169. Memorandum From L. Bruce Laingen of the Office of Greek, Turkish, and Iranian Affairs to the Director of the Office (Jones)0


  • Outlook for Cyprus


For the present, two avenues of approach appear to offer some hope for progress toward eventual solution of the Cyprus question. The first is in new British proposals based on recommendations by Governor Sir Hugh Foot.1 The second is through Mr. Spaak.2 From present reports, the first appears likely to concern itself chiefly with self-government; the second must be primarily concerned with the international aspect. There should be no reason why these cannot proceed concurrently. The United States should provide all appropriate support and encouragement to these two approaches.


For the immediate future, progress depends almost entirely on Governor Foot and the recommendations he is now making to HMG. Should his efforts lead to no progress the situation on the Island will deteriorate into a shaky truce at best and full scale violence at worst, with increased intransigence in their respective positions by both Greece and Turkey. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that Foot’s efforts have some success.

Foot is reported to have concluded that a long term settlement is not possible now. He may propose that HMG therefore buy time now by strenuous efforts to get agreement in the field of self-government, [Page 565] thereby helping to dissipate prejudices and build confidence—both between Cypriots and British and between Turks and Greeks on the Island. Once this is done he reportedly believes that the atmosphere can be created in which talks on the future international status of the Island can lead to some measure of agreement. (Greek Ambassador to London Seferiades is reported to feel much the same way.)

Foot therefore disagrees with HMG’s present thinking that there is no chance for progress toward self-government on the Island until agreement has been reached among the parties concerned on the international level.

We have no indication as yet of the details of Foot’s recommendations. They are not likely to have much chance of success with the Greeks unless they include an offer to resume negotiations with the Cypriots and unless they indicate a willingness for open discussion on broad principles of self-government, stated by HMG without insistence on the lines of previous offers such as the Radcliffe Proposals.3 They will need to be liberal. They should be dramatic in nature—such as the setting of a definite date for a conference in London and a future date to follow for Island-wide elections. Such a conference would have to include both Turk and Greek-Cypriot participants. Greek and Turk Cypriots can both present good arguments why it would be hard for each to accept such an invitation. But it would be hard for them to refuse, especially if the proposals are liberal, dramatic and include timetables.

The British offer would have to refer to self-determination. HMG’s present position on this was stated in December 1956. At that time HMG reaffirmed its previous recognition of the principle, “when the international and strategic situation permits and provided that self-government is working satisfactorily.” This statement also referred to partition as one of the options which must be available when self-determination is applied.

A restatement of this kind is not likely to be acceptable to the Greeks now. On the other hand, a watering-down of this statement would be unacceptable to the Turks. In these circumstances it should suffice for the British to simply re-affirm acceptance of the principle and to pledge continued efforts in the international field for its application in a manner recognizing the legitimate interests of all concerned.

This, in other words, would be embarking upon discussions on self-government and self-determination simultaneously and concurrently. [Page 566] There is no reason why this cannot be done. Spaak has not exhausted his possibilities, especially by using the Trieste type negotiations.4 Spaak is reluctant to approach the Turks directly. We are not prepared to do so. Moreover, Spaak does not personally have the time which the continuing exchange of views is likely to require. It is time that we approached Spaak again to suggest again that the methods used to settle Trieste might usefully be tried in the Cyprus problem.

Would British proposals along these lines stand a chance of accept-ance? The problem will be least with the Greeks, although Turk-Cypriot participation in all aspects of self-government talks will be hard for Makarios to accept. The Turk-Cypriots in their present mood will be extremely suspicious of any self-government proposals, since they see even self-government as only another road to enosis on the part of a Greek-Cypriot dominated government.

However, the Turks could hardly refuse to permit consideration of self-government proposals. And they would still be assured of talks on the international level as a forum for their insistence on something that could be seen as a variant on partition. Moreover, while a Greek-Cypriot dominated legislature may quickly begin demanding enosis, it may be restrained in doing so by the realization that to do so would only encourage the Turk-Cypriots in demands for partition. Finally, the Turks would have a good guarantee against enosis in continued control over foreign affairs by the British.


A new beginning must be made on Cyprus and there is hope for it in both of the types of talks envisaged above. It is of overriding importance that the improved atmosphere which has resulted from Foot’s efforts to date not be dissipated by new British proposals which succeed in taking us no further than have others since the Harding-Makarios talks broke down.5

We should, therefore

be prepared to give our support to new proposals which HMG may make based on the Foot recommendations, especially if they are along the above lines,
encourage the British to make new and liberal proposals along these lines in self-government if HMG asks our views,
depending upon British intentions, give consideration to instructing USRO to encourage Spaak (as set forth in CA-3732, October 21, 1957)6 to consider further moves on the Trieste pattern as offering the best chances at this time for a NATO contribution toward settlement of the international aspects of the question.

  1. Source: Department of State, NEA/GTI Files: Lot 61 D 249, Background and Briefing. Secret.
  2. Sir Hugh Foot assumed the post of Governor of Cyprus on December 3, 1957. After 4 weeks of meetings with Greek and Turkish Cypriot representatives, he returned to London on January 1 for discussions with officials in the Foreign and Colonial Offices on future British policy toward Cyprus.
  3. In May 1957, NATO Secretary General PAUL-Henri Spaak informally approached the Turkish Government with a proposal for the creation of an independent Cyprus. The Turkish Government rejected this proposal and Spaak suspended his diplomatic efforts. For documentation, see Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. XXIV, pp. 269 ff.
  4. The Radcliffe Plan of December 1956 offered Cyprus a constitution under British sovereignty. The United Kingdom would retain its bases and control over the foreign affairs, defense, and internal security of Cyprus while a locally-elected legislature would be responsible for all other areas of policy. The Greeks were to have a guaranteed majority in the legislature.
  5. Negotiations over the final disposition of the Free Territory of Trieste began in February 1954 among the three powers that provided the military government for the area, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Yugoslavia. In June 1954, the three powers agreed to a draft agreement that was then presented to Italy. The Italian Government directly participated in the final stages of the negotiations, which were concluded in October 1954.
  6. These talks, held intermittently from October 4, 1955, to March 9, 1956, were broken off by the arrest and deportation of Makarios. The talks centered on the terms of Cypriot self-determination.
  7. CA-3732 transmitted a memorandum on Cyprus for the use of USRO in discussions with Spaak. (Department of State, Central Files, 747C.00/10–2157)