No. 363
Memorandum of Conversation, by the Deputy Directory of the Office of Greek, Turkish, and Iranian Affairs (Baxter)



  • Turkish Views on Cyprus


  • Mr. Feridun C. Erkin, Turkish Ambassador
  • Mr. Henry A. Byroade, Assistant Secretary, NEA
  • Mr. William O. Baxter, Deputy Director, GTI

Under instructions from his Government, the Turkish Ambassador called this afternoon to discuss the question of Cyprus in the light of the recent statement by the Greek Government that it intends to bring the matter up at the next UN General Assembly.1 [Page 682] He was not authorized to leave anything with the Department in writing, but showed Mr. Byroade a memorandum in which the Turkish views were rather fully expressed and which may be summarized as follows:

Although the question of the union of Cyprus with Greece has been a controversial one for many years, the Turkish Government has taken no note of it and has always attempted to play down any press agitation because the Enosis issue has never before been officially supported by the Greek Government. It has been the view of the Turkish Government that there was no reason for any change in the status quo, but it must now express its concern at the Greek Government’s announced intention of presenting this question in the UN.

It must be noted that many of the arguments in favor of Enosis are based on the wishes of the majority of the inhabitants and on national affinities. The Turkish Government wishes to point out that it is not international custom to decide questions of sovereignty solely on the basis of majority wishes of the population, but that there are also equally important geographical considerations which must be taken into account.

The present is not an opportune time for this question to be raised; nor is it right for Greece to state that it is forced into this move because of public opinion when at the same time the Greek Government is inciting public opinion in favor of Enosis instead of trying to counteract propaganda favoring Enosis. Any public airing of this issue will have a seriously adverse effect upon relationships in NATO and among the three countries which have recently signed the Ankara Pact. Only the Soviet Union stands to profit by such action. The possession of Cyprus would be of no advantage to Greece, nor is it of vital necessity to that country. It is only a matter of “domestic policy speculation.”

With regard to security, Cyprus is of far greater importance to Turkey than to Greece. The Turkish Government does not consider it a valid argument that Greece would be willing to make bases available to its allies following the annexation of Cyprus.

It is generally known that the communists and the Greek political parties are making use of this issue for their own selfish and shortsighted ends.

The Ambassador said that he wished to point out his personal opinion that the return of Mr. Kyrou to Athens is partly responsible for the more aggressive Greek policy on Cyprus. Mr. Kyrou, himself a Cypriot, was some years ago declared persona non grata by the British when he was Greek Consul in Nicosia and was forced to leave the Island. The Ambassador fears that Mr. Kyrou is using his position as Secretary General of the Greek Foreign Office to promote a personal policy that may get Greece so deeply involved that it cannot turn back.

Mr. Byroade said that we had in the past used our influence with the Greek Government in an effort to keep this question from [Page 683] being brought up in the UN, believing that it was a matter between Greece and Great Britain. The Department is now in the process of reevaluating its views in the light of the announced intention of the Greek Government to seek the inclusion of the Cyprus problem on the UN agenda.

  1. Reference is to a statement of Mar. 1 by Kyrou, reported in despatch 860, Mar. 17. (747C.00/3–1754)