8. Report by the President’s Personal Emissary to Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus (Clifford) to President Carter1
The mission you assigned to me and my associates has proved to be a fascinating one and we are gratified that progress was made in the various areas of concern that the United States has felt over developments in the Eastern Mediterranean.
There was assigned to me an unusually able and experienced staff. Messrs. Nimetz, Ledsky, Treverton and Hopper made an invaluable contribution to the mission. We had team strategy sessions before going to each country and reached agreement as to the proper approach to be employed. The United States Ambassadors and their staffs in the countries we visited also made important contributions to our efforts and fully participated in our discussions.
In analyzing the conversation that you and I had, plus the briefings that I received at the State Department and from the National Security Council, I felt that you had given me four assignments:
1. Gather the facts regarding the problems of the Eastern Mediterranean and get the attitudes of the various leaders of Greece, Turkey and Cyprus.
2. Begin making a preliminary effort to lessen tensions that exist between Greece and Turkey over the Aegean.
3. Search for ways to improve the bilateral relationships that exist between the United States and Greece and the United States and Turkey.
4. Ascertain what contribution, if any, the United States could make toward obtaining progress in the solution of the bitter dispute in Cyprus.
In an assignment of this kind, my experience leads me to believe that one of the first orders of business is to ascertain where the pressure points are. What leverage do we have on the various parties that we can properly utilize to pursuade them to make a contribution toward peace in the area? To illustrate: it was already clear before we left Washington that if the question of the settlement of the Cyprus question were left solely to the two Cypriot communities, there was virtually no chance [Page 25] that progress would be made. For two and a half years the parties have scarcely been talking. United Nations machinery has been ineffective in getting the parties to negotiate seriously. Some new effort was clearly needed.
I shall now address myself to the four assignments that you gave us.
1. Gather the facts and obtain the attitudes of the leaders. We have learned a great deal about the area. Our meetings in the various countries were with the heads of government and their senior advisers, as well as with Secretary General Waldheim. In each country we visited, I held several private conversations with the national leader, and as a team we held lengthy substantive discussions on major issues of concern with the foreign ministers, defense ministers and senior officials. As personal relationships were developed, the talks became franker and more forthright. By the time we left each country we had a clear picture of the attitude of each government and the personalities of the men who were involved. We not only directed our inquiries to the governments now in office, but in each instance had excellent meetings with opposition leaders. This resulted in the acquisition of much valuable information that will be useful to us in the future. Appended to this report is a chronology of our meetings and general summary reports of our discussions in each country we visited. We have also attached memoranda of conversations prepared with respect to certain particularly important meetings.
2. Make an effort to lessen the tension in the Aegean. I believe we all received the clear impression that the dispute between Greece and Turkey in the Aegean could result in an incident leading to confrontation or even war. Prime Minister Caramanlis lectured us with intense feeling on his perception of Turkish expansionism in the Aegean. The controversies between Greece and Turkey center upon the following: (a) questions regarding the continental shelf in the Aegean; (b) the air control zone over the Aegean; (c) the boundaries of territorial waters; (d) militarization of certain Greek islands contrary to treaty obligations; and (e) the creation of a Turkish amphibious military force along the Aegean coast.
We noted with care Prime Minister Caramanlis’ points and presented them to the Turkish Government. Turkish officials went to great length to explain the Turkish position in each instance and argued vehemently that Turkey was not expansionist.
I believe that this discussion had a number of benefits. It acquainted Turkey with the intensity of Caramanlis’ feeling about these Aegean problems. It may persuade both sides to negotiate more seriously during the forthcoming round of continental shelf talks in Paris. The expression of our deep concern about possible incidents may re[Page 26]duce the risk of unilateral research operations by Turkey in sensitive disputed areas of the Aegean, but it should be noted that we received no assurance in this regard. Turkey has been made aware of our deep concern about difficulties in the Aegean and of our opinion that hostilities between the two countries would mean an immediate cessation of US arms flow to the area. We should build upon this understanding in Turkey to discuss the Aegean issues more forthrightly with the Greek Government with a view to encouraging substantive negotiations and avoiding unfortunate incidents.
3. Improve bilateral relationships between United States and Greece and United States and Turkey. The delivery of personal letters from you to the leaders of Greece, Turkey and Cyprus was well received and provided an opening toward better relations.2 The appointment of Secretary Vance was particularly well received in the area, as was the knowledge that the new United States Administration was reviewing its policies in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Lengthy and valuable conversations were held on a range of bilateral issues. Both Greece and Turkey are dissatisfied with their relationships with the United States and we gave them full opportunity to air all their grievances. There is now a better understanding on the part of these nations regarding the attitude of the United States.
For a considerable period of time the Greeks have taken a relaxed attitude toward resuming negotiations regarding the US-Greek Defense Cooperation Agreement. During our discussions we pressed them to set a date for resumption of the talks. On the last day of our stay in Athens, the Foreign Minister informed us that he had been instructed by Caramanlis to say that by the middle of March the Greeks would have a team ready to negotiate. In our discussions with the Greeks about their NATO relationship, we obtained their fundamental support for a gradual reintegration in NATO’s military wing, but we believe this will proceed slowly until the Cyprus and Aegean issues are closer to solution.
We discussed United States-Turkish bilateral relations at some length in Ankara, and we believe the Turkish leaders now understand as never before that improved relations depend on movement in Cyprus. However, we emphasized, publicly and privately, our desire [Page 27] to restore close relations and the importance we attach to Turkey’s contribution to NATO. We were heartened that these feelings were reciprocated, and that we did not hear any threats that Turkey was considering leaving NATO or taking an anti-Western attitude.
4. Ascertain what contribution, if any, the United States could make to getting progress in the solution of the bitter dispute in Cyprus. This is the toughest nut of them all to crack. The parties operate within a framework of a long history of bitterness, recrimination and intercommunal violence. We all recognized that this was the problem that would take the greatest efforts if any concrete commitments were to be obtained.
Our strategy began in Turkey. We informed the Turks flatly that there was no chance that the United States Congress would pass a Defense Cooperation Agreement with the Turkish Government until substantial continuing progress was made in Cyprus. The Turks repeated their long-standing objection to linking the defense agreement with Cyprus and said that they felt they had been treated very unfairly by the United States Congress and in fact had been humiliated by the imposition of the embargo. They believe they have a strong legal case and a strong moral case for their intervention in Cyprus. As the talks progressed, however, they became more realistic. The Turks were finally convinced that it did them no good to rail at the Congress, but that if they wished to improve their position with the United States in the defense field, they would have to make a substantial contribution to the solution of the Cyprus question.
Late on the last day of our visit in Ankara, the Foreign Minister informed us that, after intense deliberations, his government would give us its commitment that the Turkish Cypriot negotiator would place upon the table, at the March 31 Vienna intercommunal talks, a concrete and reasonable proposal for the constitutional structure of a new government in Cyprus. They also agreed to serious and sustained negotiations in the future.
We consider this Turkish commitment to be an important step forward. The parties have talked intermittently at each other for some time but each has refused to make written proposals or to talk seriously about substance. We made no reciprocal United States commitment in response to this decision other than to say that the Turkish action would have a favorable impact upon our policy review, and that we would seek to obtain a reciprocal territorial proposal from Archbishop Makarios.
After this forward step in Ankara, we proceeded to Cyprus for conferences with Archbishop Makarios and the Turkish leader, Mr. Denktash. I had two lengthy visits with Archbishop Makarios. Our team decided on the strategy that Makarios must be told that United States interest in Cyprus, while at the present time at a high level, is [Page 28] fairly certain to decline. Makarios was told that if a settlement in Cyprus was not reached during this year, he could expect the United States interest to decline to the point where his bargaining posture would deteriorate substantially. In addition, we told Makarios that our concern over our bilateral relationship with Turkey and the condition of the NATO alliance was such that we could not endanger those relationships much longer by using whatever leverage we had to obtain the cooperation of other nations in working toward a settlement in Cyprus. Noting the great importance of the territorial issue to the Greek Cypriots, we suggested that the most valuable contribution that Makarios could make would be for him to agree to place upon the table a specific proposal covering the division of territory.
The impact of this argument on Makarios was profound. At our second meeting, he was more forthcoming and stated that he had reached the decision to place upon the table in Vienna on March 31 a map which would recognize the principle of bizonality (a concession he has never before made directly to the Turks), and would provide for a 20% Turkish zone. Such a proposal would form the basis of the negotiations over the territorial division in a federal state between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Furthermore, Makarios and his Foreign Minister promised to engage in sustained negotiations and indicated they would welcome continued help from the United States.
The conference with the Turkish Cypriot leader, Mr. Denktash, was the most difficult of all because he resented the pressure toward a settlement he was receiving from the Turks and further resented the fact that there was nothing he could do about it. However, Denktash and his Turkish Cypriot associates did confirm that they would present a written constitutional proposal in Vienna. In addition, Denktash did agree that serious and sustained negotiations would be undertaken.
The negotiations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots will continue to take place under United Nations auspices, and we assured Secretary General Waldheim that our involvement was in no way in competition with his prominent role. Waldheim, however, is eager for our assistance and support. Now that the parties are committed to submit concrete, responsible proposals (the Turks on constitutional arrangements and the Greeks on territorial division) and to negotiate responsibly, a supportive role in encouraging further progress seems appropriate for the United States.
A supportive role for the British and perhaps other European powers may also be helpful at an appropriate time. We discussed the Cyprus part of our mission in detail with Foreign Minister Owen in London at the conclusion of our travels. The British are guarantors, along with Greece and Turkey, of the 1960 Cyprus constitution and also retain two sovereign base areas on the island which we believe to be of [Page 29] great value to the United States and Western Europe and to the present delicate stability of Cyprus.3 The British may discuss these base areas with you during Prime Minister Callaghan’s visit next week, for they have been seeking to reduce their commitments on Cyprus. This concerns us. Both the Turkish leaders and Makarios explicitly requested that the other Europeans not be brought into the detailed Cyprus negotiations at this time, and we have honored their request in our discussions with the British.
No one can guarantee that once the negotiations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots actually begin in Vienna, the parties will act in good faith. Each has, however, been given the clear impression that if the proposal each presents is merely formal, or is plainly unreasonable, and if substantive negotiations do not ensue, that fact will not be lost upon us.
The only way that Makarios and Denktash can reach agreement will be under the continued leverage that has now been introduced and that must be continued, certainly during the balance of this year. We believe that this leverage can be successful because both the Turkish and the Cypriot leaders now understand that they have more to gain from making a serious effort to seek a solution through the creation of a unitary, bizonal, federal state on Cyprus then to remain intransigent and inflexible and risk United States displeasure.
The interest displayed by the President of the United States in the Eastern Mediterranean, in itself, has had a profound impact upon the area. Everyone took note of the fact that you chose in the first month of your new term to give such important attention to the problems of that area and that you were seriously reviewing United States policies in the region. The nations involved would like to establish a good working relationship with the new Administration, and we emphasized the fact that the next eight-year period of the Carter Administration would be extremely critical for their political, military and economic interests.
We have a delicate task in the future to relax certain restrictions regarding Turkey, to strengthen relationships with Greece without incurring Turkish displeasure, and at the same time to maintain sufficient leverage to obtain their continued interest in assisting in the settlement of the Cyprus question. We believe that this task is well worth undertaking to further the important interests of the United States in strengthening the southern flank of NATO, in restoring solid relation[Page 30]ships with two old friends and in resolving a problem of great humanitarian concern on Cyprus.
On the basis of the facts we have gathered, the efforts we have made, and the progress already achieved in improving United States relations with the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean, we believe that our policies in the months ahead should be directed toward the following ends:
1. Given the importance we attach to NATO, the rebuilding of its Southeastern flank, and our own bilateral security relationship with Turkey, as well as the positive attitude we encountered in Ankara, we recommend that at an early date the Administration endorse in principle the United States-Turkish Defense Cooperation Agreement which has already been submitted to Congress. This endorsement should be coupled, however, with an indication that the Administration will not press for Congressional approval of this agreement at this time. It would be understood that the Administration would take an active role in seeking enactment of the DCA only after substantial progress has been made toward achieving a Cyprus settlement, which we believe can occur in 1977.
2. We recommend, as an interim measure, that you request Congress to enact legislation for FY 1978 that will permit foreign military sales to Turkey, as well as FMS financing of $175 million, through credits or guaranties. This recommendation to Congress could be coupled with a request to selected NATO allies that they provide additional military equipment which Turkey needs to fulfill NATO commitments. We believe this positive approach to Turkish military needs would be appreciated in Ankara, but would not be seen in Greece or Cyprus as inimical to their interests.
3. We strongly believe that the United States must continue to play an active role in the Cyprus negotiating process. This role should be supportive of United Nations Secretary General Waldheim, and closely coordinated with our principal European allies.
4. Especially with respect to Cyprus, we consider it important that between now and the resumption of intercommunal negotiations in Vienna on March 31, our efforts be directed to ensuring that Greek Cypriot proposals on territory, and Turkish Cypriot proposals on a future Cyprus constitution, be sufficiently realistic and constructive as to form the basis for sustained negotiations. Assistance to the parties might also be necessary in connection with the meetings, so as to avoid the procedural breakdowns that have occurred in the past. We should maintain a supportive role with the parties to the intercommunal talks, to encourage a sustained negotiating tempo. This will probably entail [Page 31] maintaining effective leverage on Turkey, Cyprus and Greece to make the reasonable concessions and accommodations that will be essential.
5. Further with respect to Cyprus, we recommend that you ask the Congress to appropriate assistance funds to be made available once the two Cypriot communities reach a settlement. The funds would be designed for reconstruction and development of the island and would be apportioned on a fair basis so that both the Greek and Turkish zones would benefit.
6. A strong effort should be made to persuade the British to retain their two important sovereign base areas on Cyprus. As a last resort, some United States financial support for these bases may be necessary, but we need not decide upon any such arrangement before consultations with the British on this subject are held. Prime Minister Callaghan will very likely have a request in this regard when he talks with you in Washington next week.
7. With respect to Greece, we believe it is important to resume talks as soon as possible to conclude a United States-Greek Defense Cooperation Agreement. We must anticipate, however, that the Greek Government may move slowly since it has little incentive to conclude the agreement until it is convinced that your Administration will recommend Congressional approval of the United States-Turkish Defense Cooperation Agreement.
8. To preserve and rebuild the Southeastern flank of NATO, we recommend continuing to work for the reintroduction of Greece into the military wing of NATO as early as possible. We should pursue this goal through the alliance structure and with our individual NATO partners.
9. The Aegean controversy between Greece and Turkey is potentially the most explosive dispute in the Eastern Mediterranean. We do not believe that our Government’s own views on the complex underlying issues are as yet clearly formed. Accordingly, we propose that a comprehensive study of Aegean issues be undertaken under the leadership of the Secretary of State and that once firm conclusions are rendered, both Greece and Turkey be counseled as to our conclusions and asked whether we might be of further assistance in resolving Aegean difficulties. Until this study is completed, we recommend that the United States steer an even-handed course and refrain from giving the Greek Government the type of written security guarantee that it is seeking from us. Instead, we should continue to tell both the Greeks and the Turks of our strong desire that these complex issues be resolved by substantive negotiation between them or by mutually agreed upon third-party procedures.
I wish to express my gratitude to the President for this opportunity to serve in this important area of international concern.[Page 32]
We remain available to be of assistance in any manner in which the President should desire.
- Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 9, Cyprus: 1977. Secret. Clifford’s mission to the Eastern Mediterranean was from February 15 to March 1, which included a visit to London February 27–March 1. Clifford discussed the report with President Carter on March 4; see Document 10.↩
- Carter sent letters on February 15 to Fahri Korutürk, President of the Republic of Turkey; Constantine Tsatsos, President of the Hellenic Republic; and Archbishop Makarios III, President of the Republic of Cyprus. In each letter, Carter expressed his appreciation for the good wishes he received from the leaders’ respective countries, and cast the Clifford mission as a way to reduce tensions. The text of the three letters is in telegram 35392 to Athens, Ankara, and Nicosia, February 16. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770055–1157) He also sent letters to Karamanlis and Demirel. See Document 87.↩
- The Governments of Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom signed an agreement on February 19, 1959, in London which, among other provisions, gave each country guarantor status to ensure the independence and territorial integrity of Cyprus. (Department of State Bulletin, March 16, 1959, pp. 367–368) The Cypriot constitution was agreed on in Zurich on February 11, 1960, leading to Cypriot independence on August 16, 1960. The United Kingdom retained sovereignty over two military bases on the island.↩
- Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.↩
- Secret; Nodis.↩
- See footnote 5, Document 164.↩
- The letter was signed by President Ford and sent through Kissinger to Athens on April 9. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XXX, Greece; Cyprus; Turkey, 1973–1976, Document 63.↩
- Secret. The report is marked both Nodis and Exdis. See also Document 88.↩
- The Sismik was a Turkish oil exploration vessel operating in the Aegean in 1976. Greece considered the presence of the Sismik a provocation and threatened to deploy its navy to intercept the ship. News reports quoted Turkish Prime Minister Demirel as responding, “Interception of the Sismik will be an act of piracy. Short work is made of pirates.” (“The Aegean: Acts of Piracy?,” Time, August 23, 1976)↩
- Secret; Nodis. See also Document 32.↩