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104. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • Secretary’s Meeting with Caglayangil

PARTICIPANTS

  • Turkey

    • Foreign Minister Ihsan Sabri Caglayangil
    • Sukru Elekdag, Secretary General, MFA
    • Melih Esenbel, Turkish Ambassador to the United States
    • Coskun Kirca, Turkish Permanent Representative to NATO
    • Turgot Tulumen, Director General, Cyprus-Greece Affairs, MFA
    • Ekrem Guvendiren, Director, Cyprus-Greece Affairs, MFA (also interpreter)
  • United States

    • Secretary Vance
    • Under Secretary Habib
    • Assistant Secretary Vest, EUR
    • Ambassador W. Tapley Bennett, Jr., U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO
    • Mr. Raymond C. Ewing, EUR/SE, Deputy Director (notetaker)

SUMMARY: The Secretary met with Turkish Foreign Minister Caglayangil for 30 minutes to discuss Cyprus and the US-Turkey defense relationship. The meeting was shorter than had been anticipated because the Secretary’s preceding bilateral meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Papaligouras started late and ran longer than had been expected. END SUMMARY.

While the Turkish press and photographers were leaving the room, the Secretary told Caglayangil that he hoped to be able to come to Ankara as soon as it was possible to set a date. He and Caglayangil also briefly discussed the December 11 Turkish local elections.

Foreign Minister Caglayangil said that since he last met with the Secretary in New York in early October Turkey had made certain efforts with respect to the Cyprus problem.2 He had on suitable occasions responded to press queries suggesting that it was difficult to leave the Cyprus problem to the two communities and that it might be useful to consider some way to engage Turkey and Greece in the negotiating [Page 329]process. Caglayangil said that he thought his remarks might help pave the way for quadripartite talks by starting discussion of that idea.

He had also made other constructive statements, including the promise to withdraw Turkish military forces from Cyprus in the context of an agreed settlement. Prime Minister Demirel had made similar statements.3

In order to assist the efforts of Clark Clifford, State Department officers had been informed of Turkish thinking on a future constitutional arrangement for Cyprus.

It had been decided to withdraw 2,634 more Turkish troops from Cyprus in five steps beginning in the second half of December and continuing every two to three weeks thereafter. Caglayangil said that the withdrawal schedule could be extended or shortened as seemed useful.

Caglayangil noted that Denktash had stated that hotels in Varosha could be reopened so that foreign tourists could return. The Secretary said he had been pleased to note that statement. Caglayangil said that an expert committee would shortly do research in Varosha to look into which hotels could be opened and how Denktash’s statement could be implemented.

In summary, Caglayangil said that he felt the Turkish performance warranted “promotion with two stars to the next class.” However, he suspected that if grades were being awarded, the United States might not get as good a grade. Caglayangil said that there had been certain expectations from the United States which had not yet been met. In particular, the Turkish side needed to know when Congressional hearings would start on the Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA). Caglayangil also recalled that the Secretary had promised US support in helping Turkey with its economic difficulties in the international financial institutions. Caglayangil said that thus far such US efforts had not been effective with the IMF or other financial institutions. He said that he wanted to bring these matters to the Secretary’s attention quietly and calmly and not in the negative way that the Greek side usually approaches such questions. He also mentioned that the Greeks had asked to participate in NATO’s Long Term Defense Program but tried to [Page 330]block approval of the Turkish DCA or even a meaningful reference to it in the NAC communique.4

Caglayangil said he had appreciated learning of the US decision to help the Turkish Cypriots with “feasibility studies” as well as the idea of inviting Denktash to the United States. He hoped the latter could take place before Congressional hearings on the DCA.

Caglayangil said that as a result of December articles in the Christian Science Monitor and in the Turkish press, there was speculation in Turkey that the government had sold out its Cyprus case.5 He therefore thought it would be helpful to issue a joint statement after the meeting with the Secretary.

The Secretary said that he had talked to the President before leaving for Brussels and that the President had expressed particular interest in learning of the Turkish plans and schedule for further troop withdrawals. The Secretary said he would report to the President on his return to Washington on December 15 on the information which Caglayangil had outlined. With regard to international financial institutions, the Secretary said he had asked that we do all we could to be helpful to Turkey with the IMF and other financial institutions. He said he could not give a date for hearings until after he had discussed the matter with the President. The Secretary said he appreciated the statements which Caglayangil had made and noted that he had referred with interest and appreciation to these statements as constructive steps by Turkey when he spoke to the press on December 7.6 With regard to the idea of a joint statement, the Secretary said he would take the draft which Caglayangil provided and respond later.7 He thought it would be better to postpone any such statement until December 9.8 Caglayangil said he had no problem putting the statement off until the following day.

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The Secretary said he met with Greek Foreign Minister Papaligouras just prior to his meeting with Caglayangil. Papaligouras had been very concerned about the DPC communique and the way the DCAs were mentioned in the draft NAC communique.9 The Secretary said that he and Papaligouras had also discussed general US-Greek relations. He had raised the matter of possible four-power Cyprus talks and said he thought this might be a constructive idea. Papaligouras had made clear that the current Greek position is negative. In general, Papaligouras had been very emotional on this and other issues.

Secretary General Elekdag emphasized again the importance to the Turks of learning when hearings would take place. The Secretary reiterated that he would have to talk to the President. He said there had already been some consultations on the Hill and that we were not sitting on our hands. We must decide how to handle this in our own way and move when we were sure that the proper foundation had been laid. Elekdag responded that the Foreign Minister had understood in New York that hearings would be arranged in late December or early January. The Secretary said he did not recall any such specific timetable having been discussed and noted that there had been no record kept of their meeting. He did recall that Caglayangil felt that nothing should be done until after the November 20 Greek elections. He also noted that nothing could realistically be done with Congress in December. Ambassador Esenbel thought that it was not very likely that anything could be arranged until after Congress returns January 19.

The Secretary said it was important not to be concerned with specific dates but rather to move on a pace that was appropriate in order to succeed. We had started the necessary steps toward that goal.

Caglayangil suggested that under these circumstances, it was important that Turkish troop withdrawals from Cyprus should not be wasted and wondered if it was better to delay until a more propitious time. The Secretary responded that it would indeed be constructive to go forward with the withdrawals and thought this would be seen by Congress as a useful step.

Caglayangil said that since Turkey did not have unlimited numbers of soldiers to pull out from Cyprus, he did not want the reduction to be already forgotten at such time as the hearings were held. The Secretary asked if he was free to tell Congress about the Turkish withdrawal action. Caglayangil thought that it would be helpful to do that. The Secretary hoped that when the Turks announced the first reductions they would also make clear that more would follow at a later date. Elekdag said they would be spread over time to get the maximum [Page 332]impact in conjunction with the hearings. Caglayangil said in announcing the first withdrawal a general statement would also refer to the broader context and imply further reductions will be forthcoming.

  1. Source: Department of State, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Cyrus R. Vance, Secretary of State—1977–1980, Lot 84D241, Box 10, unlabeled folder. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Ewing on December 16; approved by Anderson on December 23. Vance and Çağlayangil were in Brussels for the biannual NATO Ministerial meeting. The meeting took place at the Turkish Mission to NATO.
  2. See Documents 100 and 101.
  3. For example, during a press conference on October 19, Demirel was asked by a Swedish journalist how long Turkey planned on keeping its military in Cyprus. Demirel responded, “Until a new order is established. That is, until a political solution is reached and the people there are no longer threatened.” Demirel went on to say that he had already withdrawn a portion of the soldiers stationed in Cyprus. (Telegram 7750 from Ankara, October 20; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770385–1110)
  4. The Greek Foreign Minister and Vance discussed this during their meeting immediately preceding this one. See Document 172. Vance refers to this meeting later in this conversation.
  5. Reference is presumably to two articles in The Christian Science Monitor, both written by Sam Cohen, “Turkey Talks of Cyprus Plan as Part of a Package” November 25, 1977, p. 11, and “U.S.-Turkish Deal Reported on Cyprus and Arms Ban,” December 7, 1977, p. 3. Cohen quoted Çağlayangil based on statements the Foreign Minister made to the Turkish press. The latter article in particular presented agreements between the United States and Turkey as close to final and based on an explicit and mutual understanding that Turkey would “unfreeze” the Cyprus dispute and subsequently the United States would complete legislation to resume its Defense Cooperation Agreement with Turkey.
  6. Vance made a statement to the press on his departure from Washington on December 7; not found.
  7. The draft was not found.
  8. For Vance’s December 9 news conference, see the Department of State Bulletin, January 1978, pp. 28–30.
  9. For the DPC communiqué, see footnote 3, see Document 103. For the draft NAC communiqué, see footnote 3, Document 172.