175. Letter From Prime Minister Menderes to President Eisenhower0

Mr. President: I wish to thank you for your kind letter of December 31, 1957,1 handed to me by Ambassador Warren.

I was indeed very happy to meet with you again in Paris2 and to have the honor to exchange views on various very important problems interesting our two countries, the NATO Alliance, as well as the whole community of free nations.

I fully concur with your views that the Paris meeting further strengthened the unity and cooperation among NATO members and that it served the peaceful purposes of our Alliance.

Turkey, imbued with the same spirit of solidarity, has made and continues to undertake sincere and serious efforts in order to bring about an early and just solution to the Cyprus dispute which has been created through no fault of hers.

As I have endeavoured to explain in detail when I had the honor of meeting with you, the importance of Cyprus for the security of Turkey is indeed very great. Moreover the future and fate of our brothers in Cyprus constitutes a national cause upon which the Turkish nation dwells with utmost sensitivity. Consequently, it would have been logical for Turkey to insist on the retrocession of the Island to its former possessor, in the event of a change in the international status of Cyprus. Turkey, however, fully aware of the necessity of finding an early solution to this dispute which is upsetting the unity of the free world, at the expense of sacrificing her rights in this cause, followed a conciliatory and moderate course of action and accepted the principle of partition which was advanced as a compromise solution. In this connection, I would like to emphasize this important point: The idea of partition is not a proposal advanced by Turkey. This idea was first put forth by Greece and then supported by the United Kingdom as a compromise solution, and was accepted as such by Turkey.3

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This should suffice to indicate that the solution of the dispute through partition should in no way represent a strange and adverse solution and should not, therefore be considered as an unwelcome solution by the interested parties. It should be realized that since 80% of the Greek population of the Island is known to be communistic any solution which would make it possible for the communist elements to assume a dominating position on the Island would constitute a danger for all peace loving nations and particularly for the NATO community. Viewed in this context and considering the security of Turkey, the true extent of Turkey’s sacrifice in accepting partition will be duly appreciated and accepted.

As it can be seen, there is no doubt that the position of the Island represents as such a very serious problem. Yet the struggles which have been going on for years and the regrettable developments of the last few years have made it crystal clear to every single Turk that the solution of this problem is of primordial importance not only for the existence of the Turks in Cyprus but also for Turkey’s own security. Consequently, permit me to assure you, Mr. President, in the most sincere manner that the freedom of action of my Government or any other future Turkish Government has been extremely restricted by the national will and desire.

The Government of the United Kingdom has recently brought to the attention of the Turkish Government certain proposals which that Government is considering to adopt in order to solve the Cyprus question, and has requested the Turkish Government’s opinion in this respect. We have studied these proposals with the utmost care and goodwill and have already communicated to the Government of the United Kingdom our own views on these proposals.

I consider it my duty to note with great satisfaction your efforts for finding a just and equitable solution to this problem between the interested parties.

I have no doubt that your continued efforts will constitute an important element in facilitating the early solution of this problem.

It is our earnest hope that the sacrifices made by Turkey in order to arrive at an agreement will not be in vain and that, sooner or later, the other interested parties will deem it necessary to follow the same path. Turkey considers herself, by all means justified to expect such a response from the other interested Governments.

While ending my letter, I wish to thank you once again for your message which is an expression of your close concern for the solution of this problem which is of such vital importance for Turkey and the maintenance of NATO solidarity.

Sincerely yours,

A. Menderes
  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204, Menderes. No classification marking.
  2. This letter was similar to the one sent to Prime Minister Karamanlis; see footnote 1, Document 174. A copy of Eisenhower’s letter to Menderes is in Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204, Menderes.
  3. Memoranda of President Eisenhower’s conversation with Menderes, December 18, 1957, are printed in Foreign Relations, 1955–1957, vol. XXIV, pp. 747 749. The two Presidents were in Paris to attend the NATO Heads of Government meeting.
  4. The reference is unclear. The first British Parliamentary discussions on a possible partition took place in July 1956. The British regarded partition as the least favorable solution to the Cyprus problem. No references to a Greek proposal for partition were found.