195. Telegram From the Embassy in the United Kingdom to the Department of State0

6058. London’s 5985, Ankara’s 2603, Department’s 7380.1 Foreign Office (Addis) April 17 told us following regarding Cyprus:


Telegraphic summary of memorandum from Zorlu received through British Embassy Ankara (paragraph 4 London reftel). Telegram, which Embassy officer allowed to read, states in essence, partition first put foward by Averoff in conversation with Turkish Ambassador and subsequently “highly recommended by British statesmen.” Despite UN resolution of 1957,2HMG has confined itself to discussing Cyprus through diplomatic channels and has refrained from calling conference. During Ankara talks Turkey made clear that its acceptance of a phased course on Cyprus instead of immediate partition depended upon immediate grant of base. Turks again invoked parliamentary statement of 1956.3 “Instability of position of HMG is obstacle to solution Cyprus problem and threat to Anglo-Turkish relations.” Turkey was led to accept idea of base, but it has turned out to be “mirage base” and subject to numerous conditions including Greek approval. Turkish Government is being subjected to pressure from public opinion and unstable British policy. Nevertheless, Turks “making every effort to avoid reversing their policy on Cyprus.” (Foreign Office not clear re meaning this sentence.) If they are to succeed, “HMG should help by convening early conference in accordance with previous decision to reach final settlement.”

Addis commented Turks maintain UK agreed to conference during Ankara talks.4 British view is Ankara talks were not as explicit on this point. British are waiting receipt full text memorandum before considering response.

Foreign Office gave Birgi April 16 its comments on note left by Turkish Embassy summarizing Birgi-Lloyd meeting of April 3 (paragraph 2 London reftel).5 Addis said that British comments intended to make sure Turks understood points made by Lloyd. Addis also said Lloyd’s remarks should be regarded as “ideas for exploration with Turks” rather than “proposals.”
Birgi scheduled leave London April 17 for meeting with Zorlu either in Ankara or during Zorlu’s European trip.6 Addis reiterated he remained convinced Birgi had reported to Ankara talk with Lloyd on April 3 and that Zorlu’s memorandum diversionary move.
Zorlu’s absence from Ankara might delay progress on Cyprus, but on other hand, could provide desirable opportunity for discussions directly with Menderes.

Embassy comments:

As situation now stands UK has advanced “ideas” regarding substance and awaiting Turkish reaction. Turkey has proposed methods of procedure and is awaiting British reaction. Should Turks show interest in British ideas on substance, conference suggested by Turks might be used to work out details. (Addis recalled that when idea of conference last discussed with Greeks, they insisted on advance preparations including consideration of substance of problem.)
Re Depreftel. Paragraph 1 Ankara reftel appears to be erroneous version of British suggestions of April 3. Paragraph 2 Ankara reftel concerns Zorlu memorandum described above, we have no way of knowing whether Birgi actually reported April 3 demarche. In any case, he can hardly avoid doing so at forthcoming meeting with Zorlu.
We do not believe UK or Governor Foot could make statement along lines suggested by Nicosia’s 3017 without prejudicing Turkish consideration of April 3 ideas. Furthermore, Greeks have stated interim government prepared entertain proposals on Cyprus (Embtel 5483)8 and probably would resist effort to assign blame for inaction to Greece’s lack of government.
From Nicosia’s 3049 appears that Governor Foot naturally primarily concerned by threat to security on island, is inclined to go further in direction of trying to reassure Greeks than HMG would think advisable in view of status talks with Turks. We are somewhat apprehensive over possible US involvement in conveying any assurances to Greeks, believing best tactic for US is to remain inactive pending Turkish reaction to April 3 “ideas”.
It appears to us there is growing British preoccupation to find quick way to divest themselves of their responsibilities for Cyprus, retaining only British bases. Department will have noted emphasis in April 3 suggestions (which go far to meet Greek views) on early action and especially move directly to self-determination. Plan along these lines would require minimum local cooperation in its implementation.

Government was again pressed in Commons on April 15 for statement on Cyprus and again declined to speak. Cabinet may be under increasing temptation publicly to announce a plan with specific timetable which could involve withdrawal by British to base areas and relinquishment of sovereignty over remainder of island, even in absence of agreed solution. While such move might result in Palestine-type situation, threat of proceeding along these lines could force both Greeks and Turks towards accommodation. We do not mean to imply by speculation in this paragraph that we believe HMG has reached actual decision in favor of rapid disengagement from responsibilities for island, but rather to flag direction of tide.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 747C.00/4–1858. Secret; Priority; Limit Distribution.
  2. Telegram 5985 from London, April 15, reported the latest developments in British-Turk negotiations and British concern over the lack of progress. (Ibid., 747C.00/4–1558) Telegram 2603 from Ankara, April 16, reported that the British had terminated talks on Turkish bases on Cyprus and warned that the Cyprus question was entering a “new and extremely dangerous phase.” (Ibid., 782.56347C/4–1658) Telegram 7380 to London, April 16, “urgently” requested the Embassy’s comments on the information in telegram 2603 from Ankara. (Ibid.)
  3. For text of this resolution, adopted February 26, 1957, see U.N. doc. A/C.1/L.172 (XI).
  4. Presumably reference is to Colonial Secretary Alan Lennox-Boyd’s statement of December 19, 1956. See footnote 2, Document 171.
  5. Reference is to Lloyd’s January 27–30 talks with Zorlu and Menderes. Lloyd’s talks with Zorlu are summarized in Document 178.
  6. It reads: “British anticipated that Birgi would consult Ankara and come back immediately with detailed analysis and counter-proposals. Instead, nothing happened until April 11 when Counselor of Turkish Embassy called on Addis and left with him long note which turned out to be nothing more than detailed and generally accurate account of Birgi-Lloyd meeting of April 3. Account had two or three minor errors.”
  7. Not further identified. Zorlu accompanied Prime Minister Menderes on an April 19–May 2 trip to the Far East.
  8. See footnote 3, Document 194.
  9. In telegram 5483 from London, March 17, Whitney reported that the British Government was surprised and skeptical at Greek insistence that a caretaker regime could carry on negotiations over Cyprus. (Department of State, Central Files, 747C.00/3–1758)
  10. Document 194.