185. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, July 13, 19561

SUBJECT

  • Cyprus

PARTICIPANTS

  • Sir Roger Makins, British Ambassador
  • Miss Barbara Salt, Counselor, British Embassy
  • The Secretary
  • Douglas MacArthur II, Counselor
  • George V. Allen, Assistant Secretary, NEA
  • William O. Baxter, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary, NEA
  • William C. Burdett, Acting Director, NE

When the British Ambassador called this afternoon he said he would like first to bring the Secretary up to date on the latest Cyprus developments. The British Government had felt that it must try some new initiative in this matter and had worked out a plan which it had hoped would be acceptable to Turkey. The British Government would have liked United States support for its proposals with the Turks and eventually with the Greeks. The Ambassador wished the Secretary to know that all available arguments had been used with the Turks to obtain their acceptance but without success. The British had often thought the United States under-estimated the depth of Turkish feeling on Cyprus, but the Turkish reaction had been so strong that it appeared even the British may have been guilty of the same fault. The Turkish response to the proposals, though courteous, was exceedingly strong. In fact, they put the blunt question as to whether it was British policy to abandon Cyprus.

When it was apparent no progress could be made along these lines, the British Government had reluctantly decided to abandon this attempt. Finally Mr. Eden made this position clear yesterday in Parliament and at the same time announced the British intention of moving ahead with the drafting of a constitution and the immediate [Page 380]dispatch of Lord Radcliffe to Cyprus for preliminary soundings.2 This move involved a calculated risk because it was embarked upon without awaiting the complete cessation of terrorist activities and might be interpreted as a weakening of British policy with respect to Cyprus. HMG hoped to find some support from the United States in this new move.

The Secretary said that he would be prepared to give support to what appeared to be a sound and constructive step forward. He was sorry that we had not been able to support the previous proposals with the Turks but he doubted whether, even with United States support, the Turks could have been persuaded to agree. The Ambassador knew, the Secretary said, of our reservations on the proposals, which appeared to give both the Greeks and Turks a permanent power of veto and which therefore restricted British freedom of action and flexibility in moving ahead on the question. The Secretary asked whether the Ambassador had any concrete suggestion as to the form of United States support for the new British step. The Ambassador indicated that a public statement would be most welcome, and the sooner the better. The Secretary said he saw no reason why one could not be issued at once.

In reply to a question about Archbishop Makarios, the Ambassador referred to Eden’s statement yesterday that, if Makarios were willing to condemn violence, a new situation would be created. In this connection Sir Roger mentioned secret minutes of Ethnarchy Council deliberations recently captured by the British which seemed to indicate clearly that Makarios had not been negotiating in good faith. He also referred to the Department’s earlier comments3 on the section of Eden’s statement which referred to the Lausanne Treaty. He had called our comments to the attention of London but apparently the text had not been changed. He pointed out that Eden had not stated a British position but had merely summarized the Turkish view on the Lausanne Treaty, which was that any change in the status of Cyprus would, by invalidating one provision of the Lausanne Treaty, open up other provisions. In this connection, they had specifically mentioned Western Thrace, the Patriarchate and Greek community in Istanbul, and the Aegean Islands.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 747C.00/7–1356. Secret. Drafted by Baxter.
  2. For text of Eden’s statement of July 12, see H.C. Debs. 5th series, vol. 556, cols. 595–602.
  3. Not further identified.