5. Minutes of a Policy Review Committee Meeting1


  • Cyprus


  • State

    • Secretary Cyrus Vance
    • Arthur Hartman
    • Clark Clifford
  • Defense

    • Secretary Harold Brown
    • Charles W. Duncan
    • Maynard W. Glitman
  • JCS

    • L. Gen. William Y. Smith
  • CIA

    • Enno Knoche
    • [name not declassified]
  • NSC

    • Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski
    • David Aaron
    • Greg Treverton
    • Paul Henze
    • Christine Dodson (notetaker)
    • Robert Hunter
    • Adm. Stansfield Turner

Secretary Vance: Let us begin the meeting with a review (by CIA) of how things stand currently.

Mr. Knoche: (On Turkey) Our main concern is Turkey; elections are scheduled for next October; if the internal situation deteriorates, it is likely the military may intervene; there is internal disorder, particularly student disorder; at this moment, the chances are less than 50–50 that the military will intervene before the Clifford mission.2 Also we should keep in mind that the pattern of military intervention in Turkish do [Page 13] mestic politics is one of imposing martial law for a time until order is reestablished and then withdrawing rather than taking over, becoming the government. There is a kind of “democratic tradition” in Turkish military intervention in domestic affairs. So, such intervention, should it occur, would not embarrass the Clifford Mission.

Secretary Brown: They do, however, occasionally hang ministers!

(Laughter and Vance reminisces about inopportune arrival in Turkey once, in the middle of a military intervention)

Mr. Knoche: (On Cyprus): Denktash and Makarios have, as you know, already held one meeting.3 The meeting was held on Turkish initiative after the Clifford mission was announced; it was probably a move designed to make the Turkish-Cypriot leadership look good before Clifford arrived. Denktash probably exceeded his instructions.

The Turkish Cypriot position defines the territory to be held by Turkey between 30–33%; the Greek-Cypriot position, no more than 20%. Somewhere between this 20% and this 30–33% is the room for maneuver and compromise.

(On Aegean) Tension remains. The Greeks insist on their exclusive right to the seabed. However, Turkey feels the stronger party; they have the upper hand in Cyprus and it will be difficult . . . there will be trouble if they are asked to move away from this position of strength.

Secretary Vance: What about the Geneva talks on Greek-Turkish differences?4

Mr. Knoche: [less than 1 line not declassified]

Secretary Vance: I have some indications: the talks are proceeding in a satisfactory way on the outset. I have talked to Bitsios; the Greek and Turkish Ambassadors are looking into how to proceed more rapidly.

[name not declassified: less than 1 line not declassified] the Greeks and Turks are taking the Geneva negotiations more seriously. The issue is to break the linkage between Turkish and Greek differences in the Aegean and the Cyprus question.

Secretary Vance: Turkman (?) [ Turkmen] indicated to me that there was no specific linkage; that talks on both issues could go on side-by-side.

Mr. Knoche: (On Greece): Karamanlis looks forward to the Clifford Mission; the Greeks consider it in their interest. The Greeks consider [Page 14] themselves the weaker party and therefore favor U.S. involvement. To them, non-involvement by U.S. is considered an indication of American leaning toward Turkey. There is a fear of pro-leftist drifting if there is American non-involvement.

Secretary Vance: What do you have on Makarios?

Mr. Clifford: Nothing new. He is watchful; waiting. Athens is leaning on him to influence his actions. But nothing specially new. . . .

Secretary Vance: Should we do anything, should we take any initiative before Clark gets there?

Secretary Brown: It is imperative that as soon as feasible we get work on a Turkish and a Greek DCA going along together.

Secretary Vance: Absolutely. We cannot hope to get anything through Congress unless agreements are proposed together.

Clark, if you have any indication during your mission, that both parties are ready to begin to talk on the DCA, let us know so we can begin domestic arrangements.

Secretary Brown: The Turkish military has a strong influence. We need to know if we have a possibility of putting through DCA accord to get the Turks moving.

Mr. Knoche: [1 paragraph (3 lines) not declassified]

[name not declassified: 1½ lines not declassified]

Secretary Vance: There is a lot of skepticism, especially among the Congress, on the real value of these bases.

Lt. General Smith: From the military operational point of view, also, these bases are very important.

Secretary Brown: [1½ lines not declassified]

Lt. General Smith: That is right, of course.

Secretary Vance: Let us now move to a consideration of the objectives of the Clifford mission.

[Secretary Vance then read the objectives of the Clifford Mission as mandated by State (Tab A)—copies were made and distributed to participants.]5

Clark, please report to us on your discussions with Congress.

Mr. Clifford: I confined my discussions to the House. I had a good, frank talk with Zablocki; I also met with the Brademas Sarbanes group; the Greek, Turkish and Cypriot ambassadors, and with Admiral Turner. These are my conclusions:

Congress is saying that unless there is action on Cyprus there will be no action on Turkish DCA; there is a distinct reluctance to go along [Page 15] even with part-time or halfway measures. Even the military aid currently given to Turkey is under close questioning. On the other hand, the view of the Turkish Ambassador is that “if the U.S. links Cyprus to the DCA you’ll get nowhere.” A complete separation is requested.

Turkey, up to now, had the feeling that the executive branch was sympathetic to its outlook; it (Turkey) felt it could pretty much ignore Congress, not be bound by its action. I have attempted to indicate clearly to the Turkish Ambassador that this is a new deal; that times have changed; that there is a Democratic President and a Democratic majority, and that the Congress and the Administration will move together . . .

Secretary Vance: I think they go even further: they believe they have a commitment from the Executive to see their interests through. It is necessary that we make it clear to them that there is a change:

(1) The Executive branch has now a different view;

(2) The votes in Congress are simply not there.

Secretary Brown: They may not be bound by Congress, but we are!

Mr. Clifford: Our mission’s responsibility is to make this clear to Turkey. In confidential conversation we can get into the linkage of the Cyprus and DCA question without appearing really to hook the two together inseparably.

The Denktash/Makarios meeting may have some significance but may only be the result of the announcement of our mission. There is a second meeting scheduled between the two to be attended by Waldheim also. These are the first meetings in 13 years. At least they are talking although nothing substantive was discussed and both restated their known position.

We expect a good reception from the Greeks; we will let you know if any substantive discussion on bases (?) takes place. Makarios has even invited me to lunch.

Dr. Brzezinski: Have a food-taster along!

Mr. Clifford: Our problem is we don’t have much time. Carter has to go over Ford’s budget by March. Under new regulation, Congress has to reach a decision on budget by May 15. I will bring this to the attention of both the Greeks and the Turks. I expect good cooperation from the Greeks. Denktash and Makarios will try; the big problem is going to be Turkey. We feel sympathetic and understanding: Demirel has to be cautious not to indicate he is making concessions; his rival will jump on it. If I were Demirel I would like to go into the Turkish election with a multimillion dollar DCA concluded.

If Cyprus settlement can come not from direct pressure from the U.S., and [not?] as a condition for a U.S./Turkish DCA, but maybe as a [Page 16] result of a UN initiative it will be more acceptable to the Turkish people.

The problems of a Cyprus settlement are many:

(a) apportioning of population;

(b) apportioning of land;

(c) titles to property; etc.

If we can get an understanding on basic principle, an agreement to come back with, we can perhaps go to Congress with this and ask them to go along with the executive on faith. I would personally like to see a Turkish DCA; I would like to see a restoration of the bases in Turkey . . .

Lt. Gen. Smith: Yes, sir.

Mr. Clifford: The best that can be expected from the mission is to develop a climate within which the parties feel that there can be understanding as a basis for progress. If, on the other hand, we come back and say that the Turks are unwilling to do anything at all at this time we will have to report this to the NSC and have the policy makers decide what this Administration’s position is going to be.

Secretary Vance: It will be important to work with the Nine. The Nine have leverage with Greece, so that will be an important piece of the puzzle.6

Mr. Clifford: Yes, but we cannot use their leverage with Turkey, and that is where we need it.

Dr. Brzezinski: It appears that the definition of objectives for the Clifford mission is consistent with Option I of the PRM; this seems to indicate that Option II is considered implicitly impractical.7 I would like, however, to raise an issue: is it wise to focus so heavily and directly on the Cyprus issue itself? Ought we not to consider, not a new line, but a somewhat different focus for this mission? As stated now, there is the danger that the Clifford mission could be perceived as a U.S. mediation effort on Cyprus. Should we not consider the alternative of focusing on the general Greek-Turkish relationship as such . . . [Page 17] Work with those two . . . Make the purpose of the mission not be a triangle Athens/Ankara/Nicosia, but an Athens/Ankara shuttle aiming at facilitating the dialogue between Athens and Ankara, all aspects of the relations between these two and hope that resolution of the Cyprus question will come as an outcome of that more general dialogue . . .

Secretary Vance: Let me speak to this: I doubt that the ultimate solution in Cyprus really depends on the Greeks and the Turks. Makarios still has the ability to block anything they might agree to.

Dr. Brzezinski: That is precisely my point—it will be much easier for us to deal with Makarios if movement has been started in the whole Greco-Turkish relationship. If you concentrate on Cyprus alone, then Makarios’s ability to spoil things will be enhanced. But I am really posing this whole consideration as a question. It seems to me that the Clifford mission should aim at getting a dialogue going between Demirel and Caramanlis . . .

Secretary Vance: A dialogue on what?

Dr. Brzezinski: On all aspects of their relationship . . .

Secretary Brown: Stay out of the Aegean question—Cyprus is the only item of interest to Congress . . .

Dr. Brzezinski: Unless you get the Turks and the Greeks to focus on the larger dimensions of their relationship, you plunge too heavily into the most emotion-laden issue—Cyprus itself, and the whole mission runs the danger of being unsuccessful.

Secretary Vance: Leave it up to Clark to handle; the important thing to Congress is movement with respect to Cyprus.

Dr. Brzezinski: There is no dispute about this—the question remains: how do you get movement? You won’t get movement if you plunge right into the middle of the Cyprus issue. Mr. Clifford should consider concentrating on Athens and Ankara, going back and forth between the two perhaps twice before even going on to Cyprus.

Secretary Vance: We would leave it up to Clark; he should be flexible about going back to any place if he considers it advisable.

Dr. Brzezinski: This is fine; this flexibility should include the option to skip Nicosia if he so decides.

Secretary Vance: No argument.

Mr. Clifford: I recognize the merit of Zbig’s point: the question becomes what do you say as you get off the plane in Athens, then in Ankara . . . In Athens the emphasis should be placed on US-Greek relations; if the question of Cyprus comes up, fine, discuss it in private meetings. In Ankara, I will emphasize my defense background and the long-standing US-Turkish defense relationship with reference to NATO, our bases, etc. I intend to make no mention of Cyprus at all. However, when I talk privately with Demirel I can say “Mr. Prime Min [Page 18] ister, it is up to you: do you want to help us with the problem we have with Congress?”

We can lay off Cyprus; but in the last analysis in addition to furthering relations with two important allies, it is progress in Cyprus that interests Congress; in fact, Congress is shockingly uninterested in long-term Greek-US and Turkish-US relationship.

Dr. Brzezinski: I find what Mr. Clifford has said much more congenial than Option I of the State Department paper. Our objective should be: improve Greco-Turkish relations so that within that climate the Cyprus question can be resolved.

Secretary Vance: Do not delude yourself, however, that the heart of the problem is Cyprus.

Secretary Brown: The administration cannot officially link Cyprus to the DCA but we should tell Turkey privately about it.

Mr. Clifford: The mission’s success should not be directly linked to the solution of the Cyprus question. So that the mission will not be a failure we must emphasize the value of our relationships with the Greeks and the Turks. Cyprus can be kept within the framework of the discussions but not become their focus.

Mr. Knoche: Try to include the Turkish General Staff in the discussions.

Secretary Vance: They will probably be in the next room along with other advisers of Demirel’s. Demirel will shuttle between the conference room and his advisers for consultations.

Mr. Clifford: General Sancar is not averse to some movement on Cyprus. Cyprus has no real economic significance for Turkey; it has no military significance and to the contrary it is an expensive operation for the Turkish army to maintain. It is essentially an emotional factor. If we can diminish this emotional factor and set Cyprus within the framework of the factors that are of much greater importance to Turkey—military aid and its entire relationship with the U.S. and the West—we will have some degree of success. If the groundwork is laid so that a next mission can pursue it, we will have succeeded in this mission.

Secretary Brown: Don’t tie the success of your mission to a solution of the Cyprus problem. The process only should be set.

Mr. Aaron: Yes, do not tie us too close to that; we do not want to have them come to us every time something goes wrong!

(General agreement)

Mr. Clifford: A congressman in fact told me “Mr. Clifford, we expect you to come back and right there would be The Clifford Line.” I cannot imagine this working and I will not aim for it.

Mr. Duncan: Yet someone else from the outside will have to take the political flak for drawing that line at the end.

[Page 19]

Secretary Vance: No doubt. The Greeks will say 20%; the Turks 30–33%; then someone within that range will have to say “this is the line.” They will not do it themselves. Neither wants to give way to the other.

If we can get enough progress as a result of this mission to get the two DCA’s through Congress together, the chance of further success is good. If we cannot, everything may unravel. We may even have trouble maintaining our fallback position which is to maintain aid at its current levels.

Secretary Brown: How would no DCA affect the Turkish elections?

Secretary Vance: It will help Ecevit; it will hurt Demirel.

Mr. Aaron: This is where the Greeks become important. If you can get the Greeks to agree to consider going forward with a DCA and asking their supporters here to support it then you might start unravelling this knot.

Mr. Clifford: The Greek position is: no DCA for Greece, because then there will be a DCA for Turkey and the Greeks want no Turkish DCA. They have no interest in a Greek DCA; current levels of aid favor them and they see no reason to change that.

Mr. Henze: Karamanlis is not such a hard-liner on this; actually the Greeks in America have taken a harder line.

Secretary Vance: Clark, you should feel your way around: the Nine can help, the English and French have indicated a desire to help, the Germans have some leverage with Turkey.

Mr. Clifford: I will leave them with the suggestion that if they want us we will come back.

Admiral Turner: I would like to stress the depth of the Turkish feeling that for the past two years we have been putting it to them. It is very unlikely that they will be in a mood for any concessions. There is a strong feeling of injustice felt particularly by the military people.

Mr. Clifford: I have no illusions on this subject: Turkey is the problem. They are deeply aggrieved by what they consider our improper, infamous actions in the past. But we have to convince them that this is a new deal, that they and we should find a way to be of benefit to them. I hope that by the third day I would be successful in changing their attitude.

Mr. Hartman: You also have to keep in mind that the Turks have accomplished their objectives in Cyprus: they are protecting their population.

[name not declassified: 1 paragraph (3 lines) not declassified]

Secretary Vance: Troop withdrawal means a lot to middle-of-the-road congressmen.

[Page 20]

Mr. Hartman: I do not think that it will satisfy the Hill.

Secretary Vance: I read it differently.

Mr. Clifford: Perhaps troop withdrawal coupled with other signs of progress will be of some impact.

Secretary Vance: There is no decision needed out of this meeting. Our purpose was to get everyone’s views on the Clifford mission before Clark leaves.

Secretary Brown: There are differences of shading, nuance.

Secretary Vance: Get them to us and we will revise the memorandum to reflect them and redistribute it.

Mr. Clifford: I want to thank everyone for holding this meeting for me. I will report back to you on my return to assist you in determining the administration’s position and policy on this issue. I have also been asked to report to the Congress as soon as I return.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 9, Cyprus: 1977. Secret. The meeting took place in the White House Situation Room. Attached but not printed are a February 11 covering memorandum from Dodson to Brzezinski and, at Tab A, an undated report titled “General Objectives of the Clifford Mission.”
  2. President Carter announced on February 3 that he was asking Clark Clifford to be his personal emissary to undertake a mission to Greece, Cyprus, and Turkey to conduct an assessment of the situation on Cyprus. (Public Papers: Carter, 1977, Book I, pp. 77–78)
  3. The meeting took place January 27 in Nicosia.
  4. The UN Sub-Commission on the Protection of Minorities and Prevention of Discriminatory Treatment, under the auspices of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva, served as a stage for debate over Cyprus in the summer of 1976. (Yearbook of the United Nations, 1976, p. 610)
  5. Brackets in the original.
  6. Reference is to the European Community.
  7. Reference is presumably to the February 3 review paper mandated by PRM 5. Prepared by the Department of State, the paper offered two options regarding U.S. involvement in promoting a settlement of the Cyprus dispute. The first option reads: “If the parties in the area are receptive to a U.S. initiative on Cyprus and the European Community continues to want to work closely with us, we should make a major effort in close consultation with the EC to achieve a significant breakthrough within the next two to three months or at a minimum to institute a more intensive and continuous process of negotiations between the Cyprus communities.” The second option reads: “If one or more of the parties do not want the U.S. involved or are unwilling to engage in a serious negotiation process, we should stand back until a more active U.S. role appears propitious while continuing to support any efforts the Secretary General and European Community can mount.”