117. Memorandum of a Conversation Between Secretary of State Dulles and the Greek Ambassador (Melas), Department of State, Washington, May 25, 19551
Ambassador Melas spoke of the landing of the Greek airmen on Cyprus and of the treatment they received from the British authorities. Without stressing the incident, he indicated that the British would not have acted as they did unless they had general U.S. support on the Cyprus question. As a result of Greek reaction his Government had had to cancel the visit of the British fleet scheduled for June 2.[Page 272]
On the overall Cyprus question the Greeks were exasperated because the U.K. had not given them the island as promised in the past and because of incidents such as the above. However the main source of dissatisfaction was the belief that the U.S. supported the U.K. This was causing a very serious situation in Greece and would affect Greece’s support of U.S. policies. The Ambassador believed our position was due to U.K. and French pressure and doubted if it reflected our real feelings. He quoted the President as having told him he was surprised that the U.K. had not found a solution to the problem.2 The Ambassador spoke sincerely of his admiration for the U.S. and of his belief that with the formation of Western Union, America’s freedom of action had been increased. Only the U.S. could do something constructive about Cyprus. He said Greece did not necessarily want public debate and desired to be reasonable. This was a question on which it would be easy for the U.S. to be on the right side.
The Secretary replied that we had sincere friendships for both Greece and the U.K. and that we do not act arbitrarily. We act from one dominant motive: our desire to keep the Free World free and strong. Greece knows this from the time when she was in danger. It is not easy to keep a coalition of free states together. Our actions are not due to favoritism. It is incorrect to assume that our actions are dictated by the U.K. Some things go on beneath the surface.
The Secretary emphasized two points:
- We pay careful and sympathetic heed to what has been said.
- Our action will be based on what we think is the best way to meet the overriding peril of our time.
We sympathize with the aspirations of those wanting self-determination. We appeal to Greece to keep this matter within reasonable bounds.