29. Memorandum From Paul B. Henze of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski)1


  • Significance of the Turkish Military Takeover for Greek & Cypriot issues

The military takeover in Turkey does not make Greek and Cyprus issues less amenable to settlement.2 I will be surprised if the military leadership does anything to interfere with the intercommunal talks which resume again in Cyprus next week. The Turkish military favors Greek reintegration into NATO and settlement of Aegean issues with Greece. It was their initiative which led to the lifting of the NOTAM last summer.3

On the other hand, the Turkish military is no pushover on these issues and will resent our preaching to them or embarrassing them by bringing them up as if they were the only priority that concerned us. Their first priority is restoring domestic tranquility to Turkey, keeping the economy functioning well and setting a constitutional reform [Page 114] process in motion.4 These should be our priorities too—for it is only by accomplishment of these objectives that Turkey can be secured as a valuable ally and effective member of NATO and rebuilt as a bastion of strength in the Middle East.

The Turkish military leadership is nevertheless likely to recognize the advantages of making as much progress as possible on Greek relations and Cyprus. We need to deal with them quietly on these issues and we need to restrain the Greeks and Cypriots (if they are so inclined) from making embarrassing noise about them. We also need to restrain (if we can) Greek-American congressmen and other Greek Lobby spokesmen from making critical, intemperate comments about these problems or from seeming to make taunting challenges about settling them. The old Greek Lobby has been remarkably quiet during this campaign season and is being encouraged in no way by the present Greek Ambassador here, who probably sees Turkish developments very much along the lines I have outlined in this memorandum. There is no way in which anyone can benefit by making Turkey a campaign issue in any way. All tendencies to do so should be avoided.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Horn/Special, Box 5, Chron File: 8–9/80. Confidential. Copies were sent to Brement, Blackwill, Albright, and Griffith.
  2. On September 12, General Kenan Evren, Chief of the Turkish General Staff, took control of the Turkish Government. See Document 154.
  3. See footnote 7, Document 163.
  4. Henze expanded this line of reasoning in a memorandum to Brzezinski, written the same day, with the subject line, “Our Response to Military Takeover in Turkey.” Henze argued that the coup was a positive development, it had nothing to do with anti-American/NATO sentiment, and the United States should not publicly criticize the takeover. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 75, Turkey: 9/80–1/81)