPA a while back4 and while they were good in private, they went right out to lobby for a cutoff.

Congressman Frelinghuysen: The fight isn’t over. Brademas will continue to fight. His argument is the amendment was designed to get some troops moved off Cyprus.

Secretary Kissinger: We could make a shyster interpretation—pull out 5,000 troops and declare substantial progress. We don’t want to do it that way.

Congressman Frelinghuysen: The whole thing is a PR move to pacify feelings.

[Page 693]

Secretary Kissinger: Once the Turks know we are playing games like pulling out a few troops, we will lose our leverage with them.

Congressman Frelinghuysen: How do we get out of complying with the act?

Secretary Kissinger: The minimum compliance would be to cut off credit and all grants above $50 million, and have the pipeline alone. But this would force the Turks to a nationalistic posture in which no Turk could give concessions—and the Greeks wouldn’t want to make concessions in such a situation because they would want to wait to see what effect the cutoff was having.

Congressman Frelinghuysen: But we don’t have an ideal solution and the House vote shows clearly what the sentiment is.

Congressman Rhodes: Brademas told me not to make him roll us again—because he can and will. What we need is a Senate action on CR first so we can bring something in conference.

Secretary Kissinger: Our lawyers say the House Committee action would override the language in the Foreign Assistance Act.

We should have some action going by the time the recess is over.

Congressman O’Neill: Could you talk with the Greek Congressmen?

Senator Mansfield: We have the amendment now and will try to hold it as is for conference.

Congressman Rhodes: That is what we need.

Secretary Kissinger: If we had the House language on the CRA there would be daily arguments about what was “substantial” progress and the Greeks would gain great leverage.

Congressman Rhodes: How about stressing the effect on NATO. We need both Greece and Turkey.

President Ford: Sure. Turkey could take the same NATO action as the Greeks.

Secretary Kissinger: The potential for the Turks getting out of NATO is greater than Greece. There is no sympathy with Americans in Turkey and there is always the possibility of a Qaddafi-type coup. If the Turks should throw in with the Arabs, we would be in trouble.

Senator Humphrey: We have a problem of cosmetics: There must be some action showing something is going on that we can point to. We can make a case if we have something to point to. Remember, there is a US election in November, too.

Secretary Kissinger: Our dilemma is that the Turks are willing to grant some concessions, but the Greeks have asked that we don’t do it now because they want it close to their election and not so far in front they have to deliver something else by November.

Senator Humphrey: Can we say within 30 days?

[Page 694]

Secretary Kissinger: If the Greeks think we are under pressure, they may back off.

Congressman Rhodes: But the Turks are mad now about the Congressional action. If they make concessions now, it looks like they are caving under pressure.

Senator Humphrey: We have already gone through a period in this country where we have ignored the law. It just won’t work. We need something.

Senator Mansfield: I would be prepared to go with the Brooke Amendment.

Senator Fulbright: I prefer to put the amendment on the authorization rather than the CRA. Of course I am opposed to the whole bill. This Cyprus negotiation is a British problem. These amendments would get us into another dispute where we don’t belong. Let the UN handle it. They can’t do any worse than we.

Senator Humphrey: It’s not a UN problem. It’s a NATO problem.

Senator Fulbright: The problem is we are using foreign aid to get us involved in every dispute around the world.

Senator Mansfield: Our policy in Cyprus has been good. There are all sorts of dangerous possibilities in this situation. I oppose aid but I want to support our diplomacy.

Senator Fulbright: I oppose doing it through the CRA. After all, the bill has more money, but it does have a number of restrictive amendments.

Congressman Rhodes: Hubert has identified the immediate problem. Can we tell the Turks the law is such, and that we will have to comply by a certain time.

Congressman Frelinghuysen: I don’t think the Brooke–Hamilton approach will be accepted unless we do something with the Turks.

Secretary Kissinger: Our dilemma is the Greeks don’t want it now.

Senator Scott: It will be as much trouble after the election as now.

The President: There are two bills: the authorization tomorrow and the CRA Monday.

Senator Fulbright: Why not take it to the UN. Then we wouldn’t have all of the responsibility.

The President: The Greeks and the Turks both trust us.

Secretary Kissinger: Giving it to the UN is a pro-Turk move because the UN can’t do anything and the situation would freeze as it is. If we move away from the Turks, the Soviet Union will probably move toward them. Turkey is more important to the Soviet Union than Greece.

Senator Fulbright: Turkey has always been afraid of the Soviet Union. They wouldn’t turn to them.

[Page 695]

Senator Mansfield: No, you are wrong. They would turn to the Soviet Union and the Arabs.

The President: The Greek government won’t publicly acknowledge to the US Greeks they don’t want movement now. We both have elections and they must understand if they don’t call off the US Greeks, it will hurt the Greek position.

Senator Mansfield: How about a token Turk reduction of

Senator Humphrey: Maybe we could dump all the bad stuff on the Authorization to let people vent their spleen and then negotiate it out of the CRA.

Senator Mansfield: We will probably take up the Authorization Tuesday.5

Senator Humphrey: The House has a mild amendment on the Authorization and if the Senate puts a tough amendment on the Authorization, but not on the CRA, then we can negotiate a good CRA.

The President: Then, by the time the recess is over, there may be some progress and we could take care of it in the Authorization.

Senator Aiken: To summarize—all this maneuvering must be kept from the public.

Congressman Rhodes: How is the US Greek Community divided?

Secretary Kissinger: The responsible ones are for Karamanlis and the demonstrators are for Papadopoulos.

Congressman Rhodes: Suppose Iakovos6 met with the President and then made a good statement.

Congressman O’Neill: Before the coup the Greek Congressmen were out of touch with the US-Greeks—who supported the junta. Now they want to get back in touch with their constituents by being tough.

The President: We will put tough language in the Senate Authorization and keep the Senate CRA with the Brooke Amendment. Then after the recess, progress would get us off the hook.

So it’s crucial to get to Iakovos.

Congressman Rhodes: I think it would add to our problems to put a tough amendment on the Senate bill.

[Omitted here is unrelated discussion.]

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 124, Geopolitical File, Cyprus, Chronological File. Secret. The meeting was held in the family dining room of the White House residence. According to the President’s Daily Diary, the breakfast meeting was held 7:55–10:08 a.m. (Ford Library, President’s Daily Diary) Ford and Kissinger previously met with a bipartisan congressional leadership delegation to talk about foreign aid, including aid for Turkey, on September 12. (Ibid., National Security Advisor, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 5) Kissinger discusses the aid cutoff in Years of Renewal, pp. 235–236.
  2. Retired Ambassador William R. Tyler. See Documents 147, 149, and 150.
  3. Memorandum from Kissinger to Ford, September 10; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 124, Geopolitical File, Cyprus, Chronological File.
  4. Kissinger met with Greek-American AHEPA leaders on August 23. (Memorandum of conversation, August 23; ibid., Box CL 272, Memoranda of Conversations, Chronological File)
  5. October 1.
  6. Archbishop Iakovos, highest ranking Greek Orthodox official in the United States.