113. Telegram From the Embassy in Turkey to the Department of State1

2351. TAGS: US-Turkey Relations: Deputy Secretary’s Meeting With Prime Minister Ecevit.

1. Following a short private meeting with the Prime Minister, DepSec Christopher met at 10:00 am March 29 for 45 minutes with Ecevit, Foreign Minister Orcun, MFA SecGen Elekdag, and MFA officials Batu, Tulumen and Ozgul. DepSec accompanied by Ambassador, [Page 354]Counselor Nimetz, Assistant Secretary (EUR) Vest, EUR/SE Director Ewing, and DCM Dillon.

2. PriMin opened meeting by telling group that DepSec had told him about key decisions taken on Turkish-American relations and had conveyed letter from President. Ecevit said DepSec had stressed importance of revitalizing Turkish-American relations. He then asked DepSec to make his presentation.

3. DepSec said that President and his senior advisors, including Vice President Mondale, Secretary Vance, Secretary Brown, Mr. Brzezinski and two or three other key advisors had met on Monday, March 27, for complete discussion of Turkish-American relations.2 This had culminated a two week review. Following the meeting, the President had asked DepSec to come immediately to Ankara and had given him letter for the PriMin. The goal of the decisions taken was to resume the closest possible relationship between the two countries. In making his decisions, the President had reviewed various options and had taken into account diplomatic, military, and political factors. Particularly in dealing with political factors, it was important to understand that this was no exact science. Reasonable men could differ. There was, however, now a concrete Presidential decision to go ahead with the program which he would describe. This program would go forward promptly and would be presented in congressional hearings on April 6. DepSec stressed that one important background element in review process was need to make sure that any program proposed could succeed in Congress; this point had been reinforced by recent experience with Panama Canal Treaty.

4. DepSec said there were four basic elements in the program which the President intended to recommend to Congress:

A) The President would recommend to Congress that the embargo be lifted immediately. As PriMin had said in January, it was the negative factor in our relationship which needed to be removed.3 Lifting the embargo would free up the MAP pipeline of some 85 to 90 million U.S. dollars; would open up transfer of U.S. equipment from third countries; and would open up a whole range of other possibilities that had been precluded by the embargo.

B) President would recommend to Congress 50 million dollars in security supporting assistance (SSA) as an economic loan for BOP purposes. This was a substantial departure for the President because the aid budget for 1978 was already in the Congress and thus the President [Page 355]would be reopening his earlier request. DepSec noted parenthetically that the President was pleased with the Turkish accord with the IMF and noted that the U.S. had tried to be “somewhat helpful.” He said that an SSA loan had a symbolic as well as a practical effect. It would demonstrate U.S. confidence in the Turkish economy and, in Ecevit’s words, would represent “compensating vitalism”. It was an important beginning.

C) The President will go ahead with 175 million dollars FMS in FY–1979, the same level as in 1978.

D) The President believed the DCA should be renegotiated to recognize 1978 realities. As PriMin himself had said, it should be reviewed in light of current developments. This should be done promptly.

5. Through this approach President Carter could put his own stamp on U.S. military relations with Turkey. The most important reason for renegotiation, however, was our belief that the current DCA would not succeed in the Congress. This was primarily because of the four-year term and the billion dollar commitment. The agreement could be improved and modernized. There was a new mood in Congress and a desire to evaluate matters on a shorter term basis. Events elsewhere in the world, e.g. negotiations with the Philippines, had shown the great difficulty with a long term U.S. commitment.4 Furthermore, changes in bases had already made the DCA outmoded. DepSec observed that the PriMin might possibly assess renegotiation as a negative factor, but he saw it as positive because of the opportunity it would afford the PriMin and the President to put their own stamp on U.S.-Turkey relations. DepSec said he wished to emphasize that the President was prepared to fight for the program that he had outlined and to accept the political risks in doing so.

6. PriMin Ecevit asked DepSec what he meant in his reference to bases. DepSec replied that some installations were no longer significant. Others might be better under joint operation. He could be more specific if necessary but his real point was that three years had passed and conditions had changed. He then asked Ambassador to comment on the installations.

7. Ambassador said that there were five significant bases covered under the DCA. One was about to be shut down. Two could perhaps be reopened and operated by Turks with American training and equipment. The other two could possibly be jointly operated. All of this could be reflected in new negotiations. DepSec said he was not prepared to conduct renegotiations on current trip. He would welcome Turkish thinking.

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8. DepSec said that he hoped for PriMin’s favorable reaction to President’s decision which administration would present to the Congress. There were risks involved and it should be understood that passage of the program would not be easy. The President though was anxious to overcome problems which existed in U.S.-Turkey relations.

9. PriMin said he understood that the President will ask the Congress for the lifting of the embargo and for 50 million dollars in credit but will not ask for approval of the DCA. PriMin then referred to his recent conversation with Senator Javits (Ankara 2249) and noted that Javits had advocated the opposite course, i.e., concentration on the DCA.5

10. DepSec replied that he had great respect for Senator Javits but President had reached a different conclusion. He believed that a billion dollar, four-year DCA could not succeed in the Congress. DepSec hoped he would have an opportunity to compare views with Senator Javits for whom he had great respect but he wished to stress that others, including the Vice President, differed with Senator Javits in their assessment of what program would succeed.

11. The PriMin replied that he just wanted to be clear. He added that it was not only Javits but a majority of the HIRC who had said that with unequivocal attitude on the part of the administration it would be possible to push the DCA through the Congress.

12. DepSec said that the President had looked at all possibilities but believes that the first thing to do was to remove the embargo and then turn to a new DCA. HIRC and President were agreed in that they both wanted to put Turkish-American relationships back on the track. The DCA might get through the committee but it could run into heavy weather on the floor. Of course reasonable men could differ on these views. The PriMin could be assured that the President was determined to make this program succeed.

13. PriMin replied that when he took over office, his impression was that the USG was concerned over his attitude on the DCA. We had come to understand that Carter administration wanted to see DCA implemented. Had there been, he inquired, a reassessment?

14. DepSec replied yes. The USG had in effect become persuaded of PriMin’s January view as expressed when Secretary visited Ankara. [Page 357]As administration officials now looked at DCA, they could see ways it could be improved, especially regarding the four-year term.

15. PriMin recalled that Secretary had mentioned four-year aspect but said he had told Secretary that two year agreement would be all right, if Turkey were compensated economically. He noted also that the GOG had not signed its DCA and he saw no evidence that they wished to sign. He asked if GOG continued a position of blocking the Turkish DCA, would the President persist (in pushing new Turkish DCA) even if Greeks did not sign. In short, would there still be a connection?

16. DepSec said USG would go ahead no matter what the Greeks did, but we could not go ahead with the present DCA. Nimetz interjected that SecVance had come to Turkey at the end of a trip to the Middle East primarily to listen to Turkish views. His remarks at that time had not been definitive USG views. On his return, Secretary had directed Department to engage in an intense review of Turkish-American relations which had now been completed.

17. PriMin asked if President would say openly that he would go ahead with a new Turkish DCA on its own legs regardless of what Greek attitude is. DepSec replied in the affirmative that the President would go ahead. Nimetz added that in preparation for the upcoming hearings, PriMin’s point would be taken into consideration. We would say during those hearings that a new DCA would be presented promptly.

18. Ambassador Spiers told PriMin that with the embargo gone, Greeks would be faced with a fundamentally different situation.

19. PriMin suggested break so that both principals could talk to these colleagues and suggested further meeting at 5:30 pm.6 DepSec asked about handling press and PriMin suggested that he tell reporters as he left that the group from Washington had come to tell the Turks about new policy decisions taken by the President. Technical details were continuing to be discussed and the talking had not ended.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Donated Material, Papers of Walter F. Mondale, Foreign Countries, Box 50, Foreign Countries—Greece, 1977–1978. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Sent for information Immediate to Athens; Priority to USNATO. Printed from a copy that indicates the original was received in the White House Situation Room.
  2. No record of this meeting was found. According to the President’s Daily Diary, the meeting took place in the Cabinet Room from 11:15 to 12:15 p.m. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials)
  3. See Document 107.
  4. The administration was also in the process of negotiating payment for U.S. use of military bases in the Philippines.
  5. The meeting between Javits and Ecevit took place on March 24. Javits told the Prime Minister that certain Congressmen, himself included, drew a distinction between overturning the arms embargo and passing the DCA. Javits, who emphasized his support for a strong Turkey, stated, “I can vote for the DCA—no trouble, but it would be hard even for me to reverse myself on the embargo.” (Telegram 2249 from Ankara, March 24; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780131–0503)
  6. The later conversation, described in telegram 2352 from Ankara, March 29, centered on how the U.S. and Turkish Governments would publicize their joint plans to move forward. (Carter Library, Donated Material, Papers of Walter F. Mondale, Foreign Countries, Box 50, Foreign Countries—Greece, 1977–1978) Christopher reported Ecevit’s Cyprus plan in telegram 5681 from Bonn, March 30. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P850104–2699) Ecevit’s policy was that he envisioned Cyprus as a bi-zonal, bi-communal, independent, and non-aligned nation. During an April 6 press conference, Ecevit publicized this policy, further expounding that he envisioned a future Turkish Cypriot entity as a federal state. (Telegram 2609 from Ankara, April 6; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780148–0948)