747C.00/9–2054: Telegram

No. 384
The United States Representative at the United Nations (Lodge) to the Department of State


Delga 2. Re Cyprus Deptel 157.1Dixon and Hopkinson (UK) called on me this morning to discuss Cyprus. Hopkinson opened the discussion by saying that he had come to New York to put the arguments in every possible way to keep Cyprus off the agenda. The British were very distressed that a rift in Anglo-Greek relations had occurred and the Greeks themselves realized that the matter had gone too far and would like to find a way to extricate themselves. The UK would like also to find such a device, but anything that might be done, short of rejecting the item on the agenda, raised the issue of British sovereignty which they could not allow to happen. The UK military staff were convinced that the only possible effective control for military installations in Cyprus came from complete sovereignty and administration in their hands. They had only to mention Suez to demonstrate that anything else was not good enough. They were, of course, prepared to give Cyprus self-government, but they could not admit the principle of self-determination in this case. Self-determination would mean that Cyprus could if it wished, not only join Greece, but establish an independent Communist island; in fact, if an election were held today, that would be the outcome. From the UN standpoint, an equally important point was that putting the Cyprus question on the agenda opened the door for any country to raise any question, even, for example, the question of a claim by Colombia to the Panama Canal Zone. It might, in fact, encourage the Turks to raise the question of the large Turkish minority in Western Thrace and Thrace’s annexation to Turkey, or for the Soviets to raise the question of the Kurds in Iran and Iraq and lay claim to those areas.

I pointed out that we had been given the impression the UK was resigned to having the matter on the agenda and that hence our abstention was not so disturbing.

[Page 714]

Hopkinson said they could not understand how such an impression had been created, that their position had been unchanged from the beginning, and Dixon pointed out that as things now looked, our vote might be the decisive factor in adopting the agenda. Very strong support had developed for the British position and even Krishna Menon had promised not to vote for inscription. Iraq, Liberia, Colombia and Pakistan had promised also, but they might be one vote shy in defeating the item. Dixon stated that frankly a lot also depended on the Scandinavian bloc, and Canada had not yet decided either.

I said that it would take a tremendous amount of education of the American public before we could vote against inscription and asked if there was anything the UK could do to save Greek face.2 Hopkinson said they had racked their brains and had not been able to think of anything. I also pointed out that voting against the Greeks could have a decisive effect on our coming Congressional elections in a number of crucial districts.

Dixon suggested that if we voted against inscription we might make a balanced statement bowing somewhat to Greek sentiment but referring to the importance and complications of NATO, the use the Communists would make of the dispute, and even saying that we hoped the UK and Greece would talk together to settle the question. I asked at this point whether the UK would in fact talk, and Dixon and Hopkinson admitted they would not. They said that Churchill was sending a message to the Secretary3 and they hoped to have a further talk with the Secretary and me tomorrow,4 since time was of the essence before the meeting of the general committee on Wednesday. I said that we would take up the question again and keep closely in touch with them.

I have the impression that rather than see the matter go on the agenda, they would reluctantly accept a decision to postpone adoption of the agenda, as outlined in Deptel 157. I feel we should wait [Page 715] to sound out the LA’s however, until the Secretary has been informed of latest developments tomorrow.

  1. Telegram 157, Sept. 18, authorized USUN to suggest that the United Kingdom explore with selected Latin American delegations the possibility of a vote for postponing the question of inscription of Cyprus on the agenda of the General Assembly, immediately after Greece and the United Kingdom stated their positions, with a view toward the British and the Cypriots working out matters between themselves. (747C.00/9–1554)
  2. Regarding efforts to find a way “to save Greek face,” a memorandum by Key to Lodge, Sept. 16, reads:

    “The Secretary was unable before his departure yesterday to reply personally to your telegram of September 13 in which you referred to a possible face-saving procedure for the Greeks in respect of Cyprus, suggested to you by Mr. [TomAnthony] Pappas [Greek-American businessman]. This same idea was raised privately with the Under Secretary about two weeks ago by Spyros Skouras (Motion-Picture Executive), who also was able to mention the matter directly to Churchill. The British Prime Minister flatly rejected the whole idea, and Mr. Eden sent us a personal message stating that the UK could not possibly make any public or private statement of the nature suggested since this could only be taken as yielding in the face of Greek pressure. Accordingly, that particular idea appears to offer no fruitful possibilities under present conditions.” (USUN files, Cyprus—1950–August 1955)

  3. Not further identified.
  4. A memorandum of this conversation by Cook is in file 747C.00/9–2154.