209. Memorandum of Conversation0



Washington, June 9–11, 1958


  • British Plan for Cyprus


  • United States
    • The Secretary
    • Mr. Allen Dulles
    • Mr. Reinhardt
    • Mr. Berding
    • Mr. Elbrick
    • Mr. Toon
    • Mr. Dale
  • United Kingdom
    • The Prime Minister
    • Ambassador Caccia
    • Sir Norman Brook
    • Sir Patrick Dean
    • Lord Hood
    • Mr. Leishman
    • Mr. W. Morris
    • Mr. de Zulueta
    • Mr. Frederick Bishop

Although he could not express confidence, the Prime Minister maintained that he is not altogether without hope regarding the situation on Cyprus. He believed that there is a chance the Turks and Greeks may, with difficulty, be brought to shrink back from the full consequences of the process they have started.

On the Turkish base proposal2 which the UK had considered previously, he foresaw one great difficulty, namely, that the UK will have gone away (as far as security of the Island is concerned), leaving “practically a civil war” in its wake. This solution, which he said the British describe as “partition minus”, would leave the Turks free to pour troops in through their base area, and the Greeks could be expected to do likewise without the British there to exercise the necessary security function. This would give rise to an intolerable situation and from a British point of view, it would be a cynical move, amounting to telling the Greeks and Turks to “go fight each other.”

[Page 626]

The Prime Minister said that he intended to send a private communication to the Prime Ministers of Greece and Turkey which could be made public, if necessary. He read part of a draft of this message, which made the following main points:

A situation of utmost gravity is developing on Cyprus which could be a threat to NATO.
Means should be found to convert this situation into a partnership, showing what can be achieved by the Greeks and Turks living on the Island. The British plan is designed to provide an opportunity to accomplish this.
The Prime Minister does not ask for immediate agreement to his plan, but he does ask for serious study and he asks the parties to refrain from action which would make progress with the plan impossible.
The Prime Minister does believe that this plan offers a chance, and perhaps the last chance, of ending the dangerous situation on the Island.
He asks for comments from the Prime Ministers and suggests personal discussion with each of them, and perhaps, if it is agreeable to them, with both together, suggesting Rome or Geneva as possible sites.

Mr. Macmillan expressed doubt whether the reaction to his letter would be good, but he hoped that at least self-government could be started on the Island. He said the plan3 involves a “little Parliament for the Greeks, and a little Parliament for the Turks, and a Council to deal with common matters.” He stressed that after seven years of opportunity to live together, they could perhaps be brought to share sovereignty over the Island with Britain.

The Prime Minister said he would be very grateful if, through our Ambassadors, we could ask the Greeks and Turks to consider the British plan very seriously and, as well, the Prime Minister’s letter with its proposal for conferences at the Prime Ministerial level. He asked us to employ “strong advice” rather than “pressure.” Mr. Macmillan said he expected that a statement would be made in the House of Commons on the 17th relating to Cyprus and that NATO would be consulted a day or two in advance. He also asked for US support in the NAC. Even if we fail, asserted the Prime Minister, we shall have proven that it is not our colonial ambition which stands in the way of settlement.

The Secretary described the British plan as a “noble effort” and promised such support as “we feel we can give.” He explained that in anticipation of the British plan he had told the Greek Ambassador, who had come in a few days ago with an extreme position,4 that although he [Page 627] did not know its details, he thought that the UK plan would be a serious, carefully thought-out effort and should be considered with great care by the Greek Government. He mentioned that the Turks came in yesterday and saw the Under Secretary.5 They had an equally extreme, though opposite position. The Secretary added that we would instruct our Embassies in Ankara and Athens to approach the Grek and Turkish Governments along the lines of what we had told the Greek Ambassador. The Secretary expressed doubt whether we should give the UK plan public support. Since we had not been consulted, he did not believe that we should engage our prestige in this way. However, he expressed our intention to give support to the plan privately. He agreed that the situation is becoming very dangerous and is already near a state of war. He remarked that all members of NATO should be prepared to support the UK plan and said that we certainly would.

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, International File. Top Secret. Drafted by Dale on June 11 and cleared by Rountree and Reinhardt. The meeting was held at the Department of State.
  2. Macmillan visited Washington June 7–11. For additional documentation on the Macmillan visit, see volume VII, Part 2.
  3. Reference is to Turkish Government demands for three bases on Cyprus as a condition for its acceptance of a final solution to the Cyprus issue.
  4. See the enclosure to Document 206.
  5. In a June 6 discussion with Dulles, Greek Ambassador George Mallas warned that unless a solution of the Cyprus issue satisfactory to Greece was reached his nation would swing to the far left and into the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. A memorandum of the Dulles-Mallas conversation is in Department of States, Central Files, 747C.00/6–658.
  6. In a June 9 conversation with Herter, Turkish Ambassador Ali Urgupulu urged that the United States not support British plans for Cyprus and reiterated the Turkish Government’s demand for partition of the island. A memorandum of Herter’s conversation with Urgupulu is ibid., GTI/NEA Files: Lot 61 D 220, Cyprus 1958—Negotiations.