241. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Turkey:
  • Ihsan Sabri Caglayangil, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Amb. Melih Esenbel, Turkish Ambassador
  • Sukru Elekdag, Secretary General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Amb. Ercumet Yavuzalp, Director General for International Security Affairs
  • U.S.:
  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Amb. William Macomber, U.S. Ambassador to Turkey
  • Brent Scowcroft, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
[Page 815]

President: I wish to welcome you here, Mr. Foreign Minister. You have been here a number of times.

Caglayangil: Please excuse my English. It is very poor.

President: I am very pleased to have you here. I know that Secretary Kissinger has discussed matters in detail with you.2 I hope that you will convey to the Prime Minister my best regards.

Since I haven’t had a chance to discuss your talks with Secretary Kissinger, Henry, will you review them for us?

Kissinger: We discussed six issues. We resolved five of them and there is no reason to go into detail on them. The remaining issue is the level of assistance and the type of equipment we could make available. The level of aid we proposed is $250 million a year and perhaps $50 million of Export-Import credits. We can’t frankly do any better, because we couldn’t get it through Congress. We discussed selling equipment at reasonable prices—like F–100’s and ships. They don’t need F–100’s, though, and Clements is looking for ways to loan them more modern ones or something else.

Caglayangil: As Secretary Kissinger says, we have resolved five out of six issues. We have not agreed on the level and scope of assistance to be provided to Turkey. I am sure you know that from the Adriatic to the Sea of Japan, Turkey is the only democratic regime in a sea of authoritarian regimes. Our per capita income now is about $600. We have to maintain a defense budget of about $259 per capita, and improve our economy, and do it while maintaining human freedom. The people at times abuse these freedoms and make it difficult for the government.

Turkish-American relations are going through a crisis and there are those who would take advantage of this crisis. Support for our defense forces is an integral part of our difficulties. The antagonists of NATO or of Turkish-American relations always bring forth the aid that you provide to Greece or places like Egypt or Iran. Dr. Kissinger says you can’t increase aid past $250 million and I am afraid this will not be satisfactory to the Turkish public. I told Secretary Kissinger today that if he had difficulty with the American Congress, we could modernize the Turkish armed forces through a swap deal.

Kissinger: The problem is it won’t work—like trading F–100’s for F–4’s. The problem is we don’t have any F–100’s left in the US Air Force.

President: We would have a terrible logistics problem, since we don’t have any.

[Page 816]

Caglayangil: I appreciate that. We are just trying to find a way out. Let me assure you that whether we come to an agreement or not, we still have great esteem for our relations with the United States. We have not forgotten the assistance from across the Atlantic when the Soviet Union made its demands on the three provinces and the Straits. That is why I do not see any serious implications in the discussions we are having. We will certainly try to develop our alliance relationship.

I bring you very warm greetings from my President and my Prime Minister—who cherishes pleasant memories of meeting with you. When previously I was Foreign Minister, we came to this country and paid a visit to the American President. To greet the American President in Turkey would be a great honor and give us much pleasure. If I could receive acceptance, it would be the greatest gift I could bring back.

President: I greatly appreciate the invitation. It would be a great honor for me to go there. I unfortunately have never been there and I will maximize my efforts to visit. We unfortunately now have some elections coming up, but I assure you that after November 2nd, if things go as I expect, I will certainly make every effort to visit Turkey. I would like very much to have the Prime Minister visit this country. I really enjoyed my meetings and discussions with him and I hope you will convey the invitation to him.

Caglayangil: I will do so.

President: I will leave the negotiating details to you two, but since I have been President, I have made every effort to show how important are our relations with you. I have discussed point six with Dr. Kissinger. We have gone really as high as we can possibly go, and I hope that you will discuss it further with Secretary Kissinger and make every effort to reach agreement. It would greatly facilitate all our proceedings.

Caglayangil: We have followed how consistently you have defended U.S.-Turkish relations, especially with the Congress. We have no complaints whatsoever. If the American Government and Congress don’t see eye to eye, that is an internal American problem. Obviously we can’t explain that to our public. This problem is not peculiar to the American scene. We also have that same problem. The Turkish Constitution grants the right of amnesty only to the Grand National Assembly, but nevertheless, it has been granted by various of our governments to terrorists, etc.

The whole American picture has been evaluated in Turkey as if what has been done has been the act of the government. This is in fact where we find ourselves.

President: We hope that in this election we would get strong support from our people and get some changes in the Congress. Cooperation [Page 817] has gotten somewhat better in the past several months, but the real turn will come in January.

I just want to reiterate that we want to commit ourselves as deeply as possible to improving our relations and we have extended to the utmost our efforts to reach a satisfactory agreement. I wish you well in your discussions with Secretary Kissinger.

Caglayangil: I wish you well in the election. I don’t pretend prophecy, but only wishes. If the Congress can be improved, that is in the best interests of both our countries.

President: What is the status of your discussions with Greece over Cyprus?

Caglayangil: It is like a wound which needs medical attention. It can’t be left the way it is. The important thing is to break the connection of American aid to the solution of that problem. While I accepted most of the Secretary’s proposals on the five issues, my objective was this point.

Turkey and Greece historically must know how to live together. The only way to do that is to sit down and talk. We think we have a good chance with the Karamanlis Government. Cyprus is the key to our relations. Here there are two obstacles—Makarios is one, and this linkage is the other. Makarios is a complicated element—so much that we can’t solve the problem with him or without him. It is hard to get a proposal accepted by the Greek Cypriots which Makarios opposes.

Kissinger: The problem is which side will put forward the territorial proposal. Neither side wants to do it first, for good reasons. Any proposal either one puts forward is likely to become a domestic issue. I will talk to the Foreign Minister about some procedural ways we might attack it.

Caglayangil: The Greek Cypriot negotiator promised his views on territory within six weeks and the Turkish negotiator promised to respond within 10 days. They will meet again in May. Then they will form two subcommittees: one for territory, and one for constitutional questions. I think this is a hopeful procedure.

President: I hope this would move as you indicate. It raises serious questions here when there is no movement, so this would be helpful.

Caglayangil: I have done my best to encourage Denktash and have told him he can say yes, but to tell me only when he plans to say no.

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 15, Ford Administration. Secret;Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office.
  2. See Document 240.