No. 368
Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Merchant) to the Assistant Secretary of State for United Nations Affairs (Key)1



  • Cyprus.

I refer to your memorandum of May 112 regarding the possibility of referring the Cyprus question to the North Atlantic Council in order to avoid the possible disruptive effects of a discussion of the problem in the UN General Assembly next September.

We had not, prior to receipt of your memorandum, given consideration to referring this question to the NAC. No NATO member has suggested such a move, and furthermore the NAC has never before, to my knowledge, been called upon to consider problems of this nature (i.e. a territorial dispute between two of its members). In fact the major emphasis in NATO to date has been upon the military alliance and we have deliberately avoided Council discussion of certain issues (e.g. Trieste) in order to avoid any possible break in the all-important NATO solidarity. Political consultation is an important function of the NAC, but matters involved in this consultation procedure are matters of common interest to NATO raised with a view to presenting a unified front to problems facing the NATO area as a whole.

It is true Article 1 of the North Atlantic Treaty states that the parties undertake “to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered. …”3 This, however, we look upon as a statement of general principle, intended to reconcile this regional arrangement with obligations assumed under the UN Charter.4 It does not establish a substitute for the UN Charter and its provisions for settlements of disputes. Neither the NAT nor any subsequent agreement of the parties establish any machinery for the collective handling of disputes between NATO partners.

[Page 689]

Even if one were to assume the problem was an appropriate one for the NAC, there still remains the question of advisability. Thus far, there has been no indication that the Enosis problem has affected UK–Greek cooperation in NATO. We believe, on the other hand, there may be a danger that such cooperation would, in fact, be affected if the Enosis problem were now to be brought to the NAC. (Incidentally, I presume you are aware that Cyprus was specifically excepted from the NATO area by the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty).5

It is pertinent, of course, to estimate the probability of accomplishing something worthwhile in the Enosis case in the event of its being submitted to the NAC. First of all, the matter should not be put before the NAC without the approval of both parties to the dispute. The UK has refused to discuss the matter bilaterally with Greece. It is reasonable to assume the UK would not approve consideration by the Council if the UK expected the Council to find in favor of Greece. Greece on the other hand might well oppose submission to the NAC, on the assumption that the colonial powers in NATO would side with the UK. A defeat of Greece, express or implied, on this issue in the NAC could not help but make NATO still another target for blame by the Greek people. Both BNA and GTI agree that neither side is likely to change its position in this dispute without strong pressure from some source. The NAC is not in a position to assert such pressure.

Probably the most that could be achieved by way of Council action would be a recommendation that the two countries settle the matter bilaterally (which the British would resent) or that Greece drop its claims temporarily in view of the exigencies of the present world situation (which the Greek people would resent). Even if only a statement by Greece followed by a UK statement in the NAC were considered sufficient, there would be certain difficulties. In order to have assurance that other delegations, for example Turkey, would not also speak and set off a general discussion with risks of dissension within the Council, it would be necessary to contact all delegations in advance and “rig” the discussion. RA doubts the advisability of employing this device, which is rare in the NAC, for this purpose.

In summary, EUR is unable to foresee any solution to the Enosis problem in the North Atlantic Council. On the other hand, we foresee possible damage to NATO solidarity if the dispute should be submitted to the NAC in an attempt to find a solution or to give [Page 690] the parties an opportunity to state their respective positions. I feel very strongly that the various strains under which NATO is already operating at the present time make it extremely inadvisable to submit a problem such as Enosis to the NAC.

I might point out in this connection that reports indicate this problem has been very recently discussed in the Council of Europe. We are waiting official reports from the Consulate at Strasbourg6 and will revert to this subject after these reports have been received and examined.

by WB
EURLivingston Merchant
  1. Attached to the source text is a handwritten note by Popper: “Mr. Key: We expected this kind of answer. It will be helpful to us when we get complaints about how useless or harmful GA discussion of Enosis may be.”
  2. Not found in Department of State files.
  3. Ellipsis in the source text. For text, see TIAS No. 1964; 63 Stat. (pt. 2) 2241; or United Nations Treaty Series (UNTS), vol. 34, p. 243.
  4. For text, see Department of State Treaty Series (TS) No. 993, or 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1031.
  5. At this point appears a handwritten note by Popper: “Only from the area in which the obligations of automatic defense exist—not from area about which there may be consultation.”
  6. Telegram 7713 from Strasbourg, Sept. 18, reported that Stamatios Mercouris, a Greek Representative to the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe, announced in the general political debate the intention to bring up the Cyprus question in the near future. (747C.00/9–1854) No further reports on it from Strasbourg have been found in Department of State files.