Redefining an Alliance: Greek-US relations, 1974-1980
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In 1974 following the Cyprus Crisis, the bilateral alliance between Greece and the United States entered a new period. The bilateral relations, traditionally close since the emergence of the Cold War, faced a set of challenges. Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus and the collapse of the Greek dictatorship, which enjoyed close ties with Washington, gave rise to anti-Americanism in Greek society. Moreover, Washington’s inability to contain Turkish aggression frustrated the Greek government. In response to the invasion of Cyprus, Athens announced Greece’s withdrawal from NATO with the hope of securing the active involvement of the US and NATO in the Greek-Turkish dispute. These developments required readjustments to Greek-US policies and strategies to overcome obstacles and secure their objectives. Greece’s withdrawal from and return to NATO after six years, in October 1980, symbolises best this distinct period of Greek-US cooperation. The traditional historical narrative states that after 1974 the priorities of successive Greek governments were increasingly directed at managing the country’s accession to European Economic Community while developing closer cooperation with the Balkan states. The United States remained another significant ally of Greece. This thesis emphasises that the Greek governments between 1974 and 1980 regarded the United States as the single most important ally for the Greek national security policy. The Greek governments realised that only Washington could assist Greece with both Soviet and Turkish threats. Washington, meanwhile, prioritised retaining close ties with both Greece and Turkey and an eventual re-build of NATO’s Southern Flank. What is significant is that President Carter put aside his idealistic declarations made on the campaign trail and adopted fully Ford/Kissinger’s approach toward Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus, i.e. the Eastern Mediterranean. Hence, the thesis underlines the element of continuity between the US administrations in the second half of 1970s. The thesis makes a significant contribution to Cold War scholarship regarding bilateral relations within the West during the era of détente. Scholars has largely overlooked the US’s relationships with Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus even though the Eastern Mediterranean region dominated the foreign policy agendas of both Ford and Carter administrations. This study argues that President Ford’s handling of relations with Greece was focused on crisis management rather than crisis solving. More significantly, although unrecognised at the time, President Carter’s relations with Greece were a significant success. Ford and Carter responded to the Eastern Mediterranean questions in ways that reflect significant continuities in their approaches. Ford and his Secretary of State Henry Kissinger developed the concept of a ‘balanced approach’ towards Athens and Ankara in political, economic, and military terms that aimed at ensuring close ties with both. Carter followed the same policy concept. Carter succeeded in seeing Greece’s return to full NATO membership while resisting being dragged into the centre of Greek-NATO negotiations. During these years the Greek government also scored significant successes. Greek pressure ensured that Washington devoted equal attention to Greece and Turkey, a much more powerful regional power. Similarly, Greece received significant US economic aid while Turkey faced a strict US arms embargo. By 1980, however, the implications of the Iranian Revolution and the end of détente mandated that Turkey had to take precedence over Greece in the US’s policy considerations.