138. Telegram From the Embassy in Turkey to the Department of State1
3507. Department pass Munich for Nimetz/Ewing. Subject: (S) Meeting With Prime Minister Ecevit—SALT Verification—May 8 Session.
1. Summary—Deputy Secretary Christopher and Turkish Prime Minister Ecevit agreed on a draft oral note from US to Soviets (text below) regarding overflights of Turkey for SALT verification purposes. Christopher noted that text had not been seen by President and other senior U.S. officials. Ecevit after consulting with his colleagues modified the draft originally tabled by Christopher (text also below) to exclude implication that Turkey had already agreed to cooperate in overflight program. Ecevit said he would have to consult with other members of his government and party leaders and could not complete process until after May 20 when FonMin returns from trip abroad. End summary.[Page 422]
1. Deputy Secretary opened May 8 afternoon meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Ecevit by indicating there were two reasons why he had decided to remain in Ankara for an additional meeting with the Prime Minister—
A) He was not sure he had adequately conveyed the time pressures we were under. We were close to an announcement of an agreement in principle on SALT II. If we were to follow the approach suggested by Ecevit May 7, viz to seek Soviet acquiescence,2 the best time to do so would be within the relatively small window between the announcement of agreement in principle and the summit meeting at which the Treaty would be signed:
B) The Deputy Secretary said there also was a more substantive factor. If the US and Turkey were unable to reach agreement on a point of great importance related to the SALT process which in turn was important to President Carter and the Congress, this could have an adverse effect on the tone of our relationship for some time to come in the future. Speaking as a friend of Turkey, Christopher said he would like to avoid such shock waves and see if the U.S. and Turkey could not come closer on the overflight issue.
2. The Deputy Secretary said he had tried to develop an approach that took into account the PriMin’s letter to the President,3 the exchange of views on May 7 and our concern not to give the USSR veto power over what allies of the U.S. did on their own territory. In regard to latter concern, we took into account fact that the UK and FRG already played a verification role. Christopher said he had tried to meet Prime Minister Ecevit’s thought of not putting Turkey in jeopardy because of its geography, other relationships, and current problems. He had a draft for the Prime Minister’s consideration which had not been seen by the President or other senior USG officers.
3. Before looking at the draft, Prime Minister Ecevit responded strongly indicating that it was “unfortunate and disheartening” to have a new stumbling block introduced into our relations. “Turkey does not deserve such treatment.” It has been a trusting and trustworthy ally. Turkey showed this in reactivating the facilities without a new agreement or knowing what level of aid would be forthcoming. When the President and Christopher broached the subject of overflights, Ecevit said the GOT did not even think of using this as a bargaining point to secure additional aid. If Turkish cooperation with the Western world is beset at every point with stumbling blocks, Turkey’s sense of insecurity within the Alliance will only increase.[Page 423]
4. Christopher said it was not his style to engage in bargaining or trades or to make US attitude dependent on what Turkey does. Repeal of the embargo was initiated in this spirit. We were now talking of a bolder, nobler cause and the proposal he was making was not unreasonable. The reference to the effect of a turndown in US-Turkey relations was not a threat, only a comment reflecting realities. He was not attempting to coerce. He was confident the GOT would do what was right.
5. Christopher then tabled the following draft noting that operationally it was intended to serve as oral note to the Soviets.
Begin text of draft given to Ecevit:
1). The United States intends, subject to the approval of the Government of Turkey, to use overflights of the territory of Turkey as one of the means of verification recognized by the SALT II agreement.
2). Having in mind the provisions of SALT II as well as the existing verification practices of both sides, the United States expects that the Soviet Union will not interfere with or object to these overflights. Should there be any such interference or objection, it would have adverse repercussions with respect to ratification of SALT II and its subsequent implementation.
3). The United States has been informed by the Government of Turkey that it shares the belief of the United States and the Soviet Union that the SALT II agreement will contribute to improved East-West relations and to world peace. It is therefore prepared to cooperate in the effective implementation of SALT II by giving permission for such overflights on the basis set forth above.
End text of draft given to Ecevit.
6. Ecevit quickly read the draft and said he wanted to consult his colleagues (participants in the May 8 meeting were the same as May 7—Ankara 3487—with addition of POL Counselor on US side).4
7. After a twenty-minute consulting period, the Turkish side returned. Ecevit said his initial reaction was favorable. There was a problem with the last sentence which implied an agreement on the part of Turkey, and he proposed modification to delete this (revised text below). He could, however, undertake no commitment until he consulted the Council of Ministers, the National Security Council, party leaders, and possibly Parliament. FonMin Okcun would return to Turkey about May 20 and soon thereafter Ecevit said he could meet with the NSC, the Cabinet, and possibly party leaders.[Page 424]
8. Following is text as revised by Ecevit and accepted by Christopher—
Begin text of draft as modified by Ecevit—
1. Subject to the approval of the Government of Turkey which shares the relief of the United States and the Soviet Union that the SALT II agreement will contribute to improved East-West relations and to world peace, the United States intends to use overflights of the territory of Turkey as one of the means of verification recognized by the SALT II agreement.
2. Having in mind the provisions of SALT II, as well as the existing verification practices of both sides, the United States expects that the Soviet Union will not interfere with or object to these overflights. Should there be any such interference or objection, it would have adverse repercussions with respect to ratification of SALT II and its subsequent implementation.
End text of draft as modified by Ecevit.
9. Ecevit said that even before Christopher’s remarks implying linkage he had had the impression that we were dragging our feet on economic credits, bilateral aid, and on the new defense agreement. If this impression is confirmed, he will have to conclude that it is linked to a new element. That would tend to open an “incurable wound” with the U.S. and the West. Turkey’s already existing sense of insecurity in the Alliance would be further increased. Ecevit repeated that he had not thought to exploit the U.S. requests for overflights either bilaterally on defense aid issues or with OECD countries. This proposal goes beyond Alliance/defense relations to questions of world peace and the prevention of nuclear war and thus he did not think of using it as a bargaining, chip for asking for additional aid. If, however, the Turks perceived linkage in the mind of an ally, they would have to rethink their whole position if the government, the NSC, or public opinion gets the impression that bilateral and/or OECD aid is being delayed because of this element then there would be a reaction relating to all Turkey’s cooperation, including this aspect and it could cause deep disappointment on the part of all.
10. Christopher said this discussion demonstrates that in our effort to improve our relationship and cooperate together we must be sensitive to each other and the way things are understood in the other country. We are concerned not to jar the relationship and will continue to be sensitive. The U.S. course will be constructive in character. We are determined to press our effort to help Turkey as fast as possible. Christopher said he was returning to Washington with several high agenda items.
a) We want to get congressional approval of the full economic assistance program—we will press FRG to match—we will seek commensurate amounts from others.[Page 425]
b) Christopher said he intended to see if MAP could be restored in the Senate. This was both of real and symbolic value.
c) Christopher said he had met that morning with JUSMMAT Chief General Thompson and his Deputy.5 He promised to look into military issues further on his return to Washington.
d) Christopher said he would recommend to the President and Secretary Vance that assistance to Turkey be a priority agenda item with the new UK Government at the first US–UK meeting.
11. The rest of the discussion covered various military issues and the line Ecevit would take with the press (septels).6
12. Foregoing was not cleared by Deputy Secretary prior to his departure from Ankara.
- Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 75, Turkey: 4–8/79. Secret; Niact Immediate; Nodis. Printed from a copy that indicates the original was received in the White House Situation Room. Henze forwarded the telegram to Brzezinski with a May 9 memorandum commenting on the Christopher mission: “It is primarily on the basis of this cable that I conclude that the talks did not really go very well. Our problems with Ecevit and the Turkish government are at least as great as I have been emphasizing all along. And the rather flaccid optimism we have been getting from State on these issues is hard to maintain.” (Ibid.)↩
- Telegram 3487 from Ankara, May 8, reported on Christopher’s meeting with Ecevit on May 7. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790169–1247)↩
- See Document 135.↩
- Telegram 3487 from Ankara, identified the Turkish participants: Deputy Prime Minister Cetin, Defense Minister Akmandor, MFA Secretary General Elekdağ, MFA officials Şahinbaş, Ali Hikmet Alp, and Yarim Eralp, and Lieutenant General H. Celenkler, TGS. See footnote 2 above.↩
- No record of the meeting was found.↩
- The telegram referring to “various military issues” was not found. The telegram reporting on how Ecevit would deal with the press is telegram 3505 from Ankara, May 8. In the telegram, the Embassy noted that Christopher and Ecevit agreed: 1) on the importance of preventing leaks to the press regarding the overflight issue; 2) that the talks produced positive developments on defense cooperation between the United States and Turkey; 3) that the United States would use its influence to support Turkey in the OECD; 4) that both the United States and Turkey expressed hope on progress over the Cyprus dispute; and 5) that Ecevit would make no mention of the issue of Greek reintegration into NATO. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840156–1495)↩