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

251392. Subject: (C) U.S. Relations With Turkey.

1. (C-entire text).

2. Since the military takeover September 12 we have taken a series of actions to reassure Turkey of the continued commitment of the U.S. In doing so, we have recognized the need to give the new Turkish authorities time to organize themselves for the difficult tasks they face. It [Page 474] is important that they appreciate what we have done already and understand our needs and requirements if we are to continue to be in a position to be helpful. I leave to you the selection of the person or persons you think most appropriate to receive our general views along the following lines.

3. The first United States official statement, issued only hours after the takeover, was carefully couched in understanding tones.2 It explicitly recognized the grave economic and political difficulties under which Turkey has labored for the last several years and, by inference, recognized them as the causes of the military action.

We affirmed in our statement that U.S. assistance to Turkey will continue. Further, we immediately shared the statement with all NATO and OECD capitals to ensure that Turkey’s allies and friends clearly understood our position. We are convinced that this quick action muted possible adverse public reactions in some capitals. None of the official statements of the other allies have, for example, any expression of conditionality with respect to future assistance. The U.S. also worked hard in NATO to ensure that the NATO exercise “Anvil Express” was not cancelled and we supported the Turkish position with regard to the meeting of the Military Committee in Turkey.3

4. We took all of these actions rapidly, with no equivocation and without preconditions. We have not however hidden in any way our general concerns about seizure of power from a democratically-elected government. We are encouraged by the fact that the takeover was accomplished without violence and we have noted General Evren’s statements emphasizing the primary goal of the restoration of a viable democratic government. We have also noted his occasional reference to protection of human rights. Statements by the military authorities supporting the Demirel/Ozal economic stabilization program were well received here. The free publication of the Turkish press and early free [Page 475] access to Turkey by international correspondents were also welcome. Finally, it is clear that there is widespread popular support in Turkey for many of the actions taken by the Turkish military.

5. We have recognized the seriousness of the situation that has faced Turkey for some time as inter alia our assistance programs give testimony. The military takeover has not changed Turkey’s needs nor its importance. But we will need the help of the Turkish authorities if we are to be successful in obtaining widespread approval in the United States for a close relationship and continued assistance programs, as well as assistance from NATO and OECD countries.

6. Specifically, we believe the likelihood of maintaining support for our current policies in the Congress and U.S. public opinion will be enhanced if the Turkish military authorities would:

—outline a timetable, including specific actions phased over time, that will lead to the early restoration of democracy in Turkey.

—release from custody those political leaders and others against whom there is no criminal charge and reaffirm commitment to due process of law for those who are detained.

—work with General Rogers so that the reintegration of Greek armed forces into the NATO military structure is accomplished soon, in the next few weeks if possible.

—give evidence of support for and flexibility in the resumed Cyprus intercommunal talks.

7. Although we regret the suspension of democratic institutions in Turkey, the U.S. commitment to Turkey remains. We intend to ask Congress to authorize and appropriate levels of assistance for FY 82 consistent with our “best efforts” pledge. Under present conditions, we anticipate that our security cooperation will continue unchanged.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P870143–1398. Confidential; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Richard A. Smith, Jr. (EUR/SE); cleared by Dillery, Ewing, Nimetz, Raymond G. Seitz (S/S), and D.A. Sand (S/S–O); approved by Christopher. Sent for information Immediate to Bonn.
  2. The statement issued on September 12 is printed in the Department of State Bulletin, November 1980, p. 50. A copy is attached to a September 17 memorandum from Holmes to Christopher. The statement noted that the takeover produced no bloodshed, expressed general concern any time there is a “seizure of power from any democratically-elected government,” pledged continuing support for Turkey, and a looked forward to “the early restoration of democracy in Turkey.” In the memorandum, titled “Turkey: Next Steps,” Holmes sought Christopher’s clearance of a draft that would become telegram 251392. Holmes noted that since the military takeover, the United States continued its economic and military support of Turkey to ensure that the takeover did not become a “divisive issue” in NATO. But now the time had come, Holmes wrote, “to point out to the new Turkish military authorities what we have done and to put them on notice that while we have taken these supporting actions, our ability to continue to be helpful will be affected by what they do in the near future.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P870143–1398)
  3. Anvil Express was a NATO military maneuver exercise carried out in Turkey. The NATO Military Committee met on September 15.