218. Memorandum From the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft) to President Ford 1

Secretary Kissinger asked that the following message be passed to you:2

“I have just completed six hours of conversations with the principal Turkish leaders3 including Foreign Minister Esenbel, Prime Minister [Page 713] Irmak, Chief of the Turkish military, General Sancar and the key political leader, and former Prime Minister Ecevit. It is clear from the results of these discussions, which I will continue tomorrow morning, that the achievement of the beginning of serious substantive negotiations will be difficult as well as the negotiations themselves for two principal reasons: (a) there is strong feeling against the aid cutoff and the political leaders do not want to appear to be making concessions in the face of Congressional action; and (b) the political uncertainty in Ankara in which the present technocrat government while well disposed is unable to act in any decisive or conclusive way.

“I exposed all leaders to our assessment of the aid cutoff and said that there were three possible ways to deal with it: (a) a waiver; (b) the beginning of a serious negotiation which would allow us to report to the Congress that ‘substantial progress’ had been made; or (c) repeal of the law, which would likely require some substantive progress between the parties in order to convince at least the House members of our Congress to reverse themselves. I found no interest in the waiver option other than an outright repeal. It is clear from my talks that the posture that we have adopted in the Executive Branch has helped keep the lead on the situation here and has helped avert more serious decisions which would have a more critical effect on our overall relations with Turkey.

“I probed whether the Turkish Government would agree to reduce substantially the zone of its present occupation if we could get a commitment from the Greek Government for a bizonal federation. While all the Turk leaders obviously are interested in the bizonal arrangement, no one felt in a position to commit themselves to any kind of specificity as to how much of a reduction in the zone of occupation might prove feasible. Foreign Minister Esenbel, who is a competent and open-minded professional, has to touch many bases before any decision can be taken, and he told us this evening that while he can manage the military, the Prime Minister and the President, his greatest difficulty in getting decisions made is getting the acquiescence of the two principal political leaders Ecevit and DEMIREL, each of whom tends to view each issue from the point of view of what advantage can be derived from it.

“In this regard I was struck in particular by Ecevit’s approach to my probes regarding a bizonal federation. All of us came away with the distinct impression that he was attached to the idea of a bizonal arrangement—as all the main Turkish leaders are—but he left the impression that he wants to reserve this kind of solution for himself rather than to have any technocrat government undertake it. The difficulty with Ecevit’s approach is that it is likely to be months before a reasonably strong Turkish Government can be put together, and my concern is that there will be a progressive deterioration both in Greece and in Cyprus unless we can get a serious negotiating process started in the near future.

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“On the whole, however, I believe this trip was very useful. We exposed the Turks to our analysis that all concerned would benefit from the bizonal solution, and all would be hurt by a prolonged impasse. We have talked to all political leaders in a way the Turkish Government finds it difficult to do. We were able to reflect to the Turks Karamanlis’ desire for an early solution, and by probing the bizonal solution, we have begun to sow some seeds for future evolution.”

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 273, Memoranda of Conversations, Chronological File, March 1975. Secret; Sensitive; Exclusively Eyes Only. Ford initialed the memorandum.
  2. This message was transmitted to Scowcroft in telegram Hakto 22 from Ankara, March 10. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Trip Briefing Books and Cables for Henry Kissinger, 1974–1976, Box 6, 3/5–22/75, HAKTO 1) Kissinger was in Ankara as part of a Middle East trip.
  3. On March 10 Kissinger met with Esenbel (Memorandum of conversation, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–1977, Entry Nodis Memcons, March 1975); Sancar (Memorandum of conversation, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 273, Memoranda of Conversations, Chronological File); Irmak, Sancar, and Esenbel (Memorandum of conversations, 7:50–8:30 p.m.; National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–1977, Entry 5403, Box 10, Nodis Memcons, March 1975); and Ecevit Kissinger Papers, Box CL 273, Memoranda of Conversations, Chronological File).