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192. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (Siena) to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (McGiffert)1


  • Conversations with MOD Averoff September 15–16, 1979

I had several one-on-one discussions with MOD Averoff on the Greek reintegration problem. The general impression I take from them is that the current SACEUR initiative is sure to fail, and that the Greeks expect us to solve the problem.

Averoff opened our conversations by saying that he saw little hope for reintegration. The problem, he said, is to preserve our bilateral relations. The latter, I said, goes without saying, but reintegration should not be written off yet. He agreed, but it is plain that he has nothing to propose. He said that Karamanlis would not act precipitously but that the pressure is great and they have been “put in a corner.”

The current proposal will fail, Averoff said, because politically Karamanlis cannot accept arrangements providing less security to Greece, as seen by the Greeks, than those which were in existence in 1974. The Greek military, the arbiter of acceptability for the government, sees the current proposals as providing less security than the pre-74 arrangements. The main concern is command and control boundaries for airspace. The naval situation, I was told by both Averoff and the Greek CNO, Admiral Konofaos, can be accommodated within the current proposals provided that satisfactory clarifications are made on the conditions under which AFSOUTH would and would not pass operational command to the Greek Commander, COMEDEAST. (This problem should be soluble with a level of generality which will not impede future actions.)

The basic Greek concern, as expressed to me, is for the security of their islands adjacent to Turkey. There is a lingering fear of invasion, and a classified Turkish manual for senior officers which they came upon fuels that fear. They read further confirmation into some of Ecevit’s remarks in recent years. Averoff acknowledged that they also do not wish the Turks any advantage in the basic quarrel over rights in [Page 588]the Aegean, something which he, at the same time, minimized insofar as Greek use of any settlement in that context is concerned. He stressed that it would be politically unacceptable to create the perception that, through reintegration arrangements, Turkey’s positions on Aegean issues had the support of NATO.

Karamanlis’ problem is compounded by the fact that they had the deal they wanted in the Haig-Davos arrangements, and the Turkish veto of that approach puts them in the position of a petitioner with the Turks holding that which they want. This is hard enough for the Greeks to accept. That the US is seen, rightly or not, as the behind-the-scenes manipulator, is further aggravation given their lingering disenchantment with what they see as our tilt towards Turkey. It pains Karamanlis, and galls him as well, to have the door to NATO held by the Turks with, as is alleged to the benefit of his opposition, the acquiescence of the US.

Averoff did not press me to pressure the Turks. He made plain, however, that he sees us as the only force with which the Turks will reckon. He does not expect the Turks to seek a way out of this. He is quite skeptical whether the Turks do indeed wish to see Greece back in, even though there is a mutual security interest in that. When I suggested to him that the burgeoning interest in Turkey’s position in regional security might lead to a diminution of interest in Greece, which would be furthered if Greece continues to stand aside, he said, “. . . oh well, we’ll survive.”

He seemed unfamiliar, at least, and alert to the argument that Greece’s remaining out of the Alliance could indeed have an unraveling effect.2 I argued that now, if a country faces a hard choice (such as LRTNF), the choices are to go along or not. If Greece withdraws finally from the integrated military structure, there will be a precedent for a third choice, i.e., bail out. His reaction, and those of Admiral Konofaos and the Foreign Office people on whom I pressed this point, was one of understanding and concern. This point, of course, will have little currency in Greece. It may stiffen the spines of those who wish to return. It is an argument which we might use in gathering Alliance support for a solution.3

Averoff told me that Karamanlis will not act precipitously after rejecting the SACEUR proposal. They may indeed study the proposal [Page 589]further for a while. But the walls are closing in, and after they have turned the proposal down the matter cannot be left to molder for very long. Karamanlis will eventually have to “withdraw his application” for reintegration unless something worth talking about further is at hand.

James V. Siena 4 Deputy Assistant Secretary European and NATO Affairs
  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–82–0205, Box 10, Greece 17 Oct 79. Secret. The upper right-hand corner of the page is initialed and dated 9/24, by Harold Brown. Additionally, “SECDEF has seen” is stamped in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. He acknowledged without argument that the French precedent does not support the Greek position. The French Ambassador to Greece [Jacques de Folin] told me that he thought Greece should return to the Alliance. The French have been mildly helpful on this issue. [Footnote in the original.]
  3. In the right-hand margin, an unknown hand drew a line along the side of the entire paragraph and wrote, “good point.”
  4. Siena signed “Jim” above this typed signature.