237. Memorandum of Conversation1
- President Ford
- Vice President Rockefeller
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
- Rogers Morton, Secretary of Commerce
- Bipartisan Congressional Leadership (list attached)
- Leslie A. Janka (note taker)
- Energy, Turkey and the Middle East Agreement
The first 45 minutes of the meeting were taken up with a discussion of the status of energy legislation on the Hill. Discussion centered on the unlikely possibility that acceptable legislation would emerge from the House–Senate Conference. The President committed himself to meeting with the conferees to discuss potential areas for compromise.
The President: I appreciate very much the vote yesterday granting the rule for Turkey.2 I understand the vote is programmed for next Wednesday.3 We feel that lifting the embargo is critically important, and I want to assure you that the Administration will maximize its efforts in achieving an affirmative vote.
Representative Anderson: We are hearing arguments that the United States would be meddling in the Turkish elections by voting on the embargo now. Some are calling for a delay of 30 days in the vote.
Speaker Albert: I have been presented with a scroll of the names of 150,000 Cypriot refugees. This is just an indication of how active the Greeks are calling on members to press their case. Of course the sad [Page 793] part of the story is that the Turks indeed did force the removal of these refugees.
Representative Anderson: But we can counter that argument by saying that the United States is for a settlement which will permit the refugees to return and that we want to help them recover their homes.
Senator Mansfield: My daughter returned home after hearing John Brademas speak and asked me why I voted to lift the embargo. I told her I did so because I was pro-Greek and I wanted to help the Greek Cypriots.
The President: One of the worrisome indications we have seen is the potential action of the Turkish Cypriots to declare an independent Turkish-Cypriot state. This is especially discouraging since the parties have already agreed to a bizonal federal arrangement. I would think that an independent Turkish Cypriot would be the last thing the Greeks want. They have to recognize that the Turks have 30 to 40,000 troops on the island. Who can stop the Turks if they decided to go independent? The United States certainly won’t go in to prevent that. Therefore, the only way to get the parties together to settle the refugee problem, and even more importantly, to protect our own security interests, is to lift the arms embargo.
Representative O’Neill: Mr. President, you’ve got to think about what happens if you should lose the vote. What would that do to the Turkish election?
The President: I think it is clear that we must take our action based on our own security interests and on the realities we face now. Another defeat of this legislation would deteriorate the situation to an absolutely irretrievable level.
The Vice President: The Turkish election is between the man who put the troops on Cyprus in the first place and the moderate who’s seeking a reasonable solution. If the Congress fails to vote to lift the embargo, they will in fact be helping the radicals in Turkey.
Representative Anderson: NATO Secretary General Luns spoke to several of us on the Hill last week and expressed the concern of our European allies over the situation regarding Turkey. I don’t see a stronger argument than the impact on NATO of the U.S. embargo.
The President: If the Congress takes off the embargo, the negotiations can get started on a Cyprus settlement. We have made it very clear to the Turks that if the embargo is lifted, they have got to make substantial movement. What assurances does the pro-Greek lobby have that a continuing embargo will solve the problem? There are all sorts of vehicles available to Congress to reimpose the embargo if there is no progress on Cyprus. There will be many opportunities to change course if the Turks do not perform but it is absolutely critical that we act now.[Page 794]
The Vice President: Mr. Dean Alfange, the former President of AHEPA, has been talking to a large number of his Greek friends and supporters on the Hill. He supports the Administration’s view and is saying that the only way to get the refugees back to their homes is to achieve a negotiated settlement, which can occur if the embargo is lifted.
General Scowcroft: Mr. President, I think it is important to point out that the U.S. embargo is going to be a factor in the Turkish election whatever we do. Prime Minister DEMIREL is under great pressure from the former Prime Minister Ecevit, the man who invaded Cyprus in the first place. DEMIREL can only go two ways. He can try to be as tough as Ecevit on the United States, or he can point to the fact that he got the embargo lifted.
The President: I want to assure you that we will do all that we can. Every element of the Administration will be going all out to achieve an affirmative vote. Our national security is very much involved in this issue.
[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Turkey.]
- Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 15, Ford Administration. Administratively Confidential. The meeting was held in the Cabinet Room of the White House. Attached is a list of additional participants and those who were not able to attend. Ford, Rockefeller, and Morton had met the previous morning with Republican Congressional leaders. (Memorandum of conversation, September↩
- S.2230 was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which reported it out on September 22. (Congress and the Nation, Vol. IV, 1973–76, p. 867)↩
- On October 2 the House reversed its stand and voted 237–176 to partially lift the embargo, with an amendment requesting the President to open talks with Turkey on ways to counter the illicit diversion of opium. The Senate concurred with the amendment on October 3. Ford signed S.2230 on October 6. (Ibid.)↩