215. Intelligence Note Prepared in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research1
THE TURKISH POLITICAL SITUATION
President Koruturk and the party leaders are searching for a way out of the impasse that began five months ago when Prime Minister Ecevit resigned.
They have endeavored to put together another coalition government that could win a vote of confidence in Parliament or, failing that, to obtain agreement among party leaders on early elections. Neither effort has yet produced results.
Attitude of the Armed Forces. Koruturk and the military leadership have shown increasing impatience with the inability of the politicians to resolve their differences. Although reports are surfacing that junior officers are becoming impatient with the passiveness of the High [Page 700] Command, the political situation probably will have to get worse before the military steps up the pressure on the civilians.
- —The military establishment supports early elections to establish a more stable parliamentary base.
- —The military favor Ecevit, who also wants early elections, as Prime Minister.
- —Alternatively, the military probably would support a national coalition, or even a reconstituted Irmak, government in the pre-election period.
- —On the other hand, the senior officers continue to dislike Justice Party Leader Suleyman Demirel and might seek to delay a move by Koruturk to ask DEMIREL to try to assemble a rightist coalition.
What Are the Alternatives? The conservative Democratic Party, with DEMIREL-led “Nationalist Front” or a coalition with Ecevit’s Republican People’s Party.
- —The “Nationalist Front”—the Justice Party and three smaller rightist parties, including the National Salvation Party—can muster 218 votes. Koruturk apparently is unwilling to ask the “Nationalist Front” to form a government until it is assured of an absolute majority in the National Assembly (226 votes).
- —The Republican People’s Party (184 seats) and the Democratic Party (41 seats), despite the latter’s internal division, are continuing their efforts to form a majority coalition. (A few independents would probably lend their support.)
The Democratic Party has been unable to reach a decision, however, because one faction of it dislikes DEMIREL and the other refuses to work with Ecevit.
The Republican People’s Party also has proposed a meeting of party leaders to decide on an early election date. DEMIREL has expressed his opposition to such a meeting, insisting that the matter should be discussed in Parliament first. Meanwhile, the caretaker Irmak government continues as best it can to avoid controversial issues.
Impact of the Political Crisis on the Cyprus Issue. The Irmak government has hesitated to take any positive initiatives on Cyprus. Its inclination, under Foreign Minister Esenbel, is to adhere to a cautious line. As a result, it is drifting aimlessly toward the February 5 Congressional deadline on military assistance.
In our view, however, the Irmak government probably can make some concessionary gestures and probably can accept some limited agreement in the Clerides/Denktash forum. Whether it does so, and the extent to which it does, depends in large part on the attitudes of the military leadership, which is increasingly apprehensive about the effect of a cutoff of US assistance on Turkish military capabilities.[Page 701]
- —The threatened cutoff is likely to provide the catalyst for a more active military role in pressing the politicians to fix an early date for elections. A final settlement of the Cyprus problem may depend on the formation of a majority government after new elections, with Ecevit again prime minister. In any case, it may be several months—well after February 5—before this impasse is broken.
- —The aid cutoff may also lead the armed forces to pressure the Irmak government to announce certain concessions before February 5. Embassy Ankara believes that military pressure for Turkey to deal on Cyprus appears to be growing. Furthermore, reporting during the past three weeks suggests that over the longer term the military establishment is prepared for substantial concessions to achieve a Cyprus settlement, as long as these concessions lie within the framework of a reasonable negotiating process.
- —Not to be ruled out is a move by the military leadership and the National Security Council (which has taken over from the cabinet the effective direction of Cyprus policy) to make various gestures, such as the withdrawal of units from Cyprus. We have no evidence, however, that the armed forces are as yet prepared to move in this fashion.
- Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, NSC Staff for Europe, Canada, and Ocean Affairs: Convenience Files, 1974–1977, Box 26, Turkey 1975, NSC. Secret; No Foreign Dissem; Controlled Dissem. Prepared by Charles Hartley and Philip Stoddard. A note at the bottom of the first page reads: “Aside from normal substantive exchange with other agencies at the working level, it has not been coordinated elsewhere.”↩