[Page 325]

103. Memorandum of Conversation1

BILATERAL MEETING BETWEEN SECRETARY BROWN AND TURKISH MINISTER OF DEFENSE TURAN KAPANLI

ATTENDEES

  • U.S. Side
  • Secretary Brown, Mr. McGiffert, Mr. Siena, Admiral Hanson
  • Turkish Side
  • Minister of Defense Kapanli
  • Permanent Representative A. Coskun Kirca
  • Chief of the NATO Department of Foreign Affairs M. Galip Balkar
  • An Under Secretary from the Ministry of Defense
  • A Lt. General from the Ministry of Defense
  • Defense Advisor to NATO Permanent Representative M. Tugay Ozceri

1. Dr. Brown opened the meeting by congratulating Minister Kapanli upon his recent appointment as Minister of Defense, saying that he was looking forward to working closely with him. He said that we in the United States place great importance on our relationship with Turkey and that the personal relationship between himself and Minister Kapanli was most important because of strains that had developed between our countries over the past few years. We in the U.S. Government and particularly in the Defense Department value very highly our close bilateral arrangement and hope that in the coming year we can come even closer together, and that he would do all that he could to bring this about. He continued that he had spoken personally with President Carter who shares these strong feelings about NATO as a whole and about the importance of Turkey to the Alliance—that President Carter and Dr. Brown want to see the relationship between our countries strengthened.

Dr. Brown continued that the United States knows that it must take certain steps and that Turkey must also do so to bring this strengthening of relationships about—that rebuilding it is a two-way street. The problem on Cyprus has disturbed this relationship in recent years. Discussions between Secretary Vance and the Turkish Foreign Minister will be taking place and Dr. Brown believes that this is a basis [Page 326]for moving ahead and rebuilding our relationships in the months to come.2

Dr. Brown assured Minister Kapanli that within the restraints imposed by our Congress on the Executive Branch of the United States, he wants to do all that he can to improve our relationships with Turkey and to improve the Turkish defense capability. As soon as the Foreign Ministers’ discussions have moved ahead in the next few months, he will be doing all he can to push the Defense Cooperation Agreement through Congress. Dr. Brown stated that he had visited Turkey several times, that he had enormous respect for the fighting qualities of the Turkish military, and for the dedication of Turkey to the Alliance, and thus had very strong feelings and reasons for restoring our traditional relationship.

2. Minister Kapanli thanked Dr. Brown and said that he had listened with great attention to his interesting and valuable ideas, that he especially liked and supported and aligned himself with Dr. Brown’s statements about the Alliance with Turkey and about the NATO Alliance to which we each belonged. He said that although he felt that there was no substantive reason for strains in our relationship, we can’t deny that they exist, but that Dr. Brown’s words about Turkey’s position in the Alliance meant much to him and that he especially felt that the statement of what Dr. Brown was prepared to do in 1978 was most important.

He continued that for all these reasons he would only be too sorry to see any lessening or loss of confidence by the Turkish people in NATO—that we have a long history of Turkish partnership and sharing of Alliance principles. Kapanli said he was especially heartened by Dr. Brown’s mention of having been to Turkey and his impression of the Turkish fighting men of which the Turks are so very proud. Speaking of initiatives to serve to ease strains in our relationships, Kapanli said he was not prepared to submit that the faults can be directed toward the Turkish government for the state of affairs, but said that the talks between our Foreign Ministers certainly had a potential for improving the relationships. He agreed to the need for defense cooperation and welcomed Dr. Brown’s emphasis on this and was pleased that the U.S. government recognized the importance of the Defense Cooperation Agreement to our relationship.

Kapanli continued that he was grateful for Dr. Brown’s words about his efforts to do everything he could within the constraints imposed by the U.S. Congress and said that he wanted to support and align himself with the statements made about the Belgian government [Page 327](sic) in the Plenary Session the day before and the need for a strong commitment to the Alliance.3 He emphasized that each and every member of NATO is duty bound to commit itself. He said he was speaking to Dr. Brown in a similar spirit and attitude. He remarked that Turkey, in spite of dedicating 17% of its budget to defense last year, is increasing this percentage to 20% this year, a fact which proves Turkey’s dedication to the Alliance.

Finally, Kapanli stated that the ideas he had presented to Dr. Brown had the support of Turkey’s public opinion and are not just his views.

3. Dr. Brown, in closing the meeting, stated that he was certainly not attributing any blame to the Turkish government or to the United States government for the strains that had developed between the two countries over the past few years. He said that the question is what to do now and that this was a problem for our Foreign Ministers, that he is confident that they will take steps to resolve this. He concluded by saying that it was a task for himself and Minister Kapanli to do all they could to advance the relationships in the terms that they could handle at their level.

4. Both Dr. Brown and Minister Kapanli thanked each other warmly for the opportunity to meet, and the meeting adjourned.

Thor Hanson Rear Admiral, USN
Military Assistant
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–80–0035, Box 30, Turkey, 1977 ISO.–680.1. Confidential. Copies were sent to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, ASD (ISA), DepASD (ISA) EurAffairs, and Komer. Brown and Kapanli were in Brussels for the meeting of the NATO Defense Planning Committee December 6–7.
  2. See Document 104.
  3. Reference is presumably to statements made during the DPC meeting generally about the ongoing importance of maintaining strong relations and cooperation among NATO members for defense against the Warsaw Pact, and specifically an acknowledgement that Turkey (and Portugal) urgently needed external assistance for the modernization and support of its forces. These statements were reiterated as Paragraphs 2 and 9, respectively, in the final communiqué issued at the conclusion of the meeting.