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111. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for Congressional Liaison (Moore), the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations (Beckel), and the Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations (Bennet) to President Carter 1

SUBJECT

  • Turkish DCA—Legislative Strategy

Summary

If we decide to move ahead with the Turkish DCA, the votes will be hard to come by but probably obtainable. The critical question is how to minimize the damage to our credibility with Brademas, Sarbanes, and the Greek community, who will feel that we have backed down on campaign and personal commitments to them. If the issues are handled properly, we can probably avoid serious damage to this and other legislative priorities.

The requirements are (i) a clear, compelling rationale for our position and (ii) at least a week’s prior notice to Brademas and Sarbanes before any leaks or public announcements from us.

Background

The Turks are pressing for action on the DCA. Ecevit, the new Turkish Prime Minister, told State Counselor Matt Nimetz that he might not attend the NATO summit if the Administration does not act on the DCA by May and that he would be forced to take other steps to readjust Turkish foreign policy.

Ecevit and Caramanlis will hold a summit meeting on March 9 and 10 which may offer some hope for future improvement in Greek-Turkish relations.2 In addition, Ecevit has promised to produce proposals on Cyprus within the next few weeks for U.N. Secretary-General [Page 351] Waldheim, and there is a chance that these proposals—the first serious proposals the Greeks have put forward—can provide a basis for negotiations between the Cypriot communities.3

Even if the summit goes well and Ecevit’s proposals are reasonable, the pro-Greeks on Capitol Hill will still want to use stick rather than carrot to encourage further concessions by Turkey. They will recall campaign promises in which we pledged to work toward a fair and equitable settlement on Cyprus and in favor of the arms embargo on Turkey. The mere possibility of progress toward a settlement will not in any way satisfy the Greek-American constituency.

Tactical Considerations

On April 4, Congressman Lee Hamilton will hold hearings on Greece and Turkey in connection with FY 79 assistance. This hearing had originally been scheduled for March 13, but Hamilton agreed to postpone it to give the Administration time to make its decision on the DCA. Meanwhile, Hamilton and a majority of members of the House International Relations Committee have written Secretary Vance recommending that the DCA be submitted in adequate time to be considered along with this year’s Security Assistance bill and promising support.

The House floor will probably be the most serious hurdle, although Rules may be a problem because O’Neill has always supported Brademas on this issue. With strong Presidential endorsement, we believe the Turkish DCA can pass the House. In the Senate, the most serious problem is the impacted calendar.

In view of the April 4 deadline, we must have a final decision and full rationale by roughly March 20. With this in hand, the following steps should then be taken:

1. At least a week before announcement or leaks, the Secretary of State and possibly the President should talk individually with Sarbanes, Brademas, Rosenthal, and Eagleton to explain the reasons for the Administration decision. We should state frankly that we want to give them time to adjust to what we know to be a difficult development for them. We should appeal for as much understanding as possible and for help in explaining to their Greek-American constituents the factors which compelled the Administration decision. We should invite them to make whatever use of the information they wish during the succeeding week, but make it clear that any leaks will come from them, not us.

2. Simultaneously, the decision should be communicated directly to Prime Minister Caramanlis and President Kyprianou, so that they do not hear it first from the Greek-Americans.

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3. Shortly before public announcement, we should communicate the decision to Zablocki, Findley, Solarz, and Hamilton (who support the DCA) and to Sparkman, Case, and Javits.

4. There should be a Presidential letter to the Speaker of the House and the Vice President for further distribution to all Members in which we set forth the reasons for the decision and describe the progress that has taken place on Cyprus and our commitment to continue U.S. involvement in supporting the U.N.-sponsored intercontinental [intercommunal?] talks about NATO.

5. Responsibility for a detailed legislative strategy and execution should be assigned to State.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 75, Turkey: 1–7/78. No classification marking. At the upper right corner of the first page, Carter wrote, “Frank—After #1 and perhaps #2 [see footnotes below], then I’ll make a decision. JC.” In a March 8 covering memorandum to Brzezinski, Henze wrote, “I am appalled by the weakness of this paper. It seems concerned primarily with the problem of how to break bad news to the Greek lobby, not with approaching the task with the strongest possible case which will ensure that the Administration’s position prevails and it does not end up looking inept in Congress.” (Ibid.)
  2. Carter underlined the first portion of this sentence and wrote “#1” in the margin. Both Ecevit and Karamanlis publicly declared their meeting in Montreux, Switzerland, March 10–11 a success. See footnote 7, Document 175.
  3. Carter underlined the first portion of this sentence and wrote “#2” in the margin. He circled “the Greeks” and connected the circle to a question mark in the margin.