42. Telegram From the Embassy in Turkey to the Department of State and the Embassy in Greece1
5966. Subject: Policy Analysis and Recommendations: Adjusting to Post-Makarios Uncertainty.
1. The death of Makarios has removed one of the few relatively stable factors from the complex political equation in the Eastern Mediterranean. It is possible that the Greek Cypriot leadership succession will be quickly sorted out, that an authoritative leader will emerge, and thus that intercommunal negotiations can be relaunched without undue delay. On the other hand, and perhaps more likely, we may be faced with a prolonged period of uncertainty and the prospect of resumed negotiations indefinitely put off. This would raise an immediate challenge to the current course of our policy: How can we reasonably insist that the Turks make progress in Cyprus when the Greek Cypriots have no leader with a mandate to negotiate and when it is unclear how much time must pass before realistic negotiations can again be carried on?
2. We believe that the prospects for a period of prolonged uncertainty are sufficiently great that we should consider possible alternatives to our present policy. We also believe that such a situation might provide a basis for persuading a majority of Congress that a continuation of current policy is not beneficial to US interests. We here present, in action memorandum format, our analysis and recommendations regarding the new situation.
3. Issue for decision:
—Should the administration, in light of a changed situation in Cyprus, be prepared to make an effort with Congress to secure endorsement of the US-Turkish Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA), and if so, on what terms? Such an effort, if decided upon, should be undertaken after a reasonable pause to allow the situation in Cyprus to become clearer but with an eye to the congressional calendar which we understand calls for adjournment in the early fall.
4. Essential factors.
—Until now, favorable congressional action on the DCA has not been considered possible without visible progress on Cyprus (i.e., Turkish concession). It has also been believed that Turkey would, in its [Page 151] own interest, make concessions on Cyprus to permit congressional action on the DCA within acceptable time limits.
—The corollary belief was that Makarios was not only willing to settle for a Cyprus solution on terms less satisfactory than those that had existed prior to the Turkish intervention in 1974, but also that he was capable of imposing such a solution on the Greek Cypriot community.
—Any elected successor to Makarios will probably need substantial time to build up the political power and prestige necessary for him to be able to impose such a solution. (If the September by-election of a successor is followed by another election in February 1978, the period before an effective and decisive government emerges in Nicosia will be longer.)
—Under these circumstances, the Turks will not move unilaterally and the possibility of progress toward a Cyprus solution will be put off until at least mid-1978 and perhaps longer.
—If the approval of the DCA remains tied to progress in Cyprus when progress is impossible, the US-Turkish and Turkish-NATO relationship will continue to deteriorate and our larger security interests in the Eastern Mediterranean will be impaired. The continued decline in Turkish defense capability will set up a variety of pressures and problems which could lead to a weakening of Turkey’s Western commitment and further embitter Turkish-Greek relations.
5. Options—The broad choices presented below are between continuing our present policy under the probable new circumstances created by Makarios’ death or making a variety of adjustments in our policy to meet the new circumstances.
Option A. Continue our present policy, i.e., not actively seek congressional endorsement until there is enough progress on Cyprus to eliminate the risk of congressional rejection of the DCA. (Variant: ask for unilateral Turkish concessions as a goodwill gesture to Makarios’ successor.)
—The objective situation in the Eastern Mediterranean has not changed. The Turkish side holds more territory than is justified and should make concessions. Without Turkish concessions the Cyprus problem will remain unresolved. (While we present this as a pro argument—one that will be made by proponents of continuing pressure on Turkey—it is based on what we believe to be the mistaken assumption that putting pressure on the GOT will resolve the Cyprus problem.)
—From the point of view of the administration’s relationship with Congress, this appears to be the least costly course of action in the short run.[Page 152]
—This policy has not in itself produced Turkish concessions for the last two and a half years, and its chances now are further cut by the uncertainty in Cyprus.
—There is no assurance yet that any Greek Cypriot leader will soon have enough real authority to negotiate a settlement and commit his community to it. Even if the winner of the by-election genuinely wished to negotiate an agreement, the prospect of another election in February 1978 could deter him from undertaking the potential political risks of settlement. Conversely, a settlement negotiated by an interim leader might possibly be disavowed by his successor.
—The GOT will not throw away bargaining chips by making concessions outside of a negotiating framework and without a clear trade-off.
—The Turks will not understand our continuing to apply pressure on them for progress in Cyprus when the Greek Cypriots are unable to conduct negotiations on a settlement for perhaps an indefinitely prolonged period. They no doubt will regard our continuation of such a policy as both unrealistic and unfair, and they probably will draw inferences about our aims that will be further damaging to our relations.
—With the passage of time, Turkish resentment of US congressional pressures is hardening, Turkish military capability to contribute to NATO defense is drastically deteriorating, and Turkish willingness to consider strategic alternatives to association with the US and NATO is increasing.
—Congress is not monolithic on this issue. In the long run, important elements could blame the administration if Turkey turned away from NATO towards neutralism, or became pro-Soviet or pro-Arab.
Option B. Continue to insist that prior progress is necessary for DCA approval but advise the GOT of the precise minimum offer it must make to meet our need with Congress, and commit ourselves to seek congressional endorsement once that offer is made regardless of Greek or Greek Cypriot reaction.
—If successful, this course would eliminate the main source of damage to our bilateral relationship with Turkey and would rationalize our approach to our security position in the Eastern Mediterranean.
—This course would make it clear to the Turks administration is willing to invest efforts in seeking congressional approval of the DCA simply being manipulated by insatiable Greek Cypriots or the Greek Lobby.
—Such an arrangement would tend to dampen Turkish fears that whatever prior concessions are offered will merely whet the appetite of the Greek Cypriots and their partisans.[Page 153]
—The US would become a self-appointed arbiter, involved directly in the substance of the maneuvering and bargaining over Cyprus.
—Either side or both might be alienated by the US position.
—The Turks, not having much confidence in US constancy, might be reluctant to offer up concessions simply in return for US aid without any guarantee of a settlement.
Option C. Actively seek early congressional endorsement of the DCA arguing that this important to our and NATO’s political and security interests and that the uncertain situation in Cyprus makes continuing linkage unrealistic and counter-productive.
—If successful, this course would eliminate the main source of damage to our bilateral relationship with Turkey and would create a basis for continued positive Turkish military participation in NATO.
—The Turks might feel obliged to make concessions after endorsement.
—Even if the Turks did not make concessions, Cyprus would be no farther from a settlement than it is now, our influence with the GOT would be higher, and our relationship with Turkey would be sounder.
—We would appear to be countenancing Turkey’s hard-line approach to Cyprus, encouraging future Turkish intractability, and tempting disregard of our conditions on other matters.
—We would be vulnerable to charges of political expediency, of relegating moral principles to a secondary position, and of taking advantage of Makarios’ death to settle short.
—The Greeks and the Greek Cypriots would be incensed. Their responses would be emotional and perhaps damaging to our interests.
—The international anti-Turkish propaganda campaign (now focussed on human rights issues) conducted successfully by the Greek Cypriots for the last several years would be intensified and the US might also become a target. Opponents of the DCA in Congress might be given additional ammunition as a result of Greek Cypriot efforts this fall at the Council of Europe and the Belgrade CSCE follow-up conference.
—The effort to win congressional approval might not work and its failure would further damage our bilateral relationship and our security position.
Option D. Seek congressional approval of the DCA on a “condition subsequent” basis (i.e., the GOT would be committed to take specific moves after congressional endorsement).[Page 154]
—The “pro” factors listed for Options B, C, and D would apply.
—The elimination of public linkage would make it politically easier for the Turks to move.
—A linkage would continue to exist, however, and Turkish concessions could be relatively assured.
—Improvement of the Turkish-US relationship would not, as the Turks view it, be left dependent on the Greek Cypriots and their partisans.
—Some members of Congress would still be reluctant to agree to an arrangement which would appear to be abandoning linkage.
—Negotiation of the subsequent conditions would be difficult—and would involve us directly in the substance of the issue.
—The Turks would be reluctant to make any concessions not publicly defensible. Given its own internal weakness, as well as the weakened and uncertain state of the Greek Cypriot administration, the GOT might find it difficult to make significant concessions even on this basis.
Option E. Abandon the DCA and seek with Congress and the GOT a new way of restoring our relationship.
—The Turkish DCA is not a perfect instrument. It has become a symbol of executive-legislative conflict. The delay in endorsement has aggravated the Turks.
—A less formal basis for our relationship might give us more flexibility.
—Under foreseeable circumstances the DCA offers the best deal we can get from the Turks.
—A formal basis for our relationship is necessary not only because of uncertainties introduced into the US-Turkish defense relationship by congressionally-mandated arms transfer restrictions but also because of internal Turkish political and economic dynamics which have begun to move the GOT away from the West.
—Abandonment of the DCA would suggest to the GOT a lessening US relationship and interest.
—The problems that plague the DCA would almost certainly plague any alternative arrangement.
—Finding a new way would involve further delay and deterioration of both US-Turkish and Turkish-NATO relationships and might in the long run prove more costly to the US.[Page 155]
6. Recommendation. We recommend the administration begin private consultations with key members of Congress making the point that the death of Makarios will probably introduce so much uncertainty and delay into the Cyprus settlement process that our present policy is no longer sustainable without spiraling costs to US-Turkish relations and the Turkish commitment to NATO and seeking to identify which course of action would be most acceptable in Congress. Our preferred course of action would be Option D.2
- Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770287–1110. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Sent to Nicosia.↩
- In telegram 190652 to Ankara, August 12, the Department replied: “Clearly, Makarios’ death has created a situation in which we must carefully plan what we do next to advance prospects for a Cyprus solution as well as to restore the closest possible US-Turkey relationship. There is also no question that these two matters must be examined in tandem. This policy review process has already begun in Washington and your cable will be a valuable tool as this effort continues. You should also know that while we intend to proceed expeditiously, the issues involved are sufficiently complex that early decisions are unlikely. There will thus inevitably be some delay in responding to the underlying questions in your telegram.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770290–0561)↩