28. Report Prepared in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Department of State1

No. 1336


(C) Summary

One of the Soviet Union’s major foreign policy interests in the recent Brezhnev era has been to develop its relations with Turkey and Greece in response to strategic concerns in the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East. The campaign reached a zenith of sorts in 1978–79 with a series of high-level visits, the signing of political documents establishing a framework for expansion of ties, and agreements to develop trade and economic cooperation. The Kremlin’s desire to neutralize NATO and to reduce US military options in the region dictates a continuing Soviet stake in viable relations with Athens and Ankara.

Greece’s relative economic and political stability and its government’s desire to normalize relations with the East, even while retaining a strong anti-Communist bias at home, augur development of relations more or less along the lines of those between the Soviet Union and most West European countries.

Turkey promises to be an unpredictable, even volatile, equation for Moscow. Growing economic and political difficulties in Turkey may lead to a more conservative order or other conditions that could erase some of the gains the Soviets have achieved.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan already has begun to renovate Turkey’s ties with the West at the expense of those with the Soviet Union, as members of the Western alliance respond to events by increasing the flow of economic and military aid to Ankara. The strong opposition of Saudi Arabia, a major potential aid donor, and other influential non-aligned powers to the Afghanistan invasion may also deter the Turks from expanding their Soviet ties.

Kurdish separatism in Iran, if successful, will raise the possibility of similar actions among Turkey’s Kurdish minority. The Turks will be sensitive to any Soviet attempt to sponsor the Kurds in Turkey or Iran.

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Significant Turkish rapprochement with the USSR and its allies in the 1980’s is unlikely, even under a left-of-center government in Ankara. Militating against it are a multitude of influences—historic Turkish opposition to Russia, the anti-Communist bias of a basically conservative Muslim population, the inability of CEMA member-countries to match the economic advantages offered by the West, the example of Afghanistan. On the other hand, economic, security, and pragmatic political considerations will compel even a conservative government to try to maintain good relations with the Soviets.

[Omitted here is the body of the intelligence report.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, Office Subject Files 1965–1980, Lot 92D412, Box 3, Balkan Affairs 1979–80. Secret; Noforn; Nocontract; Orcon. Prepared by H. Jonathan Bemis (INR/SEE); approved by Martha Mautner (INR/RSE/FP).