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110. Memorandum From the Counselor of the Department of State (Nimetz) to Secretary of State Vance 1

SUBJECT

  • Congressional Views on US-Turkish Relations

George Vest and I met with Brademas and Sarbanes February 28 to describe last week’s talks in Ankara. I also met with Lee Hamilton on March 1, who agreed to move the hearings back to April 4 so that we could comment more convincingly on the Cyprus situation.

In my meeting with Brademas and Sarbanes, I stressed my negative approach to any immediate economic assistance to Turkey and to making a commitment on the Turkish Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA). I also indicated that I had pressed for real progress on Cyprus in order to create the conditions which would make DCA approval possible. I told Brademas and Sarbanes that the Turkish proposals on Cyprus are not yet finished but from a general description we were led to expect a true federation and a territorial approach involving relocation of a substantial number of Turkish Cypriots; there were signs as well that Varosha would be negotiable. I emphasized that I had stressed in Ankara the importance we attach to forthcoming Turkish proposals. Ecevit had stressed to me that he wants Cyprus solved and that the proposals will be reasonable.

I indicated that the Turks anticipate the Administration will move ahead in Congress with the DCA in the coming weeks and that, while they made no threats, they expect to know exactly where they stand before the NATO summit in Washington at the end of May. I said we attach great importance to a Cyprus settlement, but we wanted to maintain and strengthen our relationship with Turkey. I told Brademas and Sarbanes that the risk of a complete break with Turkey was a serious one and that the present government could be expected to re-evaluate its defense relationship if the DCA were not approved this spring.

Brademas responded that in his view the Administration had undermined the credibility of a clear and direct linkage between movement to resolve the US-Turkish defense relationship and a Cyprus settlement. He and Sarbanes reiterated at length their complaints about the Administration’s FY 79 assistance proposals for Turkey, Greece and [Page 349]Cyprus; their unhappiness with press comments made recently by Ambassador Spiers;2 and their displeasure with the Department’s human rights report on Cyprus.3 (Brademas said he would no longer oppose human rights amendments to international financial institution legislation after his experience with the human rights reporting by the Department.) Both said they appreciated the continuing dialogue with the Department, but they felt they had been blindsided several times in the last year. They said they sensed the Administration might well be moving toward asking for congressional approval of the DCA. If that happened, there would be a “bloody battle.” Already there was a sense of outrage in the Greek-American community; the President’s popularity and credibility had been clearly damaged. Brademas and Sarbanes felt the President needed them on a number of difficult questions before the Congress and they were being put in an impossible situation.

I responded to their specific points and to their political analysis, but noted that my job is to give advice on the merits of the case. I suggested they consider the likely political repercussions of a Turkish change of policy, and the consequences of a congressional investigation into “who lost Turkey” in the event Turkey cuts or limits its links with NATO or the U.S.

At the end of the conversation, both said they would like to be treated as allies and wanted to try to work this out with the Administration. They urged that another meeting be held in a week or two. We agreed we would certainly keep in touch before any final decisions were taken.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Records of Counselor Nimetz, 1977–1980, Lot 81D85, Box 2, Eastern Mediterranean—1978. Confidential; Nodis. Cleared by Vest. A copy was sent to Bennet.
  2. Reference is presumably to Ambassador Spiers’ interview with the Turkish news agency ANKA, conducted in English on January 24 and widely disseminated to other news outlets. Spiers made many of the same arguments he presented in Document 109. On an earlier date he stated, “I am prepared to argue with anyone who says that the embargo is a ‘trump card’ which will produce a solution in Cyprus. The embargo has not made a solution easier, on the contrary it has made it more difficult.” (Telegram 747 from Ankara, January 27; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780048–0673)
  3. See footnote 5, Document 46.