194. Memorandum From Robert D. Blackwill of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs (Aaron)1


  • Greek Reintegration Into NATO (S)

As you asked, I have looked into the problem of Greek reintegration into NATO.2 The facts are these:

—The Greeks want a return to pre-1974 NATO arrangements in the region and argue anything less would wound Karamanlis and endanger Greek democracy. About six months ago, Karamanlis froze relations with the U.S. with the objective of putting pressure on us to be more responsive to the Greek position.

—The Turks, who wish to become an Aegean power and possess a veto within the Alliance, want some affirmation that the status quo in the Aegean has changed.

—The U.S. as always is caught between the two. (S)

After the Turks rejected the original HaigDavos Agreement which called for a return to the pre-1974 arrangements, Haig attempted to square this circle with a complicated proposal which would divide air defense control of the Aegean between Greece and NATO authorities. The Greeks would control the “columns” of air space above their Aegean islands and NATO the rest of the Aegean air-space. The Turks would apparently accept this. (S)

After about a year of discussion of the SACEUR proposal, Greek Foreign Minister Rallis told Vance last week in New York (telegram at Tab A) that the GOG could not agree because 1) Air Defense control would have to change so frequently in the Aegean from NATO to Greek to NATO to Greek, etc., that the system would prove unworkable; 2) A NATO commander could assign Air Defense responsibilities [Page 594] in the Aegean to a Turkish aircraft; and 3) Greek public opinion would never accept the SACEUR arrangement.3 (S)

Vance did not defend the SACEUR proposal which, in effect, killed it. (The Turks will be unhappy when they find this out.) He said efforts to find an acceptable solution should continue in military channels and, if no solution had been found by the time of the NATO Ministerial in December, the GOG might wish to raise this issue to the political level. Rallis agreed, but made clear his expectation that further exchanges in military channels would produce nothing. (S)

Meanwhile, Karamanlis has written a tough letter to the President (Advance copy at Tab B) which blames Turkey, the United States, and NATO for everything except cloudy days in Athens: “Unfortunately, the Alliance, instead of disapproving Turkey’s behavior, encourages her by her tolerance and recommends negotiations on proposals which are politically unacceptable and militarily impractical.”4

We now have basically two choices:

1. We can mark time through desultory exchanges in the military channel until December when the Greeks may put forward a political solution. Such a GOG proposal would inevitably be unacceptable to the Turks and probably to us. We would then be faced early next year with a disappointed and angry Greece energizing its supporters in the United States.

2. We can go back to the Greeks in the near future making the following points:

—We hope the GOGwill make a good faith effort in the military channel (for the record since nothing will come of this).

—We would be interested in Greek ideas (not a formal proposal) about what a political initiative would look like. (S)

I argued strongly in a meeting at the State Department today that we should pursue the second option. In this way we would both be responsive to Karamanlis and company and have a chance at shaping the Greek political initiative before it is formalized. The odds are against finding a solution acceptable to both the Greeks and Turks, especially since the Turks will have a national election in October and probably produce another weak government, but this course would at least keep [Page 595] the process going and show the Greeks we care. After lots of give and take at the meeting, Option 2 will be recommended to Matt Nimetz with an internal deadline of two weeks in getting back to the GOG.5 (S)

  1. Source: Carter Library, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 16, Greece: 1978–1980. Secret. Sent for information. The upper right-hand corner of the page is stamped “ZB has seen” and bears Aaron’s handwritten note: “ZB—Worth reading. DA.” A copy was sent to Henze.
  2. Five days later, Carter posed a similar question. In an October 6 memorandum to Vance, Brzezinski reported that the President had read a summary of Vance’s talks with Rallis in New York. (Ibid.) Brzezinski noted in the memorandum that Carter raised a question in response to the Vance-Rallis meeting: “How can we get out of the prime role? Why should we beg them?” Brzezinski closed the memorandum to Vance by noting that “the Department [of State] should respond to the President’s questions.” No response was found. Regarding Vance’s meeting, see footnote 3 below.
  3. Tab A is not attached. The Department transmitted the memorandum of conversation of Vance and Rallis’ September 25 meeting in telegram 256289 to Athens, September 29. In the conversation, Rallis informed the Secretary that Greece had rejected the latest NATO proposal for Greek reintegration. Rallis reiterated that Karamanlis was committed to reintegration but that the current proposal on Aegean command and control was unacceptable for military reasons. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790445–0622)
  4. Tab B is not attached, but is printed as Document 193.
  5. In telegram 9221 from Athens, October 12, the Embassy reported that Nimetz and Tzounis met on October 10 to discuss the terms of Greek reintegration into NATO. Ambassador McCloskey noted that the meeting yielded Greek ideas on reintegration—as called for in Blackwill’s Option 2—but that the ideas put forward by Tzounis were vague and only potentially valuable for the Greeks insofar as they could deflect criticism by demonstrating that Greece made a counterproposal rather than stall negotiations further. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D790468–0136)