245. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • US:
  • The Secretary
  • Under Secretary Habib
  • Ambassador Bennett
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary Laingen, notetaker
  • Turkey:
  • Foreign Minister Caglayangil
  • Ambassador Esenbel
  • Under Secretary Tezel
  • Ambassador Turkmen, Turkish notetaker


  • The Aegean Crisis

Kissinger: It is good to see you again Mr. Minister. The last time I saw you you had the flu. I hate to think what you would have gotten out of us at the time on the base negotiations if you hadn’t had the flu.

Caglayangil: Thank you very much. I’m feeling fine now. We are watching your Presidential campaign with a great deal of interest. We [Page 827] have a Turkish proverb that reads: “when you cross a river, don’t change horses.”

Kissinger: That’s a good proverb and very true. The situation has changed a good deal since around April when the President was clearly running ahead on all accounts. But it was at that time that the internal differences within his party began and that clearly affected the atmosphere.

Caglayangil: It’s always a gamble to change the known for the unknown.

Kissinger: The present problems facing the President, an incumbent President, have happened only once before in this century; that was in 1932. Such a situation normally would not develop. But the combination of circumstances where Ford himself is not an elected President plus the bitter fight taking place within his party have contributed to a situation where he has been unnecessarily weakened.

I believe, except for these circumstances, he would have won the reelection easily. Even as it is, I believe he stands a much better chance than the press suggests. After all, Carter’s primary victories were not that decisive when you analyze them one by one. So that an aggressive campaign could be successful on the President’s part.

Caglayangil: Has there ever been a candidate from the South in US history?

Kissinger: Not really since the Civil War. That of course is an asset for Carter since it means that he has the South pretty much on his side.

Esenbel: What about Lyndon Johnson?

Kissinger: He was not a candidate from the deep South in the usual sense of the word. Johnson was also not a normal situation in the sense that he got his accession to the Presidency by succession as Vice President. Carter clearly has strength in the South, and in the North he has created the impression of being a liberal. This is probably true. I personally believe he is more liberal than Mondale. I don’t consider that a compliment necessarily. But we may never find out what the facts are.

Well, Mr. Minister, we’re here for one of our usual bouts. Couldn’t you have kept the situation quiet for at least a year and saved our nerves a bit? Either that or send us 3 million Turks!

Caglayangil: Your assessment is right but you should have the point that the only reason we are here is because of the Greeks.

Kissinger: I have said substantially the same thing to the Greeks.

Caglayangil: To speak frankly, I am not disturbed at being here in New York. From the outset the Greeks have approached this problem from a different angle. It is a domestic problem for them. Public opinion is exercized because they have exaggerated the case and spoken in a threatening way about Turkey. Under the circumstances, I think that [Page 828] instead of firing guns in the Aegean it is better that we fight our wars here.

This is due to the wisdom of Caramanlis. The Greeks had to do something; that is, their government did and this is the best way to proceed. I understand this. I understand it but I believe all the members of the Council recognize that the Greek case has no legal basis.

Bitsios came here and told the Council that he did not intend to discuss the juridical aspects of the case. But rather was approaching it on a political basis. But then he proceeded to base his comments on alleged juridical grounds. Now this is the area, this narrow strip of sea along our coast, that the Greeks tell us that they will kindly allow us to have. All the rest of the continental shelf is Greek! And the Foreign Minister tells us that justice and equity is on their side!

Tezel: So you see that if we follow the Greek thesis, this is how the narrow Turkish continental shelf would look like.

Kissinger: We have two problems, at least. The first is to determine the right dividing line of the continental shelf. The second is to establish the best procedure for determining that line.

Turkmen: The Minister would like to speak to those points.

Kissinger: But I’m afraid he will make so many concessions, as always, in the process of doing so that I won’t get any credit!

Caglayangil: Yes, as usual.

Kissinger: It’s a good thing our Ambassador in Ankara is not here!

Caglayangil: The Greeks say this is our continental shelf. We are quite prepared to say that they have rights in the Aegean but we do too. But our claims do not extend to the whole of the Aegean. We have a much more limited claim than that. But the point is that until now, neither Greece nor Turkey has come to agreement on a delimitation of exactly where the shelf is and to whom it belongs to. Clearly some areas are free of controversy and some of the areas are not. But what the Greeks have done is to say that you are free to conduct research but not in the areas that belong to Greece nor are you allowed to conduct research, you Turks, in areas that are controversial. When we asked why, they Greeks say that the answer lies in a 1958 Convention.2 We must ask their permission before we undertake any research. Our answer is that we didn’t sign that Convention.

But even the 1958 Convention states that areas of the continental shelf must be agreed to by delimitation and rights to use them established.

[Page 829]

(Insistent ringing of a telephone in the suite interrupts conversation.)

Kissinger: In case that’s someone calling to offer me the Vice Presidential nomination, I want to be sure I’m available! You know every President hates to have a Vice President around basically because all a Vice President is interested in is succeeding to the Presidency and probably wants nothing more than to see the President drop dead! I would be an excellent candidate, you know, as Vice President because the Constitution provides that a foreign-born citizen may not become the President. The Constitution does not prohibit a foreign-born citizen from being Vice President. So if I were Vice President, that would be ideal because I could not succeed and the President therefore would have no reason to be nervous about me. An ideal situation!

Caglayangil: Through the Greek Ambassador in Ankara I gave the following information to the Greek Government. I said the research that we will conduct will have no prejudicial impact on the legal rights of either country in the Aegean. Therefore, this should not bother Greece. It is clear that under the sea, we have rights to some of the continental shelf; you, the Greeks, do too. But for the present we don’t know where those rights are and there should be no reason why either cannot therefore conduct research. We will not make any drillings from the surface. We shall only sail on the surface and make no physical contact with the shelf. As far as the surface is concerned, there is no Greek/Turkish difference as to the high seas.

You Greeks, I said, have some basis for your arguments that Turkey should not conduct research while we are negotiating. That in itself is a good argument. But we point out that there are 3,054 islands in the Aegean and if we accept the Greek thesis as to these islands each having a continental shelf of its own, then there will be only this narrow strip that I showed you on this map where Turkey would have rights. Turkey cannot accept this. I pointed out too that in the 1958 Convention, the concept of natural elongation out into the sea from the mainland is accepted. If we were to proceed from that thesis, then all of the Greek islands would belong to us.

Clearly, therefore, it is not possible to reach a settlement on purely legal grounds. This is a political matter and a settlement must be found in that context.

So we said that either we explore all of the continental shelf together or we make some kind of political bargain and come to a conclusion as to a delimitation of the shelf. There is no other way. We are prepared therefore to sit around a table for political bargaining. We say to the Greeks that you know the resources of the Aegean already. You have completed your research. But Turkey did not yet conduct its research and is only now doing this.

Kissinger: When did the Greeks do this?

[Page 830]

Esenbel: They did it beginning in 1963. Even now they are doing drilling in the Thassos area. They have done nine drillings in that area.

Caglayangil: If the Greeks continue to be apprehensive about the research we are doing and this being a basis for a legal claim, I’m ready to make another announcement that our research will not prejudice anyone’s legal claims or rights.

Esenbel: In other words, our research is not a claim to sovereignty.

Caglayangil: I explained all of this to the Greek Ambassador in Ankara. He replied that this explanation made sense to him and made him feel more comfortable and he would pass it to his government. So I said to the Ambassador, please do so. You can say to your government that the Turkish government gave you these assurances; therefore what Turkey is doing does not harm the claims of either government. If you will let me know if this is acceptable, I will not need to send any escort by the Turkish Navy with the Sismik. The Ambassador replied to me: don’t worry; I will be your advocate.

Kissinger: He behaves like an American Ambassador!

Caglayangil: The next day he came back and said my government agrees to your approach providing two conditions are met. The first is that the full program of research by the Sismik should be conveyed to us in advance in detail, complete with coordinates etc. The second is that you will communicate to us the results of your research. Moreover your statement will indicate publicly what you have conveyed to the Greeks.

The Ambassador went on to say that in response, Greece would not escort or approach our ship but would only shadow it in various places.

I said to him these are not good answers. I said you are mad! I didn’t ask you to get permission from your government.

Kissinger: Greek Ambassadors in Turkey have been killed for far less than that!

Caglayangil: I’m not afraid of Greek reaction and I don’t intend to ask permission to do what we are doing. The Greek government made an important psychological error. I told him we cannot agree on anything with this kind of precondition attached. The Ambassador replied that I misunderstood. He said that he was not putting preconditions on this. He said let me talk to your experts concerning the assurances we seek from you and see if we can agree on them. I said while we would not accept preconditions, we would be prepared to talk about a statement that would be made about the Sismik sailing. So I sent him to see the Under Secretary and they worked six hours on a statement. During this time he was in permanent contact with Athens. But Athens insisted on a number of points that we could not accept. And we told them so.

[Page 831]

The Greek Ambassador asked me whether we should consider this as a rupture in the discussions. I said no, that we were always ready to talk. But not with preconditions.

It was therefore clear that there was no possibility of an understanding on a statement regarding the Sismik and so we started our research.

The point is that the Greek claims have no legal basis. The New York Times says so. The State Department’s legal experts say so. The British Government says so. So everyone agrees.

Kissinger: But of course you know the New York Times is always wrong!

Caglayangil: Of course officially you will say that you do not want to get into the middle of this.

Kissinger: That’s because you and the Greeks have such a splendid record of settling problems between the two of you.

Caglayangil: We don’t ask anyone to side with us. We ask only that our case be examined. This case is after all not so different from that between Iceland and the UK. They came here, to the Council, and the result was no resolution adopted by the Council but simply advice by the Council to the parties to try to resolve their problems.

I have seen the draft resolution3 and I am told that the US agrees with it. When you look at the draft it seems innocent enough.

Kissinger: We have seen it but the point is that we have not taken any formal position on it.

Caglayangil: Yes, so we are told. As I say if you look at the resolution with a magnifying glass you will see the face of Caramanlis and the face of Bitsios. It is not a good idea for a resolution like this. This is the first time that any European question has been discussed in this fashion in the Security Council. I don’t think we Europeans should confront each other in this manner over such a simple matter that should be resolved between the two of us.

Turkey simply cannot accept any resolution.

Kissinger: Any resolution?

How would it be if we simply endorsed your claim? Would you accept that?

Caglayangil: You know me; I’m always giving so many concessions in your office! We did not reject the idea of the Court. We spoke about this and are prepared to consider the Court. Caramanlis said let’s come to some agreement on this. And he went on to say that even if [Page 832] we can’t agree among ourselves, let’s get a blessing from the Court that we would use with our public opinion.

We Turks, being nice people, didn’t see this as another Byzantine scheme but now the Greeks claim that we have changed our minds. We have not done so. We are prepared to follow the agreement between us and Brussels of 1975; that is to try to agree among ourselves and then to go to the Court for its blessing. It may well be that we don’t come to a complete agreement on the issue among ourselves. Okay, we will go the Court with those differences that remain. But not with the whole issue.

Now they have come up with another Byzantine scheme. They say let’s go to the Court. We have a problem of public opinion. The Court’s deliberation will take two or three years probably. Meanwhile we will negotiate bilaterally and see what we can do.

Each country regrettably has its Papandreou and its Makarios. We have our Ecevit! You know what he thinks after his visit here probably better than we do.4

Kissinger: No, that shouldn’t be the case. Your Ambassador Esenbel was present during all our conversations.

Caglayangil: I have said something very important. Turkish public opinion believes that we have a very just case. If in such a just case our allies side with the Greeks and help them and the result is a resolution adopted against Turkey, this will be a great blow to Turkish/US relations and also to Turkish-Western European relations.

Kissinger: Let us first see whether this resolution is against Turkey. On first reading it didn’t strike me that way although I have not studied it since I got it this morning.

Caglayangil: Will you allow me to explain our problems with the resolution.

Turkmen: In the first place it recommends a recourse to the ICJ. There is also reference to Greece’s unilateral approach to the ICJ. We think any reference to the ICJ in view of Greece’s unilateral approach is baseless and irrelevant.

Moreover, in the fifth preambular paragraph it qualifies bilateral negotiations in a way partial to Greece. This is not the kind of negotiations we are conducting. We prefer direct negotiations to settle the problem.

Kissinger: These are your major objections to the resolution?

Turkmen: We also have problems with operative paragraph one. This could be interpreted as supporting the Greek view regarding the [Page 833] Sismik. There is also operative paragraph three where there is a general and sweeping statement about issues being referred to the Court, when in fact this is really a more general, political and even a security problem.

Caglayangil: We don’t want a resolution. We want to proceed as was done in the Iceland/UK case. We have gone into detail on the resolution simply to describe how unilateral it is to us.

Kissinger: We didn’t draft it. Nor did we clear it. Is it clear that we have not endorsed it?

Bennett: We have not endorsed it.

Kissinger: I was told that the Europeans had prepared it and had sent it to certain members. I discussed it with Bitsios and in general he is willing to go along with it.5

Caglayangil: Of course!

Kissinger: Let’s put the resolution aside. If we can find a way out of this in some other way maybe we don’t need a resolution. I talked to Bitsios alone. I told him our legal experts did not share the Greek view. But I don’t want to get into a legal argument. We favor a settlement by political negotiations.

So Bitsios said to me alone that he had a private message from Caramanlis to me. You know what that means. It means that only about

Caglayangil: Yes, at a minimum.

Kissinger: He says they are prepared to engage in political negotiations. They do not insist on going to the Court, they are ready to negotiate now.

Turkmen: Are they prepared to withdraw their request to the Council and to the Court?

Kissinger: No, they did not say that. I said I would be talking with you.

What they want is that neither side engage in research in disputed areas while you and they are engaged in political negotiations.

Caglayangil: If they had accepted my original proposal, we would have worked this out and we would have not sent the ship into disputed areas. But I could not say this publicly. And because they behaved so negatively in our discussions, our military people hardened their position and insisted on sending the ship. Now they are harassing our ship. They have harassed it by air within 140 meters and they have harassed it by sea within 20 meters of the ship. However, we have [Page 834] given strict orders to the ship and to our Naval vessels that there be no reaction at all to this. Yet they still continue provoking us.

Kissinger: Let us think now how we deal with this problem. Supposing we wrote a letter urging both sides to begin negotiations on the subject of delimitation of the continental shelf. I don’t know if the Greeks would accept. I wanted first to find out if you would. The letter could also urge both sides not to engage in activities in disputed areas that would in any way disturb negotiations. If you were prepared to do this on this basis, you would be in effect not yielding to Greece but yielding to our suggestion. It would be keeping the ship out of disputed waters which after all is what you wanted to do at the outset.

Caglayangil: It is not possible for the Turkish government to accept any clause to stop or precondition this research. We have to continue research activity. But no one knows very well where the disputed areas are, so the Greeks perhaps could give us a map showing where the disputed areas are. I could take it to my government and say look we won’t enter these areas. But another problem is the Greek unilateral approach to the ICJ. So during my conversation with the Greek Ambassador I asked him where are the disputed areas? He declined to do so or to reply.

Kissinger: They won’t give you such a map because it would tend to question their own claim. But they may give us a map on their claims.

Caglayangil: We can’t accept that and I can’t give them a map from the Turkish side. If I do so that means I tend to accept some of their claims.

Kissinger: Can we give you a map showing you where we think the disputed areas are?

Caglayangil: (shrugs his shoulders)

Kissinger: I’m trying to find a solution to this problem.

Caglayangil: I can agree on this much. You go ahead and urge the parties to resume bilateral negotiations. But there can be no resolution from the Council. Meanwhile you indicate to me some disputed areas. Don’t do it in your letter. Put it unofficially to us. I’ll take this to my government and note that these areas are very sensitive.

Kissinger: You mean like the sea of Marmara!

Look we are friends and you know no matter how confidentially we treat this kind of thing, the Greeks will make it public in one way or another. I could agree it shouldn’t be done as a part of the letter. It could be done separately and confidentially. But in practical terms it would still get out. Nonetheless it will get out as something that is not your decision. The point is I have to tell the Greeks something as to how we go about resolving this.

[Page 835]

Caglayangil: In that case maybe it’s best to not get involved at all. Our relations are already bad and it is not good to do anything to worsen them.

Kissinger: We cannot have another war in the Aegean. We would get involved anyway then but the point is we cannot have another Turkish/Greek conflict.

Caglayangil: We have no intention of going to war. If the Greeks want war, that is another matter. They are the ones that are militarizing all of the islands. No one says anything in response to this. All we are doing is sending a small research ship into the area.

Kissinger: You can take the question of militarization of these islands to the Security Council if you want.

Caglayangil: We are not going to play games with the Security Council for any purpose.

Kissinger: Let me understand where we are before we get too far into this. If the Greeks are ready to start negotiation with provision for ultimate reference to the Court and if we give you some idea of those sensitive disputed areas separately in some fashion then would you be prepared to take this into account in future voyages of the Sismik.

Caglayangil: Well, Mr. Secretary, my military people remind me that the Greek Ambassador on the 9th of August when he delivered the second Greek note said that the Greeks were ready to resume high level political negotiations if the Turks were prepared to stop the sailing of the Sismik. So your proposal has already been communicated to Turkey. Now we find ourselves talking about the same thing. I said to the Greeks then under instructions from my government that we would be prepared for talks even tomorrow but we would not be prepared on the basis of preconditions. We cannot deviate from the research we have underway.

Kissinger: But then what were you saying earlier to me when you said that if we gave you some idea of particularly sensitive areas for the Greeks that you would be prepared to take this into consideration?

Caglayangil: I said I would try to get my government not to include these areas in their research program.

Kissinger: Fine, I’m not saying you should stop the ship.

(There then ensued intensive discussion in Turkish between Caglayangil and his advisors.)

Kissinger: Let’s not fight among ourselves!

Esenbel: Here’s our reply.

Kissinger: First I suppose he says to go to hell!

Esenbel: First they should withdraw their request to the ICJ. Secondly, you could write a letter saying that the only solution is through political negotiations and that both sides should take this route. Thirdly, [Page 836] you could indicate to us in some very informal fashion, perhaps as a piece of paper that was found on the street, those areas particularly sensitive as far as future sailing by the Sismik is concerned. We would then take this into consideration in the future course of the Sismik.

The Minister is not committing his Government. You said the Greeks might leak this. If they do that then we would go directly into the areas that were indicated as sensitive. But if they don’t leak it, then I might be able to prevail on my government.

Kissinger: Let me make a point. I’m afraid enough of calm Turks! But angry ones I cannot take! We cannot say there can be only political negotiations. After all you too agreed on the ICJ approach at one time. So if we write a letter we would have to say something about the ICJ. We would have to say that the talks are intended to delimit the area and to find some formulation to have recourse to the ICJ on those points where there is no agreement. You don’t want to bring in the Court at the outset but I can’t send a letter or take a position that focuses only on negotiations.

Caglayangil: We should be prepared to go in good time jointly to the Court.

Kissinger: I don’t know whether this approach would be possible. I will have to talk to Bitsios. I understand your point.

Caglayangil: In essence what we need to do is to save Karamanlis from the impasse he’s gotten into. We are all entering into a big gamble which could have a bad effect on the whole Western relationship.

Kissinger: I understand.

Caglayangil: The situation could result in that that followed an earlier LBJ letter.6 The Council should simply urge Greece and Turkey to resume negotiations. Then we could go off to Switzerland or to some such place. Perhaps we can agree on a meeting somewhere in Europe.

Kissinger: As a practical matter, I doubt we can have a situation where there is no resolution and no progress of any kind of the Council. It is possible to have progress and no resolution. But I don’t think we can have nothing happen here. Do you agree Tap?

Bennett: Yes I agree.

Kissinger: Nor am I anxious to get in the business of a US letter. It will not in any event be a threatening letter. That’s what the LBJ letter was and that’s why we had trouble with it. If you can meet here with Bitsios and work this out between you that’s fine too.

Caglayangil: Why do we need a resolution?

[Page 837]

Kissinger: Well, we can have a discussion if you want about what should be in the resolution. My view is that you have established the principle of your right to do research in the Aegean in the disputed areas. You have already been in there twice and the principle is well established. Secondly, if the Greeks now would also agree not to go into disputed areas then the definition is already practically established. Thirdly, if you can get negotiations started then you get what you have wanted. It would seem to me that Turkey has not lost under those circumstances.

My concern with the resolution is that even if we get one agreeable to everyone then the problem still remains. We would still have the problem of getting negotiations. So I want to go straight to the issue of talks. I’m not wild about a resolution.

Esenbel: The Minister says there was a similar case between Iceland and the UK. Why does the West have to go out of its way to please the Greeks with some face-saving resolution?

Kissinger: Look, it may be possible for the Council to wrap this up successfully. All I say is that it is not possible to have neither a resolution nor progress. I have not myself had spectacular success in getting Greece and Turkey to agree on anything previously!

(There then ensued a further discussion among the Turks.)

Kissinger: Could I hear what you are talking about?

Esenbel: The problem is that this is a very hard political question for Turkey. The Minister didn’t come here to negotiate with the Greeks or to bargain.

Kissinger: Look, if you can’t say you’re willing to negotiate…

There are only two possible approaches it seems to me. In the first place, if there is no political prospect for talks or for a consensus approach, then there will be a resolution. We will have to take that into account. But remember that you are not the only ones with political problems. We have them too. The President faces a convention next week in Kansas City. He can’t take on all the Greeks in the United States next week. So you should know that we cannot veto a resolution. Some reality has to be put into this.

Caglayangil: I came to this post from a political career. You see I had no training as a diplomat.

Kissinger: Well I came in as a professor!

Caglayangil: I would like to explain my position very clearly. If I had said in Ankara okay, we will stop the sailings in the disputed areas, then there would have been no need to come to New York. But the Aegean sea doesn’t belong to Greece. Turkey cannot accept directives from Greece. We can’t accept anything that appears to suggest that we are being authorized by Greece to do what we need to do.

[Page 838]

Kissinger: I’m saying that both sides should agree not to engage in research…

Caglayangil: But the point is that they have already done their research.

Kissinger: You’ve done it too. If they now agree that they will not engage in such research doesn’t that strengthen your case? Doesn’t that strengthen your argument that it is a disputed zone?

Caglayangil: But we need to know what the natural resources of the area are.

Kissinger: You said yourself you could get this from satellites.

(To Habib) This isn’t getting us anywhere.

Caglayangil: I have another idea. Why don’t Greeks give us their results from their research and say that we can have it. Then maybe we can accept the situation.

Kissinger: As far as the US is concerned, we can go on playing the game in the Council until we have a situation where no one knows who proposed what. Then there will be some sort of resolution and that is a situation perfectly possible for us. I should think a resolution wouldn’t be all that favorable to Turkey. I can’t say what we would do then; it depends in part on our political situation. I can say we won’t veto. But then where are we? Nowhere. We won’t get into a middle of a war. You have your political problems, but we have ours. We’re going for negotiations one way or another. How we get there doesn’t matter. It seems to me we have an agreement already on the general principles; i.e. there are political negotiations necessary and that there are sensitive areas.

We are not going to be driven by the Europeans on behalf of Greece or indeed by the Turks into a totally passive situation. (A further long discussion ensued among the Turks.)

Caglayangil: I thank you for your frankness. I want to make things clear from the Turkish viewpoint. First we believe we are right in our research activity. So if it leads to an armed clash so be it. But it also relates to the relationship between big and small powers. You must take your position from your point of view.

Esenbel: We will not be the cause for any escalation.

Kissinger: Let me understand correctly. A half hour ago I understood you to say that you would agree to take into consideration that there are sensitive areas, provided the Greeks would say that they are ready for political negotiations.

Esenbel: That’s right. And he will suggest this to Ankara.

The solution is for the President of the Council to make a statement. It could say that the members have listened to the statements of both sides. He understood they were prepared to resume negotiations [Page 839] and would be prepared to refrain from any action that might aggravate the situation. The President would say that in this way the Council believes that the problem could be solved. The result would be that the Council would have acted similarly to what it did in the Iceland/UK case.

Caglayangil: Then I will try without committing myself after this appeal from the Security Council to get my government to agree to resume negotiations. I would also seek to get them to agree not to conduct research in areas that might cause difficulties. These would be areas that you would find some way informally to indicate to us. Perhaps your dog could be the emissary!

Now I cannot take this kind of idea to the full Cabinet or to the National Security Council. I will need to arrange it more privately with the Prime Minister and with the Chief of the General Staff.

Kissinger: I understand. Let me have a private talk with Bitsios and we will ourselves work on a consensus statement. But we will not discuss this with any other foreign government for the present.

Caglayangil: It is vitally important that the Greeks neither directly or indirectly disclose any of this.

Kissinger: If they do we will understand the actions that you may feel you then have to take. This assumes of course that you yourselves will not leak any of this.

Caglayangil: Of course.

Kissinger: I know you are a man of honor and we have no reason to think that you will do this.

Turkmen: It must be clear also that the appeal by the Greeks to the ICJ is withdrawn.

Kissinger: The way to do that is that you will say that you will negotiate to develop a joint approach to the ICJ.

I will talk to Bitsios alone to reduce the risk of leaks. We don’t want to do anything that would embarrass Turkey. We will also speak to the French about their going ahead with their resolution drafting without sufficient consultation with us. This is an intolerable situation.

I agree that a resolution alone is no real solution. No matter what language we agree on the problem would remain.

Turkmen: Can we sum up. You will talk to Bitsios about what we have talked about. There will be agreement that the Council would wind the session up with a statement by the President.

(Mrs. Kissinger enters the room and there is a five minute interruption.)

Turkmen: It will be implicitly understood that the President of the Council would exhort both parties to resume negotiations and to [Page 840] refrain from any unilateral activities that would aggravate the situation. Meanwhile you will make available, sort of like dropping it on the street, a suggestion to us as to areas particularly sensitive as far as the Sismik is concerned.

There needs also to be an understanding that would emcompass the point that Greece would drop its approach to the ICJ.

Kissinger: All right. That’s my understanding too. I will now go to Bitsios and see him alone. I’ll come back to see you then and then I will see my psychiatrist!

You guys have so complicated the Cyprus problem that no one can understand it and now you’re doing it to the Aegean.

What shall I say to the press? I propose I say that we have welcomed efforts on the part of the parties to seek a peaceful solution. I will say we had a good review of the situation and that we favor a peaceful solution and that I expect to get in touch with the Greek side to see what might develop.

Caglayangil: But don’t use words that suggest that you are being too much of a mediator.

Kissinger: I will say simply that I am trying to help but that we are not putting forth proposals of our own. Now tell me, why shouldn’t I be seen as a mediator. Am I that unpopular in Turkey?

Caglayangil: Not at all, you are very popular in Turkey. We need also to know what happened to the Defense Cooperation Agreement.

Kissinger: Hearings will start in the Senate in early September, within a week or two after the Congress returns from the Convention recess.

Caglayangil: But are you intending to seek its approval before the elections?

Kissinger: We will fight for it. Certainly we will get it through the Committees. That’s the most important thing. It depends really on how long the Congress sits.

Esenbel: Well the difficulty is that they come back on the 23rd of August and then there is another recess from September 2 to 7 so probably not much will begin until after the 7th.

Kissinger: I’ll give you an answer after Monday.7 Certainly there will be congressional action on the Senate side before October 2.

Esenbel: The problem is on the House side.

[Page 841]

Kissinger: Let me check on Monday. I will give you an answer next week.

Caglayangil: The most important thing is US/Turkish relations. If another problem is to develop now it would be bad.

Kissinger: You know my friendship for Turkey. If we had been left alone in 1974 we could have settled the Cyprus problem then.

Caglayangil: Well, we never doubted your good will. Even after the elections I believe you will be my partner.

Kissinger: Don’t say that to my friends here in the room from my side. Their morale will go down!

Caglayangil: The election is not unlike the Truman situation.

Kissinger: The analogy is good. And after the elections, the President will be in a stronger position to deal with issues such as these.

I will call you on Tuesday or Wednesday about the DCA after talking with McCloskey.

(The Foreign Minister and the Secretary then went into the hall and met with the Press. The foregoing conversation resumed at approximately at 1:40 pm, again in the Foreign Minister’s suite.)

Kissinger: I have now talked to Bitsios alone. I have shown him a consensus statement along the lines you indicated might be acceptable. He understood completely the matter concerning the designation of certain sensitive areas regarding the Sismik and he understands that this must be kept secret. If not, Turkey would be forced and expected to resume the activity of the Sismik.

As far as the consensus statement is concerned, he said he did not have the authority to accept it but would get in touch with Karamanlis and be back in touch with us tomorrow. He asked whether we were supporting the European draft of the resolution. I said that if it goes that way we would want a chance to discuss it and to see what we could support.

This is our position. We will see what views can be taken into account. If we are forced to a resolution we will probably have to support it. I didn’t tell him that; but I am telling you.

I said that this would have to be a matter of discussion. We would have to take into account the views of other parties whom we have not yet consulted.

Caglayangil: What are your views about the resolution and about the situation? Is the situation such that I call DEMIREL now?

Kissinger: I would wait until we have an answer from Bitsios. The third point that they want is that they need to have some kind of reference to the ICJ, as a minimum. They say they can’t have a consensus statement that doesn’t even mention that.

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Turkmen: Will they withdraw their unilateral approach to the ICJ?

The way it would have to be formulated is that negotiations are designed to lead to a joint approach to the Court. It would also have to be understood that negotiations have to be substantive, meaningful, and political.

Kissinger: He said of course it was quite possible that negotiations will leave an area that will have to go to the Court. Of course if you settle everything it wouldn’t be necessary. But he certainly did not exclude the Court.

Caglayangil: So the President would include all of this in his consensus statement?

Kissinger: I told him, that is Bitsios, that I would discuss this with you. He has to discuss it with Karamanlis. He knows Karamanlis cannot accept it without some reference to the ICJ.

Caglayangil: By what formula?

Kissinger: That surely can be negotiated if the Greeks buy the principle. We shouldn’t now try to negotiate the formula. Perhaps the way to do it would be to say that the Greek appeal to the ICJ has been put into abeyance or some such thing.

Caglayangil: I thank you very much.

Kissinger: I will call him again on this.

Turkmen: I am not a lawyer but my understanding is that once such a thing is put to the ICJ a process begins to run.

Kissinger: I’m sure we can clear this matter up as soon as I leave here, which I fear will be in about four hours! (The Secretary to Habib: They don’t seem to appreciate my sense of humor!) I will call Bitsios on this point.

Caglayangil: I thank you so much.

Kissinger: I do think it dangerous to go to Demirel yet. We don’t yet have a clear answer. Ambassador Bennett will report to me tomorrow as soon as the Greeks reply.

(There then ensued some discussion between the Turks and the Secretary concerning telephone numbers where he could be reached on Sunday.)

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 276, Memoranda of Conversations, Chronological File. Confidential; Nodis. The meeting was held at the Waldorf Towers, where Kissinger stayed while attending a UN Security Council session. He met with Greek Foreign Minister Bitsios earlier that morning; see Document 67.
  2. Reference is to the 1958 Continental Shelf Convention, which established the exclusive right of the coastal country to exercise sovereignty over its continental shelf for the purpose of exploration and exploitation of natural resources.
  3. See footnote 2, Document 67.
  4. See Documents 243 and 244.
  5. See Document 67.
  6. Reference is to President Johnson’s letter of June 5, 1964; see Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XVI, Document 54.
  7. August 16.