199. Discussion Paper Prepared for a Policy Review Committee Meeting1



On February 22, Greece announced its rejection of the latest SACEUR proposal for reintegration and stated it continues to believe the original 1978 Haig/Davos arrangements offer the solution to reintegration and that Greece is ready to accept that solution.2 Turkey in the fall of 1978 formally rejected the Haig/Davos arrangements and is due to respond to the latest SACEUR proposal by late March. Although the ultimate degree of flexibility in the Greek and Turkish positions is not known, SACEUR may soon submit a report completing his efforts without having bridged the gap.

The basic problem, in addition to the traditional distrust between the two nations, is that reintegration is a surrogate for maritime/continental shelf boundary disputes in the Aegean with each side skillfully and tenaciously holding to positions which will support or not prejudice its civil case.

The Greek announcement reflects Karamanlis’ concern that the reintegration issue could be used against him or his party in the presidential election to be held no later than 20 May. He had told us earlier that the imminence of the election required the issue to be resolved by the end of March. Since the Greek Government did not see the SACEUR efforts developing what were considered to be politically acceptable arrangements, Karamanlis preemptively rejected them and re[Page 608]verted to Haig/Davos, a position he could politically defend. Having taken this position, he probably will not need formally to withdraw Greece’s reintegration request, although this possibility cannot be excluded. Foreign Minister Rallis told Ambassador McCloskey the Greeks might raise the issue at the political level during the June 25–26 NATO Ministerial, implying they will not withdraw the request prior to the Ministerial.

At a maximum, we should build on the SACEUR effort to achieve reintegration or develop some basis for improved Greek relations with the NATO military wing. We must avoid any withdrawal of Greece’s application for reintegration or a serious estrangement between Greece and NATO over reintegration. In Greece, any estrangement would be blamed on the US, thereby damaging our bilateral relations and possibly endangering our military basing rights. In the US, some political elements would blame it on Turkey and the Administration’s failure to overcome a “Turkish veto,” and create difficulties for our efforts to provide adequate assistance. At a minimum, we need a continuation of Greece’s present level of participation in the Alliance, and maintenance of US-Greek relations that allow continued operation of US facilities in Greece.

There are a number of strategies to achieve this. A basic choice lies between using NATO processes or direct US mediation. Some strategies involve greater participation by other NATO allies in established NATO bodies, or specially established sub-groups thereof, to continue the reintegration dialogue; the Greeks and Turks would participate either as members of the groups or negotiate face-to-face with them. Others involve intermediaries such as SACEUR, wisemen, or the US. The strategy selected would be dependent on the final outcome of SACEUR’s current efforts. Section VI of this paper examines these strategies.

What we must do now to preclude a precipitous Greek action on the completion of SACEUR’s efforts is to tell the Greeks, without in any way promising a more favorable outcome, that due to the importance of the issue, we are actively exploring with Secretary General Luns and key allies means to continue the reintegration dialogue following the completion of SACEUR’s efforts.


Prime Minister Karamanlis withdrew the Greek armed forces from the NATO military command structure in August 1974, because the Alliance had not prevented the Turkish intervention on Cyprus which almost led to war between Greece and Turkey. Karamanlis informed the Alliance of his decision in a letter dated August 28, 1974, the operative paragraphs of which are:

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“If the Alliance was not in a position to prevent armed conflict between two of its members, would it be able to come to their succour in the event of a danger from outside? My government have, therefore, decided that they must assume themselves the protection of the independence of Greece and place again the Greek land, sea and air forces heretofore assigned to the integrated allied military organization under national command.

“. . . as a consequence of this decision Greece shall recover forthwith over her entire territory, airspace and territorial waters full exercise of sovereignty which was heretofore limited on account of her participation in NATO and as a result of the permanent presence on Greek soil of foreign military installations and facilities, or of the regular use of Greek airspace and territorial waters by foreign military aircraft and naval vessels.”3

Greece then withdrew its armed forces from commitment to NATO and representatives from the NATO Defense Planning Committee, the Defense Review Committee, and the Executive Working Group. Greece retained representation in the NATO Military Committee and the Nuclear Planning Group. Greece pulled out of the joint US/Greek/Turkish land and air command at Izmir, but continued some degree of participation in NATO higher military headquarters; the Commander of the Greek Navy continued to wear a NATO hat as Commander, Mediterranean East Area. Greece also continued to participate in other Alliance activities such as certain exercises.

(On October 21, 1976, the Greeks quietly earmarked most of their nuclear capable forces for assignment to NATO, indicating they would come under NATO control after reinforced alert and would remain under national command in peacetime.)

In August 1975, Greece indicated an interest in reintegrating and subsequently in September and October set forth its position on reintegration. This was done, despite the fact that the Cyprus dispute remained unresolved, as part of Karamanlis’ policy of binding Greece to the West through NATO and EC membership. Pressure from the Greek military to return, and the pervasive Greek fear of Turkey which closer NATO membership would help alleviate were probably also factors in the Greek decision.

Turkey objected to the Greek position in the NATO DPC because it appeared to limit Greece’s contribution to NATO to the defense of Greece only and not to the entire Alliance. To clarify the issue, the DPC in November 1975 agreed on “Political Guidelines for Negotiations [Page 610]with the Greek Government” which provided for an ad hoc “Open-ended Group” (OEG) on reintegration.4 The guidelines noted that the Greek PermRep would not be a member of the OEG but could be invited to meet with the group to exchange views. The OEG was established and, after an exchange with Greece, in February 1978 agreed that SACEUR should conduct military/technical explorations with the Greeks. He was to report back to the Military Committee which would forward the report and an MC analysis to the DPC/OEG and the Secretary General as part of the development of the NATO position for use in formally negotiating reintegration with the Greeks. Other non-military/technical issues were to be addressed by other NATO bodies.

General Haig as SACEUR undertook this assignment and on June 19, 1978, reported to the Military Committee that the responses to the military questions he had received from the Greek Armed Forces Chief, General Davos, provided a workable framework for the return of Greece to the integrated military structure. The Greeks, to the chagrin of SACEUR, labelled these as the Haig/Davos Arrangements, a key element of which was the utilization, on an interim basis, of the pre-1974 air and naval command boundaries in the Aegean. These boundaries gave Greece control of the Aegean up to a line equidistant between the Eastern Aegean Greek islands and the Turkish mainland, which essentially coincides with the Greek position in the bilateral disputes between the two countries.

The rest of the Military Committee was prepared to accept these arrangements but Turkey objected, denying the validity of the pre-1974 boundaries even on an interim basis. Under the NATO consensus procedure this was sufficient to block approval of Haig/Davos. The Turks argued that when the command boundaries were developed in the 1950’s, the Turkish navy had been small, Greece was an effective ally of Turkey, and there had been no significant Soviet threat identified in the Aegean. They also contended that there were problems with the pre-1974 arrangements on procedural grounds, since the boundaries, had not been endorsed at the political level in NATO and the air defense boundaries in the Aegean had been established in 1964 without seeking Turkish approval. Behind these technical reasons were Turkish concerns that the pre-1974 boundaries did not provide adequate protection for Turkey from attack over the Aegean, including from Greece, and, more importantly, the belief that the NATO boundaries might in some way be used as a precedent for denying Turkish civil boundary claims in the Aegean. The Turks also realized that, were Greece to be reintegrated using the pre-1974 boundaries even on an interim basis, [Page 611]the Greeks would be in a position to use the consensus procedure to block any changes.

[Omitted here is the body of the discussion paper.]

  1. Source: Carter Library, Donated Material, Papers of Walter F. Mondale, Box 50, Foreign Countries—Greece, 1980. Secret; Exdis. In a March 18 covering memorandum to Mondale, Vance, Brown, Jones, and Turner, Christine Dodson noted that the PRC meeting was scheduled for March 19 at 3 p.m. (Ibid.)
  2. The Embassy reported this information in telegram 1693 from Athens, February 22. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800093–0227)
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1969-1976, vol. XXX, Greece; Cyprus; Turkey, 1973–1976, Document 23.
  4. Not found.