170. Letter From Foreign Secretary Lloyd to Secretary of State Dulles0

Dear Foster: I should like you to regard this message as personal for you yourself for the present (except of course we would have no objection at all to your telling the President anything you wish of its contents).

We have decided to have another attempt to make progress over Cyprus.

Sir Hugh Foot, the new Governor, has done a remarkable job in the four weeks in December that he was in Cyprus. He has achieved a marked change in the atmosphere by his personal courage in his public appearances notwithstanding the risk of terrorist attack, by acts of clemency and by successfully getting into contact with many Cypriots publicly and privately. He has been back with us for a few days and he is in complete agreement with all of us on the plan set out in the enclosures to this letter.1

We cannot abandon the assurances which we have given to the Turks, i.e. that the Turkish Cypriot community should have the right to [Page 568] determine its future as a community in just the same way as the Greek Cypriot community. We cannot abandon that position because:

We publicly pledged ourselves to it;
It would have a fatal effect on the Turkish Government if we did;
Opinion here would be very difficult over a change;
Unless we maintain that ultimate position there is no chance of the Turkish Cypriots co-operating in anything else.

Therefore we propose to maintain our pledge that partition will be one of the options open in the event of self-determination.

On the other hand, partition is very difficult and dangerous, and any attempt to do it could lead to all sorts of consequences. Therefore we have to leave the way open for some settlement which would be neither Enosis nor partition. Foot believes that if he is given five years without terrorism he can build up a feeling in the island against both these extreme courses and produce a situation in which both communities in Cyprus will decide to remain united.

The plan enclosed is put for convenience in the form of statements which would be made in Parliament and in Cyprus. This cannot happen for at least a fortnight.

You will see that the plan provides for the retention of bases to meet the strategic requirements of Her Majesty’s Government and her allies. Such British bases would be under British sovereignty, but the possibility of there being a base to be operated by the Turks is left open. The Turks have hinted once or twice that if they had a base on the island they might regard that as a substitute for partition.

One advantage of the scheme as set out is that it offers to the people of Cyprus the immediate prospect of the ending of the state of emergency and the release of most of the detainees, after which Makarios would be allowed to return to Cyprus.2 Foot feels that Makarios will not dare come out against a plan which has this as one of its features. He feels passionately that he can persuade Makarios and the Cypriots to cooperate in the plan. He feels that if Makarios does not condemn it the Greek Government will hesitate to do so. He also wants personally to expound the plan to Makarios before the Greek Government are told.

There are now so many pitfalls surrounding this subject that I am not at all confident that we shall get acquiescence in the scheme. Nevertheless we propose to let Foot have a shot at it. We propose to tell the Turks about the plan rather in advance of the Greeks. We hope that they [Page 569] will agree to see Foot to hear his explanations and also to satisfy themselves that he is the sort of man who will keep his word about treatment of the Turks and will not give in to terrorism should it be renewed. According to the development of those conversations, we should start to tell the Greeks and Foot will be available to go to Athens where he would see Makarios. The meeting of the Baghdad Pact3 is particularly awkward, but I believe it better to try and get this over with the Turks before the Pact meeting. Anyhow, we cannot easily wait because Foot must return to Cyprus and every day after he returns, and nothing is said, increases the likelihood of terrorism again.

We shall of course tell Spaak something of this fairly soon and we have it in mind that Foot should see Barbour in London before he leaves. In the meantime however I am asking you to keep the contents of this to yourself, because I want to delay to the last possible moment knowledge that a plan has been made.

I would think that the best help that you could give, if you were willing to do so at the appropriate time, would be appeals to Menderes and Karamanlis to be statesmen enough to see that this dispute is poisoning the atmosphere in the Eastern Mediterranean and if the chance is not taken to get some peaceful development in Cyprus without prejudice to the final solution, the chances of disaster are greatly increased. I am sure that to get even the degree of acquiescence from the Turks and Greeks which is necessary if the plan is to work at all, your help will be vital.

Our Ambassador in Ankara will put the plan to the Turks as soon as possible.4 How we proceed after that will depend upon their reactions. I will keep closely in touch with you.5

  1. Source: Department of State, PPS Files: Lot 67 D 548, Cyprus. Top Secret. Attached to a letter from Caccia to Dulles, January 9.
  2. Not printed. The proposals were: 1) a 7-year period of self-government for Cyprus under the aegis of the British Government, 2) self-determination on equal terms for both Greek and Turkish Cypriots at the end of this period, and 3) the retention of British bases on Cyprus. The British Government also expressed its willingness to accept at any time a solution that had the agreement of the Greek and Turkish Governments and the two Cypriot communities. Further, the British Government offered to end the state of emergency in force on Cyprus and release persons detained by British authorities on condition that the cease-fire proclaimed by EOKA on August 5, 1957, continue. The British Government had imposed a state of emergency throughout Cyrpus on Novermber 26, 1955.
  3. Makarios was deported to the Seychelles Island on March 9, 1956. On March 28, 1957, he was released from detention with permission to live wherever he chose except Cyprus. The Archbishop moved to Athens.
  4. Scheduled for January 27–30 in Ankara.
  5. The British proposal was presented to the Turkish Government on January 10. In telegram 1856 from Ankara, January 10, Ambassador Warren reported the Turkish Government’s version of the meeting with the British Ambassador and initial Turkish reaction. The Turkish Foreign Ministry continued to favor partition of Cyprus. (Department of State, Central Files, 747C.00/1–1058)
  6. Printed from an unsigned copy.