233. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Turkey
  • Prime Minister Demirel
  • Foreign Minister Caglayangil
  • Secretary General Elekdag (Foreign Office)
  • Mr. Guvendiren, Deputy Director, Cyprus Department, Foreign Office
  • U.S.
  • The President
  • The Secretary of State
  • Lt. General Scowcroft
  • Mr. Arthur Hartman, Assistant Secretary for European Affairs

The Secretary: That was certainly a strange seating arrangement at dinner last night. Mr. Prime Minister, I want to know what you had said to Brezhnev that made him leave after the first course.

DEMIREL: It wasn’t anything I said. He was apparently very tired but you are right, it was a strange seating arrangement. I noticed that you, Mr. President, were next to Makarios.

The Secretary: Yes, we had actually refused to talk to him because of some personal remarks he had made about the President before leaving Nicosia, but I am sure he must have asked to sit next to the President.

DEMIREL: He is now the “former” President.

The President: What does that mean?

The Secretary: What the Prime Minister is saying is that he is not considered to be President by Turkey.

DEMIREL: That is right. We don’t think that there is any longer the old state of Cyprus. That is just on paper now.

The President: Is Costa Gomes coming?

The Secretary: Yes, I understand he arrives tonight and will speak tomorrow instead of today. We had some report from Spanish sources that there is some fighting in northern Portugal near the city of Oporto. We have not yet seen a report from our sources.

The President: I think the quality of the speeches here has been quite good.

[Page 770]


DEMIREL: We had prepared a speech with the full intention of not raising difficult issues in keeping with the spirit of this meeting but we understand that both Caramanlis and Makarios have different ideas. You heard Caramanlis yesterday and today Makarios will do the same thing.

DEMIREL: We did not intend to start a debate here.

DEMIREL: That was the understanding of your staff.

DEMIREL: We don’t want to have any fight here.

DEMIREL: Mr. Secretary, when the two Prime Ministers (Greek and Turkish) met in Brussels they agreed to moderate their public statements, and we are trying to live up to that. The Prime Minister was not even going to touch on the Cyprus situation.

The Secretary: It is interesting to me that Makarios is now expressing a great deal more flexibility. When he talked to the President last night he said that he could accept a bizonal federation and even told the President that the territory to be left to the Turks could be as high as 25 percent. Perhaps that is not high enough but it is more than I have heard him say before.

The President: I told him that unless there was more give in the situation I would walk away from the problem. I said that 25 percent was not enough.

DEMIREL: Makarios is a very shrewd man. He always comes along with a photographer. He did that to me once and then your photograph appears with him in the newspaper with a statement “Mr. Makarios had very warm talks with___2”.

The Secretary: He must have asked the Finns to sit next to the President.

The President: You have a great friend in Wayne Hays.

DEMIREL: He is not only a great friend of mine but of Turkish-American relations. He is an able man.

The President: He was very helpful and he spoke bluntly in the meetings I had with Congressmen in support of lifting the embargo. He had no hesitancy in speaking but, unfortunately, we did not get enough votes. The Secretary and I have been talking about trying to get some action this week. As you may know, the day after the House vote3 Senators Mansfield and Scott condemned the action of the House as ill [Page 771] advised. The Speaker told me the next day that it was the worst vote in the 28 years he has been in the House.

The Secretary: Where does this leave us?

DEMIREL: I told the President on May 294 what would happen. It has been very difficult for me to keep public pressure down. As a matter of fact, it has been extremely difficult to explain to Turkish public opinion why Congress did what it did. I have expressed great appreciation for what you, Mr. President, have done but it did not change the result. Our friendly relations have been spoiled. Since February fifth there has been an embargo. What can we do? I have tried not to create any provocations. Such provocations could easily be created. If we had a direct conflict between us it would be easy to define what actions we should take and where we should stop but we have no such conflict. Turk/Greek relations are sensitive. If there had been trouble over the last 30 years between us (US/Turkey) it would be easier to explain. I have always told my people that the U.S. is a friend. Our foreign policy has been based on friendship with the United States. We have no direct conflict. But if there are no spare parts and our armed forces are affected while Greece stays as it is, one day there will be a serious problem in Turk/Greek relations. For years you have supplied arms to the Greeks but not for use against Turks. In this situation the Greeks could become more powerful and they might push us to do

The President: You have been very helpful in maintaining a moderate and cooperative attitude.

DEMIREL: This was not easy.

The President: If there is to be blame I would put it on the intransigence of a very vocal group of Greek-American citizens who are extremely ill advised. I can’t seem to get through to them that this embargo is of no help to Cyprus, nor to Greece, nor to Greek-Turkish relations, and it weakens NATO and our own national security. There is nothing good that flows from the embargo.

DEMIREL: If I may, Mr. Prime Minister, I would like to repeat what you said that our relations with the U.S. are like an unrequited love affair.

[Page 772]

The Secretary: We have been accused of having too much love for Turkey.

DEMIREL: What is the purpose?

The Secretary: This is the single most senseless act I have seen in my years in Washington.

The President: That is true of the 28 years I have been in Washington.

DEMIREL: If this somehow would save Greece but it won’t. If it could help Cyprus, but it won’t. If the U.S. wants to see Turks and Greeks live together peacefully, it is not helping by this action. Our policy has never been hostile to Greece. We want friendly relations. We both need to do other things and spend our resources elsewhere. I want to devote my attention to the development of my country. Turkey is the only country in this area that is stable and a democracy. In Iran you have a monarchy. In the Soviet Union and Bulgaria you have Communists. In Syria and Iraq you have Baathists. In Greece until “we brought CARAMANLIS to power”…

The Secretary: That is what Wayne Hays said in our meeting.

DEMIREL: We are trying to bring democracy to our people. From Japan to Turkey there was only India but it no longer looks very democratic.

The President: What do you think will happen to Papadopoulos?

DEMIREL: I don’t know why CARAMANLIS decided to bring them to Court.

The President: Do you think he will send them into exile?

DEMIREL: CARAMANLIS probably cannot let them go free but he will neutralize them.

The Secretary: On some island?

DEMIREL: They have 3,000 islands and they want Cyprus too.

The President: I have a report in this morning that the Senate will try to attach a lifting of the embargo to another bill. If this happens we might be able to get the same bill over to the House tomorrow. We are working on this very hard today and we are trying to make sure that we have the additional necessary votes. Henry, why don’t you explain the problem with Rangel?

The Secretary: Charlie Rangel is a black Congressman who is very interested in seeing that progress is made on the opium problem. We understand that you might be thinking of setting up a unit to coordinate your drug control problem. If we could write a letter that sets out what you intend to do it would help us with Rangel and he says that he could probably get another ten votes for us. I want you to understand, however, that we appreciate very much what you have already done on this problem.

[Page 773]

DEMIREL: Yes. This year we took very strict measures which I think will be effective. Last year we decided to allow the growing of poppies in seven provinces on about 100,000 hectares. Only about 80,000 were actually planted. We have very heavy control by police in the area. Every field has been checked. If more was planted than we had licensed them, we destroyed that part of the field and withdrew the license. Actually in Anatolia they do not measure their land in hectares but in a local measure which is the equivalent of a thousand square meters and, therefore, we had to measure every field and there were many complaints. We have also checked every poppy head to be sure that no incisions were made before the plant was harvested. The Government buys all the plants and we paid 20 Lira which is a very attractive price. It amounts to about 1,000 Lira per hectare to the farmer and we think the program will be very successful. We don’t like to be charged with poisoning your youth like many people have been saying. We only produce 200 tons while India produces a thousand tons. We will take the harvest of the whole plants and ship them abroad because we have no factory yet to extract the opium. Next year we hope to have such a factory.

The Secretary: We could write a letter saying this and that you promise to continue your efforts. What about this coordinating unit?

DEMIREL: There is a unit already in the Government.

The President: Could we say something positive about it?

DEMIREL: I have taken this matter up three or four times in my Cabinet to make sure that the Ministers understood the policy. This is something very important for us.

The President: We could say that your Cabinet Committee has been working on this problem and that it has been very helpful.

DEMIREL: All of the plants used to be bought by the Department of Commerce but I have now put all of this problem in the hands of the Minister of Agriculture and this has been announced. He controls and purchases all of the harvest and I can assure you that we will do everything that is necessary—just the best we can—as we had promised.

The Secretary: We could say that we talked about this problem and are sending a letter to Rangel about it.

DEMIREL: I feel that this is a very strong duty that I have.

The President: Isn’t there a UN group that has approved his plan? We could say that to Rangel and, in fact, I could call him on the telephone today. I could also tell him that you have put this in the hands of your Minister of Agriculture.

DEMIREL: We have been advised by the UN and helped by them to pay a good price to the farmers. Many people suggested ten years ago that it was not a good idea to pressure one country but that we should use international controls.

[Page 774]

The President: After all, India is allowed to grow poppies.

DEMIREL: The area where poppies are grown is in the central part of our country. It used to include 20 provinces, four of them are around one place. We do not want to poison your youth and I can tell you that the action I took lost votes for me. I felt that prohibition is wrong because it cannot be controlled and it will not work but I think our system will work.

The President: I think you are right about control rather than prohibition.

The Secretary: We actually need more opiates for medicinal purposes.

DEMIREL: We have more than a thousand people who are controlling this system.

The Secretary: We should put that effort in our letter. They have now shifted to the process which involves cutting the whole plant and shipping it off to be processed rather than allowing the farmers to draw the opium gum out of the poppy head in the field. It was that opium gum that used to find its way into illicit traffic that went through Marseilles on its way to New York and other centers in the States. We think this new process should control that traffic.

DEMIREL: The farmers used to cut a line around the poppy heads while it was still green and they allowed the milk to run and they would collect it. Now we allow no cutting by the farmers but the farmers are permitted to keep the poppy seeds while we take the rest of the plant which contains raw opium. This must be processed in a factory and then made into medicine. Next year we will keep it because we will have a factory but this year we will probably sell the straw to Hol land where the only plant exists in Europe.

The President: You will be building a plant over the next year.

The Secretary: You could call Rangel at lunch time.

Independent of that problem, can we discuss the Cyprus negotiations? After we had a talk with Caramanlis5 and I probably should not tell this to you but I definitely had the feeling that they want to settle this problem. The President was very tough—he said that we wanted their support to get aid to Turkey. Caramanlis said that he could control Makarios and that maybe the U.S. should put forward a proposal but we said we would not do that. But what kind of settlement can we obtain? Makarios and Caramanlis now accept a bizonal federation. Makarios is saying 25 percent for territory which is more than he has ever said to us before. Now for your own private information Caramanlis

[Page 775]

DEMIREL: We will continue to do what we can and do our best to find a solution. I told that to Waldheim yesterday. What is to happen now is that the dialogue between the communities should be maintained—if it is broken we will lose the chance for a settlement. There are three ways to settle the problem of Cyprus. First, the island could be divided with Greeks here and Turks there. Second, the island could be divided and each part could be annexed, one by Greece and one by Turkey…

The Secretary: Then you would get a left wing government in Greece.

DEMIREL: I am not discussing the merits of these proposals—or, the two states on the island could be independent and run their own affairs. The third possibility is a federation composed of two states. We didn’t want the second alternative but if it is to be the third alternative, it cannot be as it was in the 1960’s. There must be two separate self-governing states plus a federal government.

The Secretary: I think that the Greeks will accept this.

DEMIREL: You could start from the federal level and agree on the functions and organization of that government. That would be a good step. Then the two states could discuss other questions such as territory.

The Secretary: Yes, but the Greeks argue that if they agree to the bizonal and the central government without reaching agreement on territory at the same time they are giving up an important point and that is not unreasonable. I am very impressed with the eagerness of Caramanlis to settle this issue. The President told Makarios that 25 percent is not enough. Our Greeks in the U.S. are talking of much less, like 14 percent (sic) [I think the Secretary meant 18 percent].6 As I said, I think you can get by negotiation all that you want now.

DEMIREL: I talked to Caramanlis in May and we agreed to set up committees to study the problem.

The Secretary: Suppose Congress should reverse its action this week and then suppose that no progress is made. The President and I [Page 776] talked to more than 325 Congressmen and he would be in a really difficult position if no progress were made. Then in the fall we will be driven by the Congress to take some action. This is a moral obligation.

The President: My whole credibility is at stake. I have said that I spoke to you in Brussels and pledged to make a major effort to lift the embargo. I said that you had promised to make your best effort to achieve a settlement. They asked what the terms would be. I told them it was not for us to state the terms but that I had faith that you, Mr. Prime Minister, would make a good effort.

The Secretary: Caramanlis thinks there ought to be a DEMIREL/Ecevit government.

DEMIREL: I can tell you that that will not happen. But this is not a matter of different opinions among parties. It is a very complicated case with a long 25-year history. The Congressional action handicaps a solution to the Cyprus problems and harms Turkish-American relations.

The President: That is vitally important. We need good American-Turkish relations.

DEMIREL: I think we can solve this problem but there are really three problems: there is Cyprus; there is the embargo; and US-Turkish relations. We could have some movement but we can’t start with Cyprus. If nothing happens there will be many other problems.

The President: The suggestion has been made that I exercise on my own a waiver which would permit me to grant $50 million’s worth of aid to Turkey. Frankly, I have resisted this proposition because I wanted the Congress to act. I can also tell you that there are technical legal arguments that I should not use the waiver. The waiver was put into the law four years ago and the embargo was passed subsequently. Therefore, some say that I am precluded from using the waiver but others say that it is all right. If I were to use the waiver would it be helpful?

DEMIREL: We are not after getting something. This is not what we want.

The President: But wouldn’t this be an affirmative action and indicate that we want to have good American-Turkish relations which might undercut those who do not wish us to have them.

DEMIREL: I am not saying whether you should use it or not. But I can say that we are not after grant aid. Our pride is hurt and we do not want to be given aid. We want friendship. We know of your great efforts but the Congress is in doubt and it represents the people. If they are not friendly, my people will ask why.

The President: I am just trying to find a solution.

DEMIREL: The embargo means that you are hostile toward Turkey. We cannot even receive the planes we have paid for.

[Page 777]

Caglayangil: We are the only country in the world subject to an embargo.

The Secretary: You are making all the President’s arguments that he used in three breakfasts with several hundred Congressmen and in

The President: I have put my arm around more political enemies in the last couple of weeks.

DEMIREL: We all do that. I know of your great efforts, Mr. President, but the problem is beyond us. My people have a high honor. They are sensitive and they feel that if the love of a friend is lost, it can hurt and it could develop into hatred. We want your friendship not your aid. We cannot take aid from a hostile country.

The President: But you have a friendly President. DEMIREL: We shouldn’t be put in this position. We are not trying to get something. We are only asking the question—are we friends? If yes, then let’s behave that way. How can I explain that friends have put an embargo on us? First we have the embargo, then we have the closing of the bases, and who knows what will come next.

The President: I think we have had a very good discussion and I want to assure you that I will continue to do all that is possible and I will make a maximum effort to get this situation changed.

DEMIREL: I am sure you have done your best to save our relationship.

The Secretary: When you leave there will be newsmen outside. I think we ought to agree on what each of us is going to say. You, Mr. Prime Minister, ought to make the point you have just made about friendship and also say that Turkey wants a solution. Then the President can say that he opposed the House action and will continue to try to get it reversed.

DEMIREL: We can say that we reviewed relations and that we are willing to make every effort to keep our relationship.

The President: Why don’t you start and then I can say that our relationship has been seriously jeopardized but that I will continue my efforts to remedy the problem.

The Secretary: It would be helpful if you could say that you are trying to solve all these problems including Cyprus.

DEMIREL: I don’t want to give the impression that there is any link between our relations with you and Cyprus. I will say that we have reviewed relations and that I have always believed that it was necessary to do everything to solve outstanding problems. We can mention that we discussed Cyprus.

[Page 778]

The President: I want to thank you for being such a good friend of the United States.

(Finished at 9:15 a.m.)

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 14, Ford Administration. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held at the Ambassador’s residence. President Ford and Secretary Kissinger were in Helsinki for CSCE talks.
  2. Omission is in the original.
  3. After the Senate passed S.846, 41–40, on May 19, which permitted resumption of most military aid to Turkey, the House Foreign Affairs Committee reported a substantially revised S.846 to the House on July 16. The amended version sought to answer the concerns of Turkish aid opponents. It still prohibited direct military aid grants but allowed for “1) the shipment of arms contracted for with the United States before the embargo went into effect, 2) cash sales of arms on the commercial market, and 3) future U.S. government sales and credits for NATO-related items.” On July 24 the House voted 206–223 to reject the amended version of S.846 despite intensive lobbying by the White House. The following day Turkey ordered the cessation of operations at the 27 U.S. bases on its territory, including 4 intelligence-gathering facilities. (Congress and the Nation, 1973–1976, Vol. IV, pp. 866–867)
  4. See Document 227.
  5. See Document 51.
  6. Brackets in the original.