47. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Ford 1
- U.S.-Greek Bases Negotiations—Round Two
The second round of the U.S.-Greek bases negotiations was held in Athens during the period April 7–29. This memorandum reviews the status of the negotiations to date.
Background. During the first round in the negotiations in February, the Greek government requested an adjustment in their security relationship with the United States along the following lines:
- —Termination of homeporting;
- —Closing out of all U.S. operations at Athenai (sometimes called Hellenikon) Air Force Base near Athens;
- —“Hellenization” of all remaining U.S. facilities in Greece, including Greek participation to some degree in U.S. communications operations;
- —Revision of the bilateral Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) to bring it in line with the NATO SOFA;
- —General improvements at the Souda Bay, Crete, base in return for continued U.S. Navy use of the airfield there, and;
- —[1 line not declassified].
The Second Round. Our principal objectives in the second round were to:
- —Obtain Greek agreement to continue the U.S. presence at Athenai Air Force Base, with the fewest possible changes in current activities;
- —Use the termination of homeporting as a quid for Greek support of principal U.S. objectives;
- —Hold the line on the SOFA issue as much as possible, while expressing our intention to be forthcoming in certain selected areas, and;
- —Avoid bilateral negotiation of issues which touch on the Greek- NATO relationship such as [less than 1 line not declassified] installations built with NATO funds, steering such talks into the NATO forum.
Substantial progress was made toward achieving principal U.S. objectives:
- —The Greek government agreed to allow a continued U.S. presence at Athenai Air Force Base (a principal U.S. objective in the negotiations) in exchange for the termination of homeporting by the U.S. Specifically, the United States will retain “essential” operations at Athenai (logistics flights, [2 lines not declassified]), while giving up certain non-essential support functions. Additionally, to meet Greek political needs, the base will be “Hellenized”, i.e., given the “cosmetic” appearance of a Greek rather than American facility.
- —Action on the status of forces issue was confined to technical “working group” meetings designed to establish a framework for further discussions.
- —The Greeks were informed that further progress in the bilateral negotiations will depend in large part on early clarification of Greece’s future role in NATO. The Greeks expressed their full understanding of this point, but indicated their desire to move cautiously to avoid inflaming volatile Greek public opinion on the NATO issue.
Outlook. Future negotiating sessions will focus on:
- —Reaching agreement on the status of forces issue;
- —Determining the degree of Greek participation in U.S. communications operations;
- —Working out the details associated with continued U.S. access to and “Hellenization” of Athenai Air Force Base;
- —Arranging for the U.S. Navy’s periodic use of the pier facilities near Athens vacated as a result of the termination of homeporting;
- —Elimination, reduction or consolidation of certain other U.S. facilities considered “least essential” to retain from our standpoint, and;
- —Financial compensation for the residual value of U.S. facilities turned over to the Greeks as a result of the negotiations.
The talks are currently in recess. A date for resumption has not been decided.[Page 155]
In the United States, Congressional and press reaction to the joint communiqué issued at the close of this round in the negotiations—particularly the termination of homeporting—was favorable, citing the beginning of a “new and more mature U.S.-Greek relationship.” In Greece, the public expression of views has been curtailed by the effects of a newspaper strike, but observers believe that Prime Minister Karamanlis’ image has been strengthened in relation to his parliamentary opposition on the left.
- Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Middle East and South Asia, 1974–1977, Box 10, Greece 4. Secret. Sent for information. A notation on the memorandum indicates the President saw it.↩