121. Editorial Note

Following several months of lobbying by White House, Department of State, and Department of Defense officials, Congress agreed to overturn the arms embargo against Turkey. The Senate voted 57–42 to lift the embargo on July 25, 1978. The vote also approved $2.8 billion in foreign arms sales to Turkey, and it included a requirement that the President issue a report every two months to Congress on the status of the Cyprus negotiations. This requirement, introduced by Senators Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) and George McGovern (D-South Dakota), also stipulated that U.S. arms would be used “solely for defensive purposes” to enable both Turkey and Greece to fulfill their NATO obligations. (Graham Hovey, “Senate Acts to Lift Arms Ban on Turks, But Adds Warning,” The New York Times, July 26, 1978, page 19) Later that day, the Department of State issued a statement commending the Senate vote: “The lifting of the embargo will allow the United States to proceed in an atmosphere of renewed trust to work toward the strengthening of our relations with the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean. The Administration will continue to exert every effort to help bring about a just and lasting Cyprus solution, and to help achieve peaceful solutions to problems in that region. The lifting of the embargo will help promote the achievement of these important policy goals.” The White House also issued a statement. (Department of State Bulletin, September 1978, page 34)

On August 1, the House voted to overturn the embargo with a narrower vote of 208–205 after Jim Wright, the Majority Leader (D-Texas), introduced an amendment that the President could end the embargo after certification that cooperation with Turkey was in the national interest and that Turkey was acting in good faith to settle the Cyprus dispute. President Carter issued a statement the same day welcoming the vote. (Public Papers: Carter, 1978, Book II, pages 1357–1358)

On August 2, President Carter and Turkish Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit exchanged letters that affirmed each leader’s commitment to re[Page 381]invigorated relations between their countries. The letters are in the 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.

The House–Senate conference committee reached agreement on August 14 finalizing the legislation, paving the way for the repeal of the embargo on September 26. President Carter’s statement on signing the legislation into law and Presidential Determination No. 78–18, “United States–Turkey Military Cooperation,“ both September 26, certifying that the resumption of full military cooperation with Turkey was in U.S. and NATO interests and that Turkey was acting in good faith to resolve the Cyprus dispute are in Public Papers: Carter, 1978, Book II, page 1636.