109. Telegram From the Embassy in Turkey to the Department of State1
1443. For the Secretary from the Ambassador. Subj: US–GOT Relations.
1. Although I have had a good opportunity to discuss the subject with Matt Nimetz over the past two days, I believe it is my responsibility to convey to you directly my strong recommendation that you and the President decide to move firmly in support of early congressional endorsement of the Turkish DCA in the hearings during the next month.
2. The reasons for and against this have been rehearsed at length, but I want to summarize my own views in the light of the meetings we have had over the past two days.[Page 346]
3. Fundamentally, I believe that our relations with Turkey will be irreversibly damaged if we do not make this move. This country is more important to us than either Greece or Cyprus, although I do not think that we should let it become an either/or choice.
4. In his polite, matter-of-fact, way Ecevit has given us a time limit. I have no doubt that he means it. If we do not move on the DCA by the time of the NATO summit, Turkey will make a major assessment of its interests and alignments in this world.2 The conventional wisdom is that Turkey has no options. I do not believe that this is the case over the long run. Certainly Turkey does not.
5. As a first step, I believe that Turkey will close down the five US facilities which have been in provisional status. Ironically, the significance of these installations may be even greater for their capability to monitor and extend our arms control agreements than for purely military reasons. While all of them, at least theoretically, could be relocated, it would be at substantial cost to the US, probably including some degradation of our intelligence and verification capability.
6. I also take seriously the statement that Ecevit will not go to the NATO summit meeting in Washington in May if the DCA is still languishing. Even aside from the impact of the non-attendance of the scheduled presiding officer at the summit, his absence would be a major blow to the Alliance at a session presumably designed to show solidarity and strengthen the Alliance. It is clear to me that most of our allies are uneasy about the embargo and its consequences, and there is a good deal of sympathy for the Turkish position despite the view that the GOT should have been more forthcoming on Cyprus.
7. I do not know what, if anything, the Turkish Government would do with respect to its position in NATO. However, I believe that Turkey will set itself on a path that gradually but inexorably will diverge from that of its NATO partners. One practical factor is that as long as our NATO-related forces remain here under the restrictions and burdens imposed by “provisional status,” which can only be relieved by passage of the DCA, tensions and difficulties will increase in our [garble—military-to]-military relations to a point where we will probably both want our forces and our weapons removed. The consequence will be a progressive severing of Alliance ties when preservation of an acceptable East-West balance is a sine qua non for our efforts to build a stable detente and extend the arms control process.
8. Turkey is in deep economic trouble, primarily because of the impact of oil prices and the attempts of previous governments to continue an unsustainably high growth rate. Ecevit is like an archaeologist pre[Page 347]siding over a dig, the dimensions of which are only gradually becoming clear and the precise extent of which is not yet known. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that the political and social stability and the democratic institutions of this country could, perhaps quite rapidly, be put in jeopardy. To judge from our contacts with Turkish officials in the past few days, the Turkish Government itself is deeply worried about the social consequences of the present economic crisis and of the austerity measures necessary to correct it. Although it is an irrational view, the fact of the embargo leaves us holding some of the bag for this situation in Turkish opinion. More importantly, I am convinced that as long as the embargo exists, we will be hampered in our ability to be helpful in this country’s struggle to maintain the political institutions basic to the freedom of 42 million people. Its removal seems to be a first step to anything else.
9. Finally, I realize that there are differences of view on whether the embargo gives leverage on Cyprus. I am firmly convinced that it does not, that it has operated for three years as an impediment rather than a stimulus to progress. However, I now believe this issue is academic. Ecevit, in my judgment, is firmly committed to do everything reasonable toward a Cyprus settlement, embargo or no. Under these circumstances, continuation of the embargo will only do more damage to our relationship and to the Alliance as a whole. It will not push Ecevit into doing more to settle Cyprus than he would do without it.
10. I also accept the point of view that the embargo now operates as a disincentive to the Greeks and Greek Cypriots to negotiate. There is burgeoning evidence that their policies are more influenced by the objective of keeping the embargo in place, with the mistaken idea this is the way for us to force Turkish concessions on their behalf, than to achieving progress on substance. It would be unfortunate if the disincentive of the embargo led them—and us—to miss a settlement opportunity which may not recur for some time.
11. I realize that from my perspective I can only see part of the problem, but I feel that I owe it to you and to the President to be as clear as I can in stating this perspective. Those who oppose lifting the embargo now tie their willingness to do so to “a solution” in Cyprus. “A solution”, I fear, is a ways away, even with the maximum good will on all sides. If they will not agree to lifting the embargo until a settlement is signed, sealed and delivered, there is not much likelihood of their being brought around in time to avoid many of the consequences I have alluded to above.
12. For all these reasons I urge that we bite this bullet now.