131. Message From Foreign Secretary Macmillan to Secretary of State Dulles1

I expect you will have had a full report on the Tripartite Conference on Cyprus from your people here, with whom we have been in close touch. I deeply regret that we were not able to persuade the Greeks and the Turks to accept our proposals for a settlement, but I still hope that with time they will come round to accepting them as at least a basis for further discussion. In our desire to find a way out of this most unfortunate and dangerous dispute, we took an unprecedented step in agreeing to discuss with two foreign governments the internal affairs of an indisputably British territory. We also invited them to join with us in working out a system of self-government. This offer remains open. We are very grateful for the support which our efforts received through your Embassies in London, Athens and Ankara. Meanwhile, although we still await the official reply from Athens, the indications are that the Greek Government are determined to reject our proposals and to go ahead once more with their appeal to the United Nations. I am convinced that it could only make matters worse if the Greeks succeeded in getting the matter debated again in the United Nations. There is no hope that this would lead to a solution, while it is certain that the discussion would further inflame Greco-Turkish relations and increase the strain upon their co-operation in the North Atlantic alliance. It would certainly encourage further disorder and terrorism in Cyprus.

On the other hand, if the Cyprus item can be kept off the General Assembly’s agenda, there would be a chance for passions to cool, and progress to be resumed. For our part, we will continue to make it clear that the British proposals still stand; that we are prepared to consider amendments or counter-proposals; and that we intend to resume negotiations with the other two Governments as soon as conditions allow.

For these practical reasons and not simply because of Article 2(VII) of the Charter, we are bound to oppose the Greeks on the inscription of the item. I very much hope that you will take the same view. It is likely that the attitude of the United States Delegation towards inscription will be decisive. This dispute with [Page 293]Greece is a great sorrow to us in this country, who have such a long tradition of friendship with the Greek people. But we cannot lose sight of the fact that it is the internal exigencies of Greek politics which have inflamed the situation in and about Cyprus and that the trouble will go on so long as the Greeks continue to foment it. The only thing which will make them pause is a clear rebuff by a good majority at the United Nations. We assume that you will support us in any case on the substance of the question as you did last year. But in view of the really grave consequences which could so easily follow from debating Cyprus in the United Nations at the present time, when passions are running high, I do most sincerely hope that you will use your great influence to prevent the item from securing inscription.

  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204, Macmillan to Dulles Correspondence 1955–1959. Confidential. An attached note to Dulles from Macmillan reads:

    “I am sending you a message about Cyprus today. I do hope you will be able to help me. I hope you have had a good holiday.”