60. Memorandum From A. Denis Clift of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Scowcroft)1
- U.S.-Greek Bases Negotiations—Status Report
The third round in the U.S.-Greek bases negotiations ended on February 13. The following is a brief summary of developments to date and issues which remain to be negotiated. We have made substantial progress in our bases negotiations with the Greeks. Principal problems to be ironed out are our use of the air facilities at Souda Bay, Crete [11/2 lines not declassified].
Status of Forces Agreement
Except for one relatively minor issue, agreement has been reached on a new Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). State expects that this issue will be quickly resolved and that the new agreement will be formally implemented shortly through an exchange of notes. The new agreement will reduce somewhat the privileges accorded U.S. military personnel in Greece, but they will still enjoy rights in excess of those provided for in the basic NATO SOFA.
Through the work of a special subgroup, which has met periodically over the past six months, we have concluded several agreements on ways by which the Greeks can benefit directly from our telecommunications facilities. Specifically, we have agreed to provide them training, equipment, and the use of spare circuitry.
[1 paragraph (7 lines) not declassified]
Command and Control
The Greeks are seeking the “Hellenization” of our facilities through an agreement which would define the responsibilities and duties of the American and Greek commanders of each facility, provide for the flying of the Greek flag, and call for the maintenance of external security by Greek guards, etc. DOD is preparing a draft agreement on this [Page 214] subject, and we have offered to host at an early date a subgroup meeting to discuss it.
Hellenikon Air Base
This has been the most difficult issue in the negotiations. Last spring we agreed to close the separate U.S. Air Force Base at Athens International Airport and combine it with the adjoining Greek Air Force Base, commonly called Hellenikon. Since then, we have been battling with the Greeks over the number of U.S. military personnel who would be permitted to remain at the facility. In the last negotiating session, the Greek side finally agreed we could keep approximately 1050 personnel on the base and we could relocate a number of support activities off the base in the Athens area. (There are now about 1500 U.S. military personnel on the base.) The agreement is, however, [1 line not declassified]. In round three, we described in general terms what we could offer, and we invited a Greek team to visit the U.S. for further discussions. The team will probably come here in early April. State is reasonably optimistic that we can develop a package which will satisfy the Greeks, thus nailing down the Hellenikon issue.
In the third round, we made a strong approach to the Greek side to lift the remaining restrictions on our operations at Souda Bay which were imposed during the 1974 Cyprus crisis. A special subgroup met several times to discuss these restrictions, as well as our interest in revising the existing (1959) agreement to permit expanded use by the U.S. Navy of Souda Bay airfield. State believes it will be difficult to achieve our objectives, at least in the near future, because of the Greek Government’s sensitivity to the leftist campaign in Crete against foreign bases.
The Greek side has emphasized interest in an overall military facilities agreement which would be submitted to the Greek Parliament for approval and to which would be attached as annexes the separate agreements that we have concluded on specific subjects. In round three, we told the Greeks that we could agree in principle [2 lines not declassified]. The Greeks listened to our presentation on the Greek- NATO relationship, but gave no hint as to whether or when they would reply.
Besides the visits to the U.S. [less than 1 line not declassified] and a subgroup session on command and control, State expects that there will be subgroup meetings on Souda Bay and possibly on Hellenikon in the next two months. Depending on the progress achieved in these [Page 215] meetings, a fourth negotiating round will probably be scheduled for May. Although we could conceivably conclude our bilateral negotiations in this round [11/2 lines not declassified] State’s current guess is that a fifth plenary will be needed in the summer or early fall.
- Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Middle East and South Asia, Box 10, Greece 4. Secret. Sent for information. Scowcroft wrote “thanks” and initialed the memorandum.↩