171. Telegram From the Embassy in Greece to the Department of State0

1936. Ankara telegram to Department 1856.1 Present self-determination formula will obviously mean partition to Greeks and hence in normal course of events would be promptly, emphatically and emotionally rejected. There is, however, a faint possibility that Foot might prove sufficiently persuasive in direct conversation to convince Makarios he had nothing to lose by agreeing to plan. In this case GOG could almost certainly be counted on to go along. However, in order to give such approach even its slight chance of success, plan must be presented secretly and GOG and Makarios be given time consider it. That is, Foot’s meeting with Makarios must be exact opposite of Lennox-Boyd’s sensational arrival to present Radcliffe proposals.2 A real covert operation is indicated.

There is also one other modification of Foot plan which it appears to us might have some minute possibility of success. Self-determination formula might be officially interpreted as meaning “on basis acceptable to both Greek and Turk Cypriot communities.” This would be regarded by Greeks as giving minority equal voice with majority and hence unpalatable, as it would certainly also be to Turks, but there might be bare chance of both accepting it if GOT and GOG could at same time be persuaded agree that continuation Cyprus problem seriously prejudices national interests of both, endangers unity of western alliance and plays into Soviet hands; that no solution is viable unless it is willingly accepted by both sides; and that both governments are therefore determined to negotiate secretly and present to HMG for approval an agreement on international status of island.

This procedure would give GOT direct hand in determining Cyprus future as well as the prompt settlement it considers essential. To GOG it would give opportunity to negotiate under conditions enabling concessions to be made backed by approval of Makarios on Cyprus (this depends, of course, on always questionable assumption that Makarios [Page 571] would “play ball” and that he would prove flexible enough to meet Turk requirements).

I have discussed above with British Ambassador3 and found completely pessimistic, both re possibility Greek acceptance Foot plan and re possibility developing any other formula capable of winning sufficient acceptance from parties concerned to prevent serious deterioration Cyprus situation. Turkish Ambassador Vergin has talked to him along same relatively flexible lines he has to Averoff (Embtel 1850)4 and me (Embtel 1819),5 but British Ambassador is convinced that Vergin does not mean what he seems to imply and that there does not exist any potential basis for direct Greek-Turk negotiation. [3 lines of source text not declassified]

While situation looks extremely discouraging, it is obviously of utmost importance that every possible effort be made to make Foot plan succeed and if this impossible to try immediately to find some alternative or at least stop-gap to prevent Cyprus situation from again getting out of hand. Above suggestions made with this thought in mind. In present circumstances we consider them worth a try.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 747C.00/1–1458. Secret; Limit Distribution. Repeated to Ankara, London, Nicosia, and Paris.
  2. See footnote 4, Document 170.
  3. Alan Lennox-Boyd, the British Colonial Secretary, visited Athens and Ankara with little advance public warning December 13–16, 1956, to acquaint the Greek and Turkish Governments with the contents of the Radcliffe Plan. On December 19, Lennox-Boyd unveiled the plan, which included British willingness to consider partition, in a speech to Parliament. For text, see House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, 5th Series, vol. 562, col. 1268. The Greek Government rejected the Radcliffe Plan the same day.
  4. Sir Roger Allen.
  5. Telegram 1850 from Athens, January 2, reported that Averoff had recounted his talks with the British and Turkish Ambassadors in which he stated that any settlement regarding Cyprus must include self-determination for the population of the island and the return of Makarios. (Department of State, Central Files, 747C.00/1–258)
  6. Telegram 1819 from Athens, December 27, reported that the Turkish Ambassador expressed his government’s willingness to hold discussions on Cyprus and its openness to new suggestions for a settlement. (Ibid., 747C.00/12–2757)