123. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Turkey1

248372. Exdis; USOECD; military addressees handle as Specat Exclusive. Subject: Meeting Between Secretary Vance and Turkish Foreign Minister Okcun, New York, September 27.

1. Summary: Turkish Foreign Minister Okcun met with Secretary Vance at latter’s suite at U.N. Plaza Hotel, New York, September 27 for approximately forty-five minutes. Subjects covered included Turkish economic situation, Turkish-Greek relations, Cyprus, and US-Turkey defense cooperation. Other subjects briefly discussed (reported septels) were US-Turkey prisoner transfer treaty negotiations and exchange of information relating to terrorist activity.2 Okcun was accompanied by Turkish Ambassador Esenbel, Secretary General Elekdag, MFA Director General for Multilateral Political Affairs Arim, and Ministry Special Assistant Oymen. Also present on U.S. side were Counselor Nimetz, Assistant Secretary Vest, and EUR/SE Director Ewing. Nimetz, Vest, and Ewing had lunch Sept. 27 with Elekdag and Esenbel. Luncheon conversation for most part covered same ground [garble] to extent additional points were covered, they are reported in this message. End summary.

2. The Secretary told Okcun he had been pleased to hear that Prime Minister Ecevit had made statement earlier Sept. 27 relating to reopening of U.S. defense installations in Turkey.3 That step would be important indication of mutual confidence which [garble—he] felt existed between Prime Minister and President Carter. Foreign Minister agreed that reopening of facilities was an important aspect of the new chapter [Page 384] in US-Turkey relations which followed lifting of the U.S. embargo on Turkey.

3. Secretary Vance said we were pleased that Turkey and the IMF had reached an agreement on the second drawing under the Standby Agreement. We were fully supportive of Turkish efforts to overcome its economic problems. The Secretary said that the U.S. could not provide economic assistance of the magnitude needed by Turkey and he believed that the most effective way was to obtain such funds from private international financial markets. He then asked how Turkish efforts to acquire new credits from the private banks were progressing. Okcun said that the GOT wanted to put US-Turkish relations into a broader framework which would not emphasize only the defense relationship. There were other ways and means to expand US-Turkish cooperation. He hoped USG would continue to encourage private banks and would also reactivate Export-Import Bank lending to Turkey. The Secretary said the USG has no control over private bank decisions, although Under Secretary Cooper and others would continue in their contacts with these banks to describe the general state of US-Turkey relationship in the post-embargo period.

4. In response to Okcun’s question whether a “program of action” could be prepared relating to ExIm Bank activity in Turkey, the Secretary said this would have to be discussed with the Bank, which through its board and senior staff would have to decide whether new lending to Turkey was appropriate at this juncture. Nimetz noted that with apparent resolution of Turkey’s problems with IMF, rescheduling of official debt, and progress on working out arrangements with private banks, XMB was already reviewing what if anything could now be done. We would continue to discuss these matters with XMB for the next few weeks to see what could be done with regard to Turkey. In response to question, Secretary said that if GOT wished to forward a proposal, we and the XMB would be glad to examine it.

5. Following a discussion of the prisoner transfer treaty negotiations (septel), and in response to a question from Okcun, the Secretary said we were in the process of putting together the administration’s FY 1980 budget request. Final assistance figures are not yet available, but Prime Minister Ecevit should not be concerned that the aggregate assistance level for Turkey would cause him any embarrassment. The Secretary stressed that he could not give a figure and that the budget process was not yet completed. At this point—approaching final determination—the program for Turkey looked satisfactory and would probably include FMS credits, MAP, IMET, and economic supporting assistance.

6. Elekdag referred to the 1976 DCA supplementary list and urged that the USG make this equipment available for sale at the lowest avail[Page 385]able price, preferably a nominal price, to take account of Turkey’s difficult short-term balance of payments problem as well as its defense needs. Nimetz said that DOD was ready to receive a Turkish military team to review Turkish requirements. Some of the 1976 equipment was no longer available, but we were prepared to give the lowest possible prices consistent with our overall policies. We also indicated that MAP materiel pipeline items would be shipped expeditiously, some by air. The Turks could send a military team to Washington as soon as they were ready, even during the week of October 2.

7. Okcun referred to the conversation in June between Prime Minister Ecevit and Secretary Brown in Washington,4 and hoped that work could go forward to see what could be done in the defense co-production area. Nimetz said that in the last few days we had made a proposal to send a team to Ankara to see what might be possible, and that their visit could take place in the coming weeks.

8. Reverting to Turkey’s financial situation, and re-responding to the Secretary’s question, Okcun said that Finance Minister Muezzinoglu was meeting in Washington Sept. 27 with representatives of the seven large banks concerning both debt rescheduling and, hopefully, fresh credits in the range of $500 million. Turkey faced acute problems over the next ninety days which presented political risks to the Prime Minister. Fresh credits from abroad were therefore essential. He hoped that USG support in this regard would be forthcoming. The Secretary reiterated that Under Secretary Cooper would keep in touch with the banks as he had indicated he would do.

9. Okcun asked for U.S. support to make the OECD consortium for Turkey more active, particularly in exploring external financing possibilities for Turkey’s fourth five-year plan, which was still under preparation for presentation later to the National Assembly.5 The Secretary said he was not familiar with the status of our thinking on the consortium, but we would take note of Turkish interest in a more active consortium role. Subsequently at lunch, Elekdag and Esenbel said they recognized that the USG could pledge at a consortium meeting only what we would do in any event, but thought that the consortium might be an effective way to encourage greater interest in Turkey’s economic problems on the part of the other OECD member countries.

10. In response to the Secretary’s repeated assurance of U.S. support for GOT efforts to strengthen Turkey’s economy and his offer to study carefully specific ways we might be able to demonstrate that support, Okcun asked whether the USG could consider using its good of[Page 386]fices with Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to encourage them to consider greater interest in Turkey’s economic development.

11. Elekdag referred to the many US-Turkish conversations in 1978, and noted that he would be returning to Ankara for the October 2 National Security Council meeting. Ecevit would be taking serious political risks to reactivate immediately U.S. installations unless he had a clear idea of what could be expected from the U.S. in 1980. He noted that the Secretary had indicated that the level of proposed assistance would not cause Ecevit embarrassment. Could he also tell the Prime Minister on his return that it was expected that the assistance level would be adequate to Turkey’s needs? The Secretary replied that he could so indicate, but we could not be in a position of talking about precise figures at this stage, except to indicate that we anticipated a level which would represent a material advance over the level provided for in the 1976 DCA.

12. In response to a question from Okcun, Nimetz and Vest confirmed that the U.S. was prepared in principle to work out the modalities to have Kargaburun and Belbasi transferred to Turkish operation. We were waiting to hear further from the GOT. Elekdag stressed that all of the facilities would be reopened, but that discussion concerning the future of these two installations should occur shortly.

13. With regard to Turkish-Greek relations, Okcun said that there was concern in Ankara that the repeated reiteration over the last several months of the “Kissinger formulation” relating to the Aegean had encouraged the Greek Government to slow down discussion of Aegean issues with the GOT.6 He hoped U.S. would not encourage negative Greek attitude, which could lead to a dragging out of the talks. The Secretary said that in our view goodwill and a serious effort was required from both Turkey and Greece and we certainly supported the objective of their resolving their differences.

14. With respect to Cyprus, Okcun hoped the U.S. would encourage others to have the UNGA adopt a “mild resolution” on the Cyprus question, which would call for a resumption of intercommunal talks. The Secretary said he would be talking with Greek Foreign Minister Rallis and the Greek Cypriots, and would encourage them as well as the Turkish side to try to find a way to push forward with the negoti[Page 387]ating process.7 With regard to the Cyprus UNGA resolution question, we would examine the matter with the greatest of care. Okcun said he hoped we could encourage UNSYG Waldheim to call for talks. The Secretary said he would be talking further with Waldheim and would encourage him to continue efforts to find a way to resume the negotiating process. We would also continue to make clear to both the GOC and GOG our hope that a way would be found to resume talks.

15. After a brief discussion of terrorism (septel), Elekdag described his recent talks in Athens with Greek Secretary General Theodoropoulos.8 He stressed that a key issue at present was the Greek refusal to discuss the claimed 10 nautical mile territorial air space around the Greek islands. He expressed fear that the Greeks had espoused a policy of evading fundamental issues. The GOT would continue the dialogue, however, and hoped that progress could be made. At lunch, Elekdag gave a detailed description of the Turkish position on the air space question along the same general lines provided earlier to Embassy Ankara.

16. At the close of the meeting, Okcun said that improved Turkish-US relations were even more important than Turkish-Greek relations. He thought that with continued confidence on both sides, a new chapter in cooperation was possible. The Secretary agreed that we share that objective and want to do all we can to achieve it.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780398–0284. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Ewing; cleared by Hopper, Arthur Houghton (S), and Thomas Reynders (S/S–O); approved by Vest. Sent for information Priority to Athens, Nicosia, USUN, USNATO, London, Paris, USNMR SHAPE, USDOCOSouth Naples, and USDELMC. Ökçün and Vance were in New York to attend the UN General Assembly meeting.
  2. The Department described the discussion on attempts to reach a prisoner transfer treaty between the United States and Turkey in telegram 247759 to Ankara, September 29. In telegram 249586 to Ankara, September 30, the Department reported that Ökçün expressed his hope that the U.S. and Turkish security services would be able to exchange information relating to threats against Turkish diplomatic personnel. Vance pledged U.S. cooperation. Both telegrams are in the National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780397–0095 and D780400–1144.
  3. In telegram 6909 from Ankara, September 27, the Embassy reported that Ecevit made this statement a day after the U.S. arms embargo was lifted. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780394–1202)
  4. See Document 118.
  5. The OECD Consortium to Aid Turkey was established in 1962.
  6. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XXX, Greece; Cyprus; Turkey, 1973–1976, Documents 67, 245, and 246. Kissinger and Bitsios and then Kissinger and Çağlayangil discussed at length the Greek-Turkish dispute over Aegean territorial rights. Çağlayangil called for the Aegean to be split down the middle and divided evenly between Greece and Turkey, with special negotiations to take place over Aegean islands and areas suitable for joint exploration of natural resources.
  7. See Document 181.
  8. See footnote 2 above.