183. Letter From Prime Minister Eden to President Eisenhower1

Dear Friend: Thank you so much for your message about Cyprus.2 I feel distressed that you should have been inflicted with this at this time.

Harding is making good progress in restoring law and order, but he has told us that if he is to get a constitution working, the issue of self determination must in some way be put into cold storage. Hence the period of years and a submission to NATO on certain conditions at the end of it.

You will have heard that the initial Turkish reaction to our proposals was sharp and tough.3 Although it was more violent than I expected, I am not entirely surprised. The Greeks are good talkers, the Turks are not. But they have a habit of boiling slowly inside. When the lid of the kettle finally blows off, it can be very unpleasant for anyone nearby. Our Ambassador has warned us of the danger of a serious crisis in Anglo-Turkish relations.

All this is troublesome to us because we certainly need the Turks both for the Baghdad Pact and for NATO. Indeed I am sure that you will agree that if anyone holds a strategic position it is they.

However we have done all we can to put arguments for our proposals to them and expect to have their considered reply in a day or two. It may be that they will produce some suggestions of their own.

Meanwhile I do not propose to make any kind of public statement, difficult as it will be to refuse our Parliament any information.

It was because I am sure that we will never get this matter solved without agreement on military matters that we introduced the conception of a Tripartite Treaty. I do not think that there is anything very new in this.

Our formula has much to recommend it to the Greeks. No doubt they will always ask for more. But, all else apart, I am sure [Page 378] that we cannot go further in placating them without disaster in our relations with the Turks.

The best news of all is of your improving health. It gladdens the hearts of millions here, and especially,

Yours ever,

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, International File. Top Secret. Transmitted under cover of a note from Makins to Eisenhower, June 26. A notation on the source text in an unidentified hand reads: “State will handle any reply on diplomatic level”.
  2. Document 181.
  3. In telegram 2169 from Ankara, June 22, the Embassy transmitted the preliminary reaction of Foreign Ministry Secretary General Birgi to the British proposals. (Department of State, Central Files, 747C.00/6–2256)