174. Letter From Prime Minister Karamanlis to President Eisenhower0

Dear Mr. President: It was a great pleasure for me to receive your letter of December 31st,1 which gives me the opportunity to express to you once more my deep appreciation of the personal contact that we had in Paris.2

Although the last meeting of NATO could have been more constructive, it undoubtedly contributed, thanks to your presence and to your sincere and generous suggestions, to the reaching of a closer cooperation between the members of the North Atlantic Alliance and to the strengthening of the morale of the Free World.

I have studied with great attention the part of your letter concerning the British colony of Cyprus, which has been struggling for years in order to obtain its freedom. I regret that, as it appears from the contents of your letter, I was not able during my visit to you to explain fully the Greek views on the question.

The diplomatic talks, which you advocate between the immediately concerned Governments, could and should solve some particular subsequent questions.

However, it is almost impossible from the practical point of view to solve the main question if the fundamentally concerned part, i.e. the Cypriot People, were not to participate to [in] the elaboration of any solution and were not to be given the clear perspective that they will at some time be able to decide upon their own fate.

Let us suppose that a decision not acceptable to the Cypriots were taken without them being consulted. Would we then be called upon to cooperate with the ruling Power in order to impose by force such a decision?

Greece, without betraying her duty towards her oppressed children, but at the same time conscious of her obligations towards the Free World, has always pursued solutions apt to combine the satisfaction of the fair claim of the Cypriot people not only with the particular interests of Gt. Britain and Turkey, but also, in a general way, with those of the Atlantic Alliance. In this endeavour, Greece has suggested ways of solving [Page 576]the problem, which have been warmly praised by personalities of international weight. Consequently, Greece is not to blame for the non-solution of the Cypriot question. Greece has always shown understanding. It is time for the other parts concerned to show a similar spirit. And indeed it is high time, because the invincible might of the ideals which guide today the fortunes of Mankind, is bound to bring sometime freedom to Cyprus. But it is possible in the meantime that the Cypriot question should provoke new complications which could have perilous repercussions in the Balkans, the Middle East, and even on the general policy of my country.

As you know, Mr. President, Communism in Greece presents no danger from the viewpoint of numerical force. However, on account of the Cypriot question, the attitude of our Allies on that matter and the tragic events of Istanbul and Smyrna,3 the Greek people were subjected to a bitterness that has encouraged, at the time of the last general election, the formation of a “Popular Front”4 of which the averted access to power might have created a crisis in the relations of Greece and the Free World.

In spite of this, the Greek people, linked traditionally to the Western World, followed my leadership,5 having faith as well in my assurance that the Allies of Greece would show the proper understanding and that the misunderstandings brought about by the Cypriot question would be cleared.

I am sure that you will not fail to appreciate, Mr. President, the difficulties which are created for my Government by the frustration of the expectations of the Greek people.

Nevertheless, despite these hindrances, I wish to assure you, Mr. President, that, as long as my Government are in power, they will continue to handle the Cypriot question in a manner which, without driving them away from their national duty, will serve as well the interests of the Free World. In this arduous endeavour, your support, to which my Government attaches a particular importance and for which I wish to thank you, will be of the greatest help.

Please accept, Mr. President, with the expression of my sincere feelings of friendship, the assurance of my highest regard.

Sincerely

Karamanlis
  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 64 D 174, Karamanlis. No classification marking.
  2. In his letter, Eisenhower stressed the need for cooperation among the NATO allies, encouraged Greece to seek a peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem through consultations with Turkey, and indicated that the United States was ready to offer “appropriate assistance” to further a settlement. (Ibid., Central Files, 747C.00/1–458)
  3. At the NATO Heads of Government meeting in Paris, December 16–19, 1957. For a memorandum of Eisenhower’s December 18, 1957, conversation with Karamanlis, see Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. XXIV, pp. 523 525.
  4. Reference is to serious anti-Greek riots which took place in these two cities in September 1955. The riots were sparked by the bombing of the Turkish Consulate in Salonika.
  5. Prior to the February 16, 1956, general elections in Greece, the parties of the center and left formed the “Democratic Union” coalition. The Communist-dominated United Democratic Left Party (EDA) was a part of this coalition.
  6. Karamanlis' National Radical Union Party won a majority of 165 seats in the February 1956 elections.