48. Telegram From the Department of State tothe Embassy in Greece1

123252. Subject: US-Greek Base Negotiations: Planning for the Future. Ref: Athens 3370.2

During round two of the US-Greek base negotiations, we explored numerous aspects of future American-Greek defense cooperation. Our efforts in the months ahead need to be directed primarily toward: (a) consolidating the bilateral understandings already reached, through discussions among experts on both sides, leading to arrangements which can later be endorsed at the political level and (b) insuring that the future Greek-NATO relationship is clarified in a manner which provides for fullest possible Greek participation in the integrated military command structure. Our new bilateral arrangements with Greece should be consistent with and complement the Greek-NATO relationship.
We endorse Embassy Athens recommendation (reftel) that no date be considered now for a third plenary round of bilateral negotiations, but we recognize we may have to revise our planning if Caramanlis and Bitsios push for an early third round when they meet the President and the Secretary in Brussels. Our preference is to postpone such a round until well on into the fall and after issues have been resolved at the subgroup level. By that time, Greeks [garble] which are [Page 156] only now beginning (USNATO 2634),3 should have proceeded to the point where key issues have been delineated and possible avenues of resolution identified, [11/2 lines not declassified] Greek eligibility for infrastructure funds.
As the Embassy appreciates and as we informed the Greeks, considerable time is needed by Washington agencies to develop and staff proposals we plan to make on various issues and the Greek proposals for technical training and shared-use at facilities. A tentative work program and timetable for joint planning purposes is set out below:
Tatoi: we understand that a decision on this subject cannot be delayed until round three and, as indicated in State 109638,4 we are prepared to discuss this issue directly with GOG, while investigating alternative sites in the weeks ahead. A decision on this subject should be possible by early June.
Homeporting: specific proposals for future US use of the pier at Elefsis and other residual homeporting facilities are being developed by DOD. These will be ready for presentation to the Greeks in further technical level discussions in Athens by early June.
Hellenikon Air Base: a comprehensive package of proposals to substantially reduce US personnel and visibility at Hellenikon is being developed by DOD. After this work is completed, a small team will be prepared to return to Athens to present this package in subgroup discussions with the Greeks. If an agreement can be reached in the subgroup it could then be confirmed at the Calogeras–Stearns level. Thereafter, the US team would return to Washington and initiate action to draft an implementing technical agreement. We do not desire to implement visible changes at the airbase until after subgroup agreement is confirmed by Calogeras–Stearns. Changes, however, could be initiated before the formal technical agreement has been completed and signed if the Greeks feel the domestic political situation requires such action. We appreciate that pressures may be heavy to move ahead quickly on Hellenikon, but we would prefer to have the Greeks approach us to resume subgroup meetings rather than initiate action ourselves to fix the date. We hope to complete preparations for further subgroup discussions by late June. However, a delay until early or mid-July would facilitate extensive staffing on this complex issue.
Telecommunications: we are breaking down this issue into the same three categories discussed in round two—[less than 1 line not declassified] defense communications system at other sites. After staffing [Page 157] is completed in Washington, we would be prepared to discuss these topics one by one in Athens, preferably after work on the Hellenikon subgroup is finished. This would suggest that telecommunications issues should be addressed some time in late July or August. We would prefer to leave to Greek initiative the calling of future subgroup meetings on this subject.
SOFA: a draft revision of existing Greek-US SOFA agreements is now under preparation in DOD, a process which will not be completed until mid-summer. It will embody specific alternatives discussed in Athens at the subgroup level. It would be helpful to check with Economides and others in the Foreign Ministry to determine when they would prefer to resume bilateral SOFA discussions with us.
Umbrella Agreement: we are putting off until further progress has been made bilaterally and in NATO the decision whether we will accommodate the Greek proposal for an umbrella agreement. For internal purposes only, we are putting together a counterdraft to the Greek text received in round two. We would plan to seek comments from addressees and DOD on the merit of this redraft. We wish to avoid discussion of this matter with the Greeks at the moment; and to look at this question once more when the Greek-NATO relationship is fully clarified.
Other Subjects: we will continue over the summer to examine those facilities in Greece deemed “least essential to maintain” in NSSM 215.5 Although some of these facilities were mentioned to the Greek side in round two, we should avoid referring to these discussions even in the context of a trade-off—for example, for Tatoi. Least essential should not be read as not essential and it appears that interested US agencies who fund and manage these facilities do not agree that they are available as trade-offs without a detailed eveluation of what we would obtain in return.
Comments by Embassy Athens and USNATO on the above time schedule would be welcome.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 84, Athens Embassy Files: Lot 78 F 160, Box 60, DEF 15, Bases and Installations 1975. Secret; Immediate; Limdis. Repeated Priority to USNATO, USNMR SHAPE, USDEL MC, USCINCEUR, CINCUSNAVEUR, CINCUSAFE, and CINCLANT.
  2. Dated May 1. (Ibid.)
  3. Dated May 12. (Ibid., RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1975)
  4. Dated May 10. (Ibid.)
  5. Document 33.