747C.00/8–2653: Telegram

No. 358
The Chargé in Greece (Yost) to the Department of State1

top secret

614. Foreign Minister has requested United States assistance in dissuading Archbishop Makarios from bringing Cyprus question before United Nations General Assembly.

Stephanopoulos declared that Marshal Papagos, while he has endeavored hitherto to play down Cyprus issue, is becoming more and more concerned, on basis of recent reports, over situation there which Stephanopoulos qualified as “oppression” and “slavery”. Papagos feels that only method of dealing with problem which has any possibility of success is direct and secret negotiation with British. He proposes during forthcoming Eden visit to Greece to approach British Foreign Minister on personal man-to-man basis alleging that démarche is unknown even to his own Cabinet. He intends to propose that British immediately grant to Cypriots constitution which would accord them certain rights of self-government and which would be followed in two or three years by plebiscite in which Cypriots would be given a choice between independence, incorporation into Greece or some status within commonwealth. For reasons Foreign Minister did not make completely clear he has some hope British might accept this proposal. He believes, however, that under present circumstances Cypriots would not do so.

Some time ago Kyrou approached Makarios, urged him to abandon appeal to UN on grounds that without US support it would merely invite failure and work to profit of Soviets, and confided that Greek Government contemplated high level approach to British. Makarios rejected Kyrou’s plea and has since leaked to Cypriot press intimation that high level conversations are being contemplated, thus jeopardizing prospects of their success.

Stephanopoulos fears that, if Makarios goes ahead with appeal lacking support of Greek Government, he may publicly accuse Papagos of betrayal Cypriots, which would have most serious affect upon position Papagos Government in Greece. On other hand if Greek Government should support appeal, negotiation with British would be impossible and probable failure of appeal would undermine confidence of Greek people in UN. This would be particularly unfortunate at time when government is increasing Greek forces in Korea.

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He therefore urgently requests that US endeavor to persuade Makarios to drop his appeal “for the time being” on the grounds that time is not ripe, that appeal would fail under present circumstances and that Communists in United Nations and in Cyprus would profit from this failure.

We would recommend that Department accede to Foreign Minister’s request. Whether or not it is likely one of Soviet bloc might sponsor Makarios complaint, it would seem to be in interests of United States as well as of Papagos Government and British that Cyprus question not be raised in any form before United Nations at this time. While we do not share Stephanopoulos optimism about Eden’s reaction to Papagos proposal, it would still seem that confidential bilateral conversations offer best prospect of progress on this problem. It appears likely that, unless Makarios can be restrained, Papagos may feel that his posture as Paladin of Greek nationalism obliges him to take over leadership of this campaign. Certainly there are few issues on which the opposition could cause more embarrassment to government than that of “betrayal of Cyprus”.

Foreign Minister would appreciate prompt response so that Papagos might be informed of our position before he speaks with Eden who arrives in Greece August 30.

  1. Repeated for information to London and Nicosia.