124. Action Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Vest) to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Newsom)1

Circular 175 Procedure—Request for Authorization to Negotiate with the Government of Turkey a New Agreement to Govern the Operations of United States Defense Installations in Turkey

Issues for Decision

This memorandum requests authorization pursuant to the Circular 175 Procedure (11 FAM 700) to negotiate an agreement on the above subject. The issues for decision are whether negotiations should proceed and, if so, what position should be taken by the U.S. Negotiators.

Essential Factors

In July 1975, the Government of Turkey unilaterally announced the termination of the 1969 Defense Cooperation Agreement which had governed the operation of U.S. military facilities in Turkey. It also suspended primary mission operations at those facilities which were not in direct support of NATO defense activities. The GOT claimed that these actions were justified by the arms embargo imposed pursuant to U.S. law in February 1975.

A new defense cooperation agreement was signed on March 26, 1976. This agreement was intended to permit resumption of suspended U.S. operations and end the embargo. However, its entry into force was expressly subject to the enactment of implementing legislation because the agreement obliged the USG to provide specified amounts of military assistance as well as foreign military sales and FMS financing over a four year period, all of which were then prohibited by the statutory embargo.

Implementing legislation was submitted to Congress in June 1976, but Congress did not act on it and maintained the embargo in force until September 1978. The present Administration did not press for enactment of the multiyear military assistance and FMS credit package. [Page 389] Early in 1978, after consultation with the Turkish Government, the Administration decided that the 1976 agreement should not be used as a basis for seeking a lifting of the embargo. Instead, it was decided that a new defense agreement should be negotiated after the embargo had been lifted.

Section 13(a) of the International Security Assistance Act of 1978 (P.L. 95–384, approved September 26, 1978) authorized the President to make a determination which would cause the embargo legislation to cease to have any force and effect. The determination was signed on September 26, and transmitted to the Congress. In response, on October 4, the Government of Turkey issued a decree authorizing the resumption of suspended U.S. operations for a transitional period of one year starting on October 9. The decree specified interim conditions for operations at all installations, pending the negotiation and entry into force of a new agreement. (An exception is the major installation at Karamursel, which we had already decided to close for our own reasons.)

We have agreed with the Government of Turkey that negotiations should begin in November. Early negotiations seem advantageous from our standpoint because a very cooperative atmosphere in Turkey prevails now that the embargo has ended. Moreover, a new agreement is needed to remove restrictions still imposed on our operations. The U.S. team would be led by Ambassador Spiers, and the Embassy staff would be supported by policy and legal experts from State and Defense. U.S. Negotiators would take the following positions:

—The agreement should be confined, to the extent possible, to matters related to U.S. military activities in Turkey. While we will, of course need to support Turkey’s NATO role through economic and security assistance, it is our intention to make no commitments in this area and to keep the agreement on military facilities separate and distinct from discussions on these broad areas of defense cooperation. (We expect the Turkish Government to press for a closer connection than we consider desirable between U.S. military activities and questions of assistance.)

—The agreement, while providing the fundamental guarantees desired by both sides, should be as broad as possible in its language, relying on mutual good will and a process of pragmatic resolution of specific problems rather than setting forth a complex set of detailed operating rules.

U.S. positions on specific issues will be consistent with essential requirements and will take into account agreements reached or to be negotiated on facilities elsewhere.

Negotiations on the new agreement will proceed in close consultation with Department of Defense and other concerned agencies. When [Page 390] a text is agreed ad referendum by the negotiators separate authorization will be sought for its signature.

We do not anticipate the inclusion in the Agreement of any provisions which will require the enactment of implementing legislation. Since the Agreement will be in furtherance of the North Atlantic Treaty, an executive agreement would seem appropriate. A Memorandum of Law is attached. However, we will consult with the relevant committees of the House and Senate and interested members of the Congress concerning both the form and content of the Agreement prior to the commencement of negotiations and as they proceed.

The circumstances of these negotiations, which will involve classified drafts and documentation on both sides, will preclude the opportunity for public comment in advance of conclusion of an agreed text and a decision on its classification. Every effort will be made to produce an unclassified agreement, with any necessarily classified subjects dealt with in separate annexes.


That you authorize Ambassador Spiers or his designee, with support personnel from Washington as needed and under the general supervision of Counselor Nimetz, to negotiate a new agreement ad referendum on the conduct of U.S. military activities in Turkey, subject to concurrence of L, EUR, PM, INR, DCI, and DOD.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Office of the Legal Adviser, Country Files (1940–1986), Lot 89D336, Box 2, Turkey: DCA (ML). Confidential. The memorandum was sent through Nimetz. Drafted by George T. Churchill (PM/ISO) on November 2; cleared by Colonel Majors (OSD/ISA), Thomas G. Weston (H), Peter B. Swiers (EUR/RPM), Ted A. Borek (L/PM), James M. Flanagan (EUR/SE), Henze, Hopper, and Richard E. Curl (INR). Attached but not printed is the October 27 Memorandum of Law to commence base negotiations with Turkey.
  2. Newsom approved the recommendation; November 7 is date-stamped below.