125. Message From the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (Haig) to Secretary of State Vance1

SHP 3796. From Gen Haig, SACEUR, SHAPE, Belgium.

1. During the Secretary General’s regular luncheon with the Chairman of the Military Committee, Mumford and the major NATO [Page 391] commanders, Luns summarized his impressions of his recent visit to Ankara and discussions with the Turkish Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Defense Minister, and the Chief of the Turkish General Staff. Luns emphasized that he was extremely well received in Ankara and that there were absolutely no reproaches to NATO officials or the Alliance at any time during the visit. In general, he categorized Prime Minister Ecevit as the most flexible Turkish official with whom he met and Defense Minister Isik the most negative with the Foreign Minister only somewhat less constructive than the Prime Minister. He noted that he had framed his visit to Ankara around a liaison visit to CENTO in order to assuage Greek concerns but subsequently was informed that the Greeks were delighted that he had visited Ankara. Luns described the multiple sessions with the Turkish officials as arduous but of great value in that it was clear that the Turks are now reassured of NATO interest in their plight. In outlining the circumstances which led to his visit, the Secretary General noted that as Secretary General of NATO it was incumbent upon him to attempt to work the problem of Greek reintegration just as he had earlier worked the problem surrounding the Icelandic fisheries dispute.2 He noted that in this regard he may have bruised American feelings since clearly they had an initiative of their own underway. He drew this conclusion both from the fact that U.S. NATO Ambassador Bennett had delicately but effectively urged him not to enter into details on Greek reentry while in Ankara. After his arrival in Ankara, his discussions with Ambassador Spiers confirmed American sensitivity and, as he had assured Ambassador Bennett, he provided Spiers an outline of the proposals he would make to the Turkish side, emphasizing that they were not firm proposals but merely “venting” points for subsequent consideration by the Turkish side.

2. In describing his proposals Luns made it clear that he had emphasized to the Turks that there were absolutely no links between the Turkish economic plight and the existing political issues between Greece and Turkey, including Cyprus and Aegean command issues. He stated that the Turks were delighted with this clarification and complained that in recent discissions with the Canadians, Canada had emphasized the linkage between help for Turkey economically and progress on Cyprus. Luns also stated that during the economic discussions the Turks complained bitterly about the IMF’s rigidity while praising World Bank President McNamara’s forthcoming response to Turkey’s economic needs. The Turks apparently are also concerned [Page 392] about the recent FRG ruling which reduced support for the children of Turkish guest workers by 50 percent, a step which has resulted in 450,000 Turkish dependents entering the Federal Republic to join their sponsors. The Secretary General noted that these young people were neither “fish nor fowl” and could easily become tomorrow’s revolutionaries.

3. Luns then described his military reintegration proposals in considerably less detail than he had given them to Ambassador Spiers, noting that they consisted of four basic steps. Before listing these, Luns stated that he had formulated the proposals as a result of studying papers associated with the Haig-Davos discussions and deliberations of the Military Committee.3 Luns noted that he had prepared the proposal in conjunction with Deputy Secretary General Petrignani and mentioned having the approval of several Ministers. He also referred to his authority provided under the provisions of the watching brief agreed upon several years ago. In discussing his four steps, Luns advised the Turks that the proposal should be reviewed in the context of a clearly delineated disclaimer clause which would emphasize that no juridical consequences would result from the interim command arrangements. He also emphasized that his proposals were designed to permit an early reentry for Greece and their acceptance might also involve an obligation to convene a special group, perhaps under the DPC or a group of nations, which would seek to work with both sides in arriving at more permanent arrangements. The four proposals as described by Luns were:

One: procedures for the return to normal air traffic over the Aegean.

Two: Provision for cross tell from existing radar sites.

Three: An “ambiguous” sentence establishing the principle of the task force naval command system to be effected when ships were assigned to NATO (Luns commented that this proposal really constituted no change in day-to-day command arrangements).

Four: A proposal that SACEUR work out command arrangements and boundaries to be applied in time of war.

4. Apparently the Turkish side remained essentially negative on the reintegration steps throughout the visit, and Prime Minister Ecevit clearly rejected them on Saturday afternoon during his final meeting with the Secretary General. Luns stated that the Prime Minister termed them unacceptable from the Turkish point of view but, as a consequence of the Secretary General’s urgings, agreed to attempt to undertake talks with Prime Minister Karamanlis before making an official [Page 393] and categorical rejection. Ecevit apparently agreed to this additional step and Luns plans to talk with the Greek side about such a meeting between the Prime Ministers, sometime this week.

5. The remainder of the Secretary General’s briefing touched upon his assessment of Turkey’s grave economic outlook which is clearly foremost in his mind. He noted that it is evident that Turkey has become increasingly reliant on economic and trade relations with the Soviet Union which appears to be more willing than NATO nations to meet Turkey’s needs. He noted that Ecevit described the current situation as the gravest ever faced by a democratic Turkey. Although there were absolutely no hints of a Turkish realignment or withdrawal from NATO, in private discussions this was hinted at to the Secretary General by responsible Turkish officials. Luns stated that in his view it was ludicrous that Western nations provide such vast resources to third world nations of far less importance to Western security and dramatized his own fears that recent internal difficulties in Turkey, with a growing terrorist threat and near economic collapse, could result in a military takeover with the ultimate loss of Turkey to the West. The Secretary General stated that he would prepare a paper for the North Atlantic Council on this situation and remarked that the key to Turkey’s future clearly rested in American hands.

6. Warm regards, Al.

SSO note: Deliver during duty hours.

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–81–0202, Box 69, Turkey 1978. Secret; Eyes Only. Sent for information to JCS for Secretary Brown and General Jones; to [text not declassified] Ankara, [text not declassified] Athens, and [text not declassified] Belgium for the Ambassadors; and to USEUCOM for General Huyser (UNCINCEUR) and JLO Naples for Admiral Shear (USDOCOSouth).
  2. Reference is to the third “Cod War” in 1975 between Iceland and the United Kingdom over the size of territorial rights to fishing areas. Luns mediated a dispute between the two countries, which culminated in an agreement on fishing rights reached in June 1976.
  3. See footnote 3, Document 184.