198. Intelligence Memorandum Prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency1

PA M 80–10127


There has been little progress in the two-year effort to secure full Greek reintegration into NATO. Athens last month rejected General Rogers’ pro[Page 604]posals for reapportioning Alliance responsibilities between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean. The Turks, who will state their formal position next week, also seem unhappy with the proposals.2 The growing political involvement of the Turkish military and Greek Prime Minister Karamanlis’ desire to settle the reentry issue before stepping up to the Presidency, as well as the increased potential for Soviet meddling in the region, may have somewhat improved the chances for movement on the Greek reintegration issue. But the Greek-Turkish rivalry runs so deep that it is still questionable that the Alliance can square the Greek-Turkish circle. [handling restriction not declassified]

The Dispute So Far

The negotiations have been unsuccessful because military responsibilities for the southeastern flank cannot be separated from the broader differences that underlie Greek-Turkish rivalry. The issue of NATO air and naval responsibility for the Aegean inevitably engages the more fundamental problem of sovereignty in the Aegean. [handling restriction not declassified]

Prime Minister Karamanlis has sought Greek reintegration into NATO as the capstone of his efforts to anchor Greece firmly to the West. His moderately conservative government only reluctantly left NATO in August 1974, in response to political pressures arising from the Alliance’s perceived unwillingness to prevent Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus. Karamanlis and his colleagues nonetheless realize that NATO is the only viable guarantor of their country’s security, and they are anxious to return so long as the terms of reentry are politically feasible and do not compromise Greece’s position in bilateral disputes with Turkey over Aegean rights. [handling restriction not declassified]

Athens wants to rejoin NATO on terms that essentially restore the pre-1974 status quo which gave Greece primary responsibility for the Aegean. The Greeks have consistently reiterated that the original formula worked out between General Haig and former Greek chief of staff Davos in May 1978 and approved at the military level by all allies save Turkey is the only acceptable formula for reintegration. The Haig-Davos formula would establish Greek air and ground commands similar to those the Turks now have in Izmir, reactivate a Greek-led NATO naval command, and permit Greek air responsibility over the Aegean on an interim basis pending resolution of Greek-Turkish bilateral differences. [handling restriction not declassified]

Turkish governments have not objected to Greek reintegration, but they have insisted that Greece must first agree to a new division of Alliance responsibilities in the absence of a comprehensive bilateral agree[Page 605]ment on mutual rights in the Aegean. The Turks have been determined to roll back what they view as earlier Greek encroachments that have threatened to transform the Aegean into a Greek lake. This determination has been fueled by the prevalence of weak governments whose responsiveness to nationalistic sentiments makes compromise difficult. The result is that Ankara rejected the initial Haig-Davos formula and remained reserved about subsequent refinements which General Haig introduced with the aim of assuaging Turkish fears that Greek dominance of the Sea would be ratified. [handling restriction not declassified]

The Rogers Proposal

Last fall, General Rogers informally presented to the Greeks proposals that differed little from the amended formula General Haig had come up with. Concerning command and control of NATO surface and subsurface units in the Aegean, General Rogers suggested the adoption of a task force arrangement whereby the task force commander, not the Greek or Turkish national commanders, would control the units. In regard to control of Aegean airspace, General Rogers proposed the establishment of a NATO air defense headquarters in Larissa, Greece commanded by an officer of neither Turkish nor Greek nationality. This headquarters would control the international airspace over the Aegean, thus restricting Greek control to the airspace over its territory and territorial waters. An associated proposal envisaged an automatic exchange of flight information between the Greeks and the Turks in a corridor that roughly flanked the Athens-Istanbul FIR boundary.3 [handling restriction not declassified]

Athens rejected the Rogers plan as unworkable, noting that it also left open the possibility that the new headquarters could assign Turkish aircraft to defend Greek airspace—a serious threat to national sovereignty, security, and pride in Greek eyes. The Turks probably also expressed reservations. After further consultations with Greek and Turkish military officials, General Rogers last month unveiled a slightly revised version of his November formula, but this was also rejected publicly by the Greeks. The Turks are scheduled to give their reply soon but they too seem to have problems with it, particularly over air defense.4 [handling restriction not declassified]

Hopeful Signs?

Meanwhile, there has been an unexpected development in the bilateral dispute between Greece and Turkey. On 22 February, the Turks [Page 606] suddenly announced that they were rescinding NOTAM 714 and thus giving up their five-year old demand that civilian air traffic entering the eastern half of the Aegean report to Turkish air control authorities. Athens quickly responded by lifting NOTAM 1157 which had declared the Aegean air corridors danger areas. Civilian air traffic has now been resumed over the Aegean.5 [handling restriction not declassified]

There are indications that the Turkish General Staff was directly responsible for the lifting of the Turkish NOTAM, and that it is tiring of civilian politicking at a time when Turkey is faced with serious economic and internal security problems and is in desperate need of foreign economic and military assistance. The military’s active involvement in prodding the minority Demirel government could produce other dividends in the foreign policy area. Foreign Minister Erkmen has suggested that the lifting of NOTAM 714 signals a new Turkish willingness to negotiate Aegean issues in a piecemeal—and therefore more manageable—fashion. There is thus at least an outside chance that conciliation could spill over into the Greek reentry issue and produce some movement on the part of the Turks. [handling restriction not declassified]

Greek policymakers, however, remain suspicious of Turkish motives. They suspect that Ankara may have rescinded NOTAM 714 simply to give the appearance of conciliation before it became known publicly that the reentry negotiations had faltered once again. These same policymakers also suspect that no further Turkish accommodation will be forthcoming. They point to another statement by the Turkish Foreign Minister in which he reiterates that his government still could not accept Greece’s return to NATO under pre-1974 arrangements. [handling restriction not declassified]

The next several weeks will contain crucial tests of Greek and Turkish willingness to compromise. During that time, Karamanlis will have to decide whether he will step up to the presidency or remain as prime minister. If he decides to run for the presidency, he will have to make concessions on reentry beforehand since he will not have the authority to do so as president. And his successor, whether Defense Minister Averoff or someone else, may not have adequate support to follow through on the reentry bid. [handling restriction not declassified]

Turkish leaders, both civilian and military, are surely aware of this and their actions in the coming weeks will show whether they are now inclined to facilitate—or at least not to block—Greek reentry. Should the necessary flexibility be lacking in Athens and in Ankara and should [Page 607] Karamanlis become president, the Greek reentry bid could be derailed indefinitely. [handling restriction not declassified]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Directorate of Intelligence, Job 85T00287R, Box 1, PA M Projects (1980) 3. Secret; [handling restriction not declassified]. A note at the bottom of the page reads in part: “This memorandum, requested by the National Security Council, was prepared by [name not declassified] of the Western Europe Division of the Office of Political Analysis and [name not declassified] of the Theater Forces Division of the Office of Strategic Research. The paper was coordinated with the National Intelligence Officer for Western Europe. Research was completed on 17 March 1980.”
  2. An unknown hand struck out the portion of the sentence that reads: “who will state their formal position next week.”
  3. An unknown hand wrote at the end of the paragraph: “DIA IA Greek: NATO Reentry 16 Nov. 1979.” The DIA paper was not found.
  4. An unknown hand wrote “Same” after this paragraph. Rogers’ proposal is outlined in Document 198.
  5. See footnote 7, Document 163.