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114. Letter From Turkish Prime Minister Ecevit to President Carter 1

Dear Mr. President,

Your message of May 11 reached me during my visit to Bonn.2

I studied the draft declaration proposed for the forthcoming NATO summit meeting carefully, and found the tone rather strong and challenging and I thought that it might provoke many states to harden their positions, thus resulting in a speeding up of the armaments race. Many of us will be speaking in the special sessions for disarmament of the United Nations right before or right after the NATO meeting in Washington and I feel that the proposed declaration would sound rather out of tune with the way I personally would be inclined to speak in that important United Nations meeting.

In view of the limitations imposed on her possibilities of maintaining her military strength, Turkey cannot afford to be provocative towards her neighbors.

We attach great value to detente in principle. Besides, under the circumstances that Turkey presently finds herself in, she has a stake in detente to which she must make her own contribution in her own way and by keeping in view her own possibilities and limitations.

My Government cannot therefore, subscribe to a declaration which, in our view, impairs detente although I am sure, this is not your intention either.3

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Looking forward to seeing you in Washington soon Mr. President, I remain, with highest regards,

Sincerely yours,
Bulent Ecevit 4
  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 50, Turkey: 1978. Secret. The letter is attached as Tab A to an undated covering memorandum from Brzezinski to Carter. Brzezinski wrote, “This is clearly [Ecevit’s] response to the vote in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the embargo; that he is prepared to play the “Soviet Card” in a limited way at UNSSOD and the NATO Summit.” The SFRC voted 8–4 against lifting the embargo on May 11, following a vote on May 3 in the HIRC 18–17 to lift the embargo. The Department reported the SFRC vote in telegram 121040 to Ankara, May 12. (Department of State, Office of the Legal Adviser, Country Files (1940–1986), Lot 89D336, Box 4, Turkey 620 (x) Repeal) The Embassy reported the HIRC vote in telegram 3457 from Ankara, May 5. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780221–0457)
  2. Ecevit’s May 11 message called attention to the Soviet threat in two points: 1) “The military threat to the Alliance posed by the Warsaw Pact states continues to grow, out of proportion to any legitimate needs for security;” and 2) “the growth of Soviet power and its projection in places outside the Alliance area, both directly and through allies, complicate the search for peace and our ability to sustain support among our peoples for detente.” (Telegram 119887 to all NATO capitals, May 11; Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, President’s Correspondence with Foreign Leaders File, Box 19, Turkey: Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, 3/78–5/79)
  3. Carter replied to Ecevit on May 19, assuring the Prime Minister that he remained committed to doing everything he could to revitalize the U.S.-Turkey relationship. (Telegram 127594 to Ankara, May 19; Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Cables File, State Department Out, Box 112, 5/1–12/78)
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.