Eastern Mediterranean Security

July 7, 1978

Report Outline
U.S. Dilemma in Southeast Europe
American Role in Area Security
U.S. Stake in Settling Dispute
Special Focus

U.S. Dilemma in Southeast Europe

Attempt to Repeal Turkish Arms Embargo

Greece and Turkey are in agreement on at least one issue: both countries are unhappy about American policy in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Carter administration's attempt to lift the three-and-a-half-year-old embargo against Turkey has brought this unhappiness to the fore. Greek Cypriots, Greeks and the Greek-American lobby view the effort to repeal the embargo as a betrayal of President Carter's campaign promises, an admission that another country can disregard American law with impunity and a hindrance to any fair settlement of the Cyprus conflict. Turks are critical of congressional opposition to the administration's proposal and angry at the administration for not lobbying harder for repeal.

Congress approved the embargo, over the strong objections of President Ford and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, after Turkey's use of U.S. weapons in its invasions of Cyprus in July and August 1974. The legislation, which went into effect on Feb. 5, 1975, stipulated that the embargo would not be lifted until “substantial progress toward agreement has been made regarding military forces in Cyprus” and the president certifies that Turkey is in compliance with U.S. laws. Turkey, claiming that it had acted only to protect Turkish Cypriots and prevent a Greek attempt to effect enosis (union) with Greece, retaliated the following July by closing U.S. bases in Turkey. The embargo was subsequently modified to allow Turkey to purchase up to $125 million worth of military equipment in fiscal years 1976 and 1977, and $175 million in fiscal 1978.

Turkey has resisted American efforts to link progress on Cyprus with repeal of the embargo or anything else. Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance's remarks to a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on March 9, coupling progress on the U.S.-Turkish Defense Cooperation Agreement with Cyprus, prompted an angry outburst from Turkey's Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit. The deterioration of American-Turkish relations and the impact on North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) capabilities apparently persuaded the Carter administration to ask Congress for a lifting of the embargo without linking repeal to progress on Cyprus.

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