216. Memorandum From A. Denis Clift of the National Security Council Staff to Secretary of State Kissinger1


  • Military Assistance to Turkey

The White House and State Congressional liaison staffs are preparing a coordinated Administration approach to the Congress on the issue of military assistance to Turkey.

The Foreign Assistance Act of 1975 states that the President must determine and certify to the Congress that “substantial progress toward agreement has been made regarding military forces in Cyprus” if the normal flow of U.S. military assistance to Turkey is to continue after February 5.

If Turkey makes the necessary gestures before the cut-off date, the President can so certify. However, even without the necessary gestures, [Page 702] it remains of fundamental importance to U.S. interests to continue military assistance to Turkey, and the Administration’s approach to the Congress should be tailored accordingly.

This issue between Executive and Legislative comes close on the heels of the adverse US–USSR trade developments, and the President’s State of the Union warning to the Congress2—that if our foreign policy is to be successful we cannot rigidly restrict in legislation the ability of the President to act—takes on added significance.

The principal arguments in favor of continuing U.S. military assistance to Turkey can be summarized as follows:

The United States provides Turkey with military assistance because it is in the United States’ and US/NATO security interests to do so. Turkey is a NATO ally, and a cut-off in military assistance would weaken NATO’s Southern Flank.
Our efforts to assist in solving the Cyprus crisis reflect our interest in finding a solution that will permit Greece to preserve her prestige and dignity. A cut-off of assistance to Turkey will work against Greek and Greek-Cypriot interests:
  • —The United States will lose negotiating leverage with the Turks, leverage which will be retained if our military assistance continues.
  • —Turkish attitudes will harden and the Turks will seek—and probably find—military assistance elsewhere.
  • —If the United States “turns against” Turkey and toward Greece by cutting off assistance, the Turkish military may be increasingly tempted to again resort to force and take more territory on Cyprus.
  • —If such events were to unfold, the Cyprus crisis would deepen, Greece would be unable to act and her position would worsen.
Substantive political discussions have begun in earnest between the leaders of the two Cypriot communities. These discussions will collapse if the United States takes the step of cutting off assistance to Turkey.
Turkish domestic politics have left Turkey with a caretaker government for more than four months. This has restricted Turkish negotiating flexibility, and U.S. patience is required.
The negotiating issues are complex and involve coordination with several interested parties to the dispute—Turkey, Greece, and the two Cypriot communities. The process of achieving agreement among the various parties is slow and complex and cannot be constrained by arbitrary deadlines for results.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Middle East and South Asia, Box 33, Turkey 2. Secret. Sent for information. Kissinger initialed the document indicating that he had seen it.
  2. The January 15 address is published in Public Papers: Ford, 1975, pp. 36–46.