172. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State0
4121. Eyes only for Secretary. On British initiative I saw Governor Foot of Cyprus this afternoon in office of FonOff Assistant Under Secretary Rose at whose request report of conversation is being sent on this eyes only basis.[Page 572]
Conversation which lasted an hour consisted of exposition by Foot of his thinking underlying plan for new step re Cyprus which is essentially set forth in Ankara’s 1856 rptd London 172, January 10.1 Foot does not expect enthusiastic reception this plan on part either of Turks or Greeks but he is hopeful that extent protest both sides can be minimized to degree which will in fact constitute reluctant acquiescence. Re the Turks he emphasizes that plan does not constitute change from UK assurances already given on December 19, 19562 that no final solution will be reached without the concurrence of the Turkish community and that plan envisages partition as minimum possibility to be considered at end seven year period in the event no better solution is then presented or is reached in meantime. In his public statements in regard to this plan Foot will make clear that he does not like partition and is determined to work for better solution although partition cannot be ruled out now. Re the Greeks Foot proposes to present plan in person to Makarios and to take line that he convinced this is Archbishop’s last opportunity to participate in forward progress of island, that if he does not acquiesce in termination of the emergency and participate in negotiations for constitution he may expect to remain in exile indefinitely and that in fact present plan gives Archbishop all he has been demanding in that it is directly aimed toward self-determination after a specified period and self-determination on the only basis which is realistic in the light of the interests of the communities on the island. While Foot anticipates Makarios will protest and may raise conditions to acceptance, Foot is hopeful that he can convince Makarios of the soundness of this plan sufficiently so that the Archbishop will in effect acquiesce. In that case Foot feels that the Greek Government although also protesting would have no choice but to similarly acquiesce.
Insofar as the reaction among the Greek and Turkish Cypriots is concerned the Governor estimates that the plan will be welcomed by the large majority who are increasingly fed up with current uncertain conditions on the island. He appreciates the risk that will be taken in terminating the emergency but thinks that the risk is acceptable and will be minimized by relief among those whose relatives will be released from detention who now constitute a wide percentage of the families on the island.
In regard to procedure Foot is awaiting the agreement of the Turkish Government to his proceeding immediately to Ankara if possible tomorrow or the next day, following which and if but only if he achieves satisfactory Turkish response to his proposals, he will proceed to [Page 573]Athens to see first Makarios and immediately after the Greek Government. If all goes well he would hope to be back in Cyprus early next week.
Foot reiterated with emphasis throughout conversation his conviction that this is last opportunity in foreseeable future to take useful forward step toward solution Cyprus problem and that he sees no alternative to plan as proposed. If plan falls through he anticipates renewal of violence and assesses EOKA’s capabilities as greater now than heretofore. He would consequently expect violence on intensified scale and is not optimistic that UK would be able to pacify the island by force in any reasonable period. In this connection he noted that EOKA currently appears to enjoy wider sympathetic support among island inhabitants than at any time in the past which would enable relatively small number terrorists to create major trouble and enhance difficulties of security forces and inter-communal strife could be expected to be greater than heretofore.
In the circumstances Foot concluded that next few days are crucial and expressed firm hope that US whose intervention might be decisive would see its way to supporting this proposed plan with the Greeks and the Turks vigorously at the appropriate moment. his hope would be that we could instruct our Embassies in Ankara and Athens to coordinate with their British colleagues and make appropriate strong representations to the Turkish and Greek Governments immediately following the contemplated British presentations if and when Foot discusses proposal with those governments.