206. Letter From the British Ambassador (Caccia) to Secretary of State Dulles0

Dear Mr. Secretary: The Foreign Secretary has asked me to thank you for your message about Cyprus1 which he received through the United States Embassy on the 29th May. The Prime Minister hopes to discuss the problem with you when he is in Washington.2 Meanwhile both he and the Foreign Secretary thought that you might like to see for your personal and top secret information a copy of the draft statement which it is proposed to make, and which I enclose.

On the particular points which you made in your message, the Foreign Secretary believes that although there might be a reaction in Greece against the proposal for the participation of the Turkish Government, the Greek Government and the Greek Cypriots would be content to take their lead from Archbishop Makarios, who has recently declared his willingness to accept self-government within the Commonwealth and has placed less emphasis on arrangements being defined now for the exercise of self determination. It is our conviction that to attempt now to be more precise about self-determination would only alienate the Greeks or the Turks. Our view is that there is a great danger of a Turkish and Turkish Cypriot reaction and that unless Turkish Government participation and a Turkish communal house of representatives are offered now, there is not the least chance of Turkish acceptance of the plan. Indeed, it would be most difficult to persuade the Turks to accept the Greek Cypriot majority in the Governor’s Council.

We think that from the point of view of the Cypriots the plan is imaginative and offers them a hope of peace. It also has advantages for the Greeks. For example, it is designed to take the heat out of the Cyprus problem from the international point of view for the next seven years, and does not prejudice the position thereafter. It gives full opportunity to Archbishop Makarios on the Greek Cypriot side, to reach agreement with the Governor within the framework of the plan.

The advantages of the policy for the Greek people of Cyprus are these:— [Page 618]


Specially-favoured status of the people of Cyprus

The Greek people of Cyprus will enjoy the advantages of association with Greece without having to give up their association with the British Commonwealth. This policy will give them the best possible insurance for future progress and prosperity.


Dual nationality

If Greece agrees, the Greeks in Cyprus will enjoy Greek nationality while retaining British nationality. Thus they will be able to satisfy their desire to be recognized as Greeks without giving up advantages from which they now benefit.


Constitutional advance

The island will be administered under a unitary system of representative government which takes account of the majority position of the Greek community, provides for the election of ministers who will exercise authority in regard to both legislation and administration in a very wide field of public affairs, and also places the control of Greek Cypriot communal affairs in the hands of a representative legislature drawn entirely from the Greek community.


Ending the Emergency

Subject to violence ceasing the Emergency Regulations3 will be relaxed, those now detained will be released, the State of Emergency will be brought to an end, and the exiles will return.


Co-operation between allies

The new policy provides the opportunity for friendly relations between Great Britain, Greece and Turkey to be restored and strengthened, so that Cyprus may become a symbol of co-operation instead of a cause of conflict between the three allied Governments.

For our part we hope and intend that our plan will lead to an eventual settlement based on the continuing unity of the island and possibly also on the idea of shared sovereignty between the three interested Governments. Nevertheless it may be salutary to let the Greeks understand that if to our regret our plan cannot be carried through successfully, there is a real and imminent danger of partition.

We intend of course to give both the Greek and the Turkish Governments reasonable advance notice of our statement of policy. We shall invite their comments and tell them that we shall take them into account. It will, however, be represented as a British plan which will be carried through on British responsibility. Our last experience has convinced us that there is no hope of negotiating a Greek and Turkish agreement to any plan. We think that it is a merit in our plan that it will enable the Governor to carry on with the administration of the island on a set course which will give hope for the future. Sir Hugh Foot and all his advisers are greatly heartened by the Government’s adoption of this set policy.

[Page 619]

The Foreign Secretary greatly hopes that these explanations and considerations will enable you to give us full support for this plan. We believe that this may make all the difference between its success and failure.

Yours sincerely,

Harold Caccia




Aims of Policy

The policy of Her Majesty’s Government in Cyprus has had four main purposes:

to serve the best interests of all the people of the Island;
to achieve a permanent settlement acceptable to the two communities in the Island and to the Greek and Turkish Governments;
to safeguard the British bases and installations in the Island, which are necessary to enable the United Kingdom to carry out her international obligations;
to strengthen peace and security, and co-operation between the United Kingdom and her Allies, in a vital area.

2. These are the aims which Her Majesty’s Government have consistently pursued and which have guided their efforts in recent months to find common ground on which an agreed settlement might be reached. It is deeply regretted that all attempts in this direction have hitherto proved unsuccessful.

3. In view of the disagreement between the Greek and Turkish Governments and between the two communities in Cyprus, and of the disastrous consequences for all concerned if violence and conflict continue, an obligation rests with the United Kingdom Government, as the sovereign Power responsible for the administration of the Island and the well-being of its inhabitants, to give a firm and clear lead out of the present deadlock. They accordingly declare a new policy which represents an adventure in partnership—partnership between the communities in the Island and also between the Governments of the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey.

[Page 620]

4. The following is an outline of the partnership plan:

The Plan

Cyprus should enjoy the advantages of association not only with the United Kingdom, and therefore with the British Common-wealth, but also with Greece and Turkey.
Since the three Governments of the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey all have an interest in Cyprus, Her Majesty’s Government will welcome the co-operation and participation of the two other Governments in a joint effort to achieve the peace, progress and prosperity of the Island.
The Greek and Turkish Governments will each be invited to appoint a representative to co-operate with the Governor in carrying out this policy.
The Island will have a system of representative Government with each community exercising autonomy in its own communal affairs.
In order to satisfy the desire of the Greek and Turkish Cypriots to be recognized as Greeks and Turks, Her Majesty’s Government will welcome an arrangement which gives them Greek or Turkish nationality, while enabling them to retain British nationality.
To allow time for the new principle of partnership to be fully worked out and brought into operation in the necessary atmosphere of stability under this plan, the international status of the Island will remain unchanged for seven years.
A system of self-government and communal autonomy will be worked out by consultation with representatives of the two communities and with the representatives of the Greek and Turkish Governments.
The essential provisions of the new constitution will be:—
There will be a separate House of Representatives for each of the two communities, and these Houses will have final legislative authority in communal affairs.
Authority for internal administration, other than communal affairs and internal security, will be undertaken by a Council presided over by the Governor and including the representatives of the Greek and Turkish Governments and six elected Ministers drawn from the Houses of Representatives, four being Greek Cypriots and two Turkish Cypriots.
The Governor, acting after consultation with the representatives of the Greek and Turkish Governments, will have reserve powers to ensure that the interests of both communities are protected.
External affairs, defence and internal security will be matters specifically reserved to the Governor acting after consultation with the representatives of the Greek and Turkish Governments.
The representatives of the Greek and Turkish Governments will have the right to require any legislation which they consider to be discriminatory to be reserved for consideration by an impartial tribunal.
If the full benefits of this policy are to be realised, it is evident that violence must cease. Subject to this, Her Majesty’s Government intend to take progressive steps to relax the Emergency Regulations and eventually to end the State of Emergency. This process would include the return of those Cypriots at present excluded from the Island under the Emergency Regulations.
A policy based on these principles and proposals will give the people of the Island a specially favoured and protected status. Through representative institutions they will exercise authority in the management of the Island’s internal affairs, and each community will control its own communal affairs. While the people of the Island enjoy these advantages, friendly relations and practical co-operation between the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey will be maintained and strengthened as Cyprus becomes a symbol of co-operation instead of a cause of conflict between the three Allied Governments.

The Future

5. Her Majesty’s Government trust that this imaginative plan will be welcomed by all concerned in the spirit in which it is put forward, and for their part they will bend all efforts to ensuring its success. Indeed, if the Greek and Turkish Governments were willing to extend this experiment in partnership and co-operation, Her Majesty’s Government would be prepared, at the appropriate time, to go further and, subject to the reservation to the United Kingdom of such bases and facilities as might be necessary for the discharge of her international obligations, to share the sovereignty of the Island with their Greek and Turkish allies as their contribution to a lasting settlement.

  1. Source: Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 66 D 204. Top Secret and Personal. Notations on the source text indicate it was seen by Dulles, Rountree, and Whitney.
  2. Document 205.
  3. June 7–11.
  4. Effected by the proclamation of a state of emergency on the island of Cyprus, November 26, 1955.
  5. Top Secret; Personal.