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92. Memorandum From Secretary of State Vance to President Carter 1

SUBJECT

  • Security Assistance for Turkey

We have held up submitting proposals to the Congress concerning our security assistance relationship with Turkey pending a full evaluation of Clark Clifford’s recommendations and an assessment of the Cyprus talks in Vienna. The results of those talks are now in hand. The Turks did fulfill their promise to Clifford to put a constitutional proposal for Cyprus on the table, but the contents of that document were disappointing as was the Turkish Cypriot response to the Greek Cypriot territorial proposal. As a consequence the negotiating round in Vienna, though far from a failure, went less well than we had hoped.

Given Congressional appreciation of this fact, the continuing inclination in Congress to link the level of security assistance to Turkey with progress on Cyprus, and the need to let the Turks know that we expect them to be more forthcoming in the Cyprus negotiations, I believe, and Clark Clifford agrees, that we should cut back somewhat on Clifford’s previous recommendations.

It is important, however, that our proposals (a) demonstrate the importance of our alliance relationship, and give the Turks increased capacity to meet their NATO commitments, (b) signal our dissatisfaction with the minimal performance of the Turkish Cypriots in Vienna, yet (c) give the Turks a sufficient level of assistance to provide an incentive for further cooperation in the search for a negotiated Cyprus solution.

I would accordingly propose that we move as follows with respect to Turkey:

1. Endorse in principle the U.S.-Turkish Defense Cooperation Agreement of March 1976, but not press for Congressional approval at this time. This is exactly in line with Clifford’s previous recommendation.

2. Recommend to Congress Foreign Military Sales financing for Turkey for FY 1978 of up to $160 million. This is $15 million less than [Page 297]the original Clifford recommendation but $35 million more than in 1977. The Turks will be dissatisfied with the reduction from Clifford’s recommendation but will not seriously object. The reduction may help to convince some in Congress to accept the entire package.

3. Seek a modification of the current ceiling on Foreign Military Sales transactions with Turkey so that, in addition to sales up to the $160 million financing level discussed in the previous paragraph, Turkey could also finish procurement of forty F–4 aircraft for which two contracts have already been signed. This relaxation is much less than Clark Clifford originally recommended. All other restrictions on Turkey contained in existing legislation would continue in effect.

I plan to outline this program in the next few days to the leadership of Congress and to those particularly concerned with Cyprus, Greece and Turkey. Formal testimony on the Turkish assistance package will begin before subcommittees of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House International Relations Committees on April 21 at which we will support the Greek security assistance package of $175 million for FY 1978 ($35 million in grant aid and $140 million in financing authority).2

We will seek to work with Congressional leaders so as to avoid any fight on the Turkish assistance program. The compromise package outlined above should satisfy most members of Congress. At the same time, it is important to be aware that those most closely associated with Greece in the Congress may find a program which gives any assistance to Turkey unacceptable. We thus may face a fight, but if we do, I believe we can win as our position is justifiably moderate and in the country’s and NATO’s long-term interest. Clark Clifford is prepared to be helpful in supporting our recommendations in the Congress.

This program is the minimum necessary to assist Turkey with its security needs and to preserve Turkish cooperation in the future, as well as to encourage further movement toward a Cyprus settlement once the Turkish elections of June 5 are out of the way.

Attached at Tab 1 is the statement we will use on security assistance to Turkey and Greece next week.3 At Tab 2 is the draft legislation we intend to submit to Congress on behalf of the Administration reflecting the above program.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 26, Greece: 1/77–4/78. Confidential. In an April 18 covering note to Vance, Brzezinski wrote: “The President has approved the proposals in your memorandum of April 15 but with the restoration of FMS for Turkey, $175 million. This same amount is for Greece.”
  2. Nimetz testified before the Subcommittee on Foreign Assistance of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. For Nimetz’s testimony, see Congressional Record, April 21, 1977, pp. 275–319.
  3. Tabs 1 and 2 are attached but not printed.