147. Action Memorandum From the Counselor of the Department of State (Nimetz) to Secretary of State Vance1


  • Defense Negotiations with Turkey

Foreign Minister Erkmen has now responded positively to your offer to send me to Ankara to try to finish the defense negotiations. I will be meeting with him and his associates January 6–9.2 We have made it clear that this visit is to help the Turks get over their self-imposed deadline of January 9; that accepting my mission carries with it the obligation to achieve some form of initialed agreement as a result of the talks.3 The Turks have reiterated that they must have hard information on our assistance plans for FY–81, as well as some indication of how we plan to respond to their request for a letter from President Carter to Prime Minister Demirel on the commitment of the United States Administration to support Turkey in the future.

I understand that the President has now given us a FY–81 mark of $452 million for Turkey ($250 million FMS, $200 million ESF, $2 million IMET). As you promised Erkmen, I will give this information to him on a confidential basis.4 We have made it clear to the White House and to OMB that we would have to do this before publication of the budget in order to assure a successful completion of the negotiations.

The second major question is the Presidential letter. What we have in mind is a hortatory letter, emphasizing the importance we place on the relationship and our intention to be as helpful as we can in helping to meet their needs.5 I will not show them a draft but want to be in a position to tell them that we expect to have an appropriate Presidential letter available for delivery to the Prime Minister when the agreement [Page 449] actually is signed; hopefully, in the near future. The Defense Agreement is an executive agreement which pledges only “best efforts” to secure needed economic and military assistance for Turkey. The letter would constitute the President’s personal recognition of his responsibility to make such an effort and will allow the GOT to fall off their position that they must have a specific pledge of money or equipment. Neither OMB nor the NSC staff have indicated concern about our wish to have such a letter as long as it does not contain any specific dollar commitment.

To assure the best atmosphere for the talks, I will need to be in a position to tell the Turks that we will be disbursing part of our FY–80 ESF and that we are prepared to negotiate an agreement allowing them to place orders for $200 million in FY–80 FMS.6 I will point out that we are making this effort under the Continuing Resolution even though the Congressional Conference Committee on Appropriations has not yet acted on the FY–80 Foreign Assistance Appropriations Bill.

There will be two main contentious issues in the negotiation:

(1) The Turks want to complete the entire agreement, including all annexes before signing or initialing any of its parts. This will be almost impossible because of the sheer volume of documents, and also because a number of the technical annexes contain points of difference which we probably will not be able to resolve during my visit.

(2) The second issue is one of substance. The Turks will hold very strongly that the foundation agreement should specifically preclude any use of the facilities by American forces except for narrowly-defined NATO purposes.7 We want as much flexibility as possible in potential use of the bases, even though we recognize that no activities would be possible without the complete consent of the Turks. Finding an appropriate compromise on this point will probably be the major challenge of my visit.

My goal in the January 6–9 talks is to initial a foundation agreement and, if possible, three supplemental agreements (defense support, defense industrial cooperation, and installations). These agreements would then be referred back to governments for early review, so that the Turks could feel that a signing ceremony might take place within a reasonable period.

[Page 450]


That you approve these guidelines for my negotiations.8

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P7901290–1772. Confidential. Drafted by Dillery; concurred in by Holmes. A stamped notation at the bottom of the first page reads “CV,” indicating that Vance saw the memorandum.
  2. Vance underlined “January 6–9.”
  3. Vance underlined the second half of this sentence. On October 8, 1979, Prime Minister Ecevit had announced that the United States could resume operating its bases in Turkey for 3 months, or until January 1980, while negotiations on their status continue. (“Turkey to Extend Status Of U.S. Bases for 3 Months,” The New York Times, October 9, 1979, p. A11)
  4. Vance underlined the sentence and wrote “ok” in the margin.
  5. Vance underlined the sentence.
  6. Vance wrote “ok” in the margin.
  7. Vance underlined the two previous sentences.
  8. Vance checked the “Approve” option and January 3 is stamped below. The negotiations to finalize the Defense Cooperation Agreement began when Nimetz met Erkmen in Ankara on January 5. Nimetz noted that that the Foreign Assistance Appropriations bill for FY 1980 was still in Congress but that the administration was moving ahead to make funds available while it waited for its passage. On a confidential basis, Nimetz provided the details of the administration’s FY 1981 request to Congress as it related to aid for Turkey: $250 million in FMS, $2 million in military training and education, and $200 million in economic support. Nimetz also reported that Carter would send a letter when the Defense Cooperation Agreement was signed, which would affirm the U.S. commitment to modernizing Turkey’s armed forces. (Telegram 120 from Ankara, January 7; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800011–1153) For the text of Carter’s letter, see Document 148. The Defense Cooperation Agreement between the United States and Turkey was initialed in Ankara on January 10. Its most salient features were: all military bases in Turkey were considered Turkish facilities managed by Turkish commanders; utilization of the bases required final authorization by Turkish authorities; and the agreement was valid for five years and renewable on an annual basis thereafter. (Telegram 282 from Ankara, January 10; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800017–0947)