215. Telegram From the Embassy in Greece to the Department of State0
3481. 1. Have just come from lengthy conversation with Averoff in which I carried out instruction in Deptel 3684 .1 In so doing, I endeavored once more on personal basis point out certain aspects UK plan that should have some appeal to GOG, i.e., the proposal for Greek majority on the Council (point on which Harding-Makarios negotiations failed) and fact that eventual self-determination was not excluded. Referring practical objection of Prime Minister that plan would be continual bickering I observed that this would probably ensue under any plan. I reiterated our deep concern that Cyprus situation could result in disrupting effect on NATO and Western defense position and urged serious study of latest proposals.
2. Averoff replied that most serious defect of plan was creation Turkish legal right over Cyprus.2 He observed that even if all the rest were acceptable no Greek Government could agree to this change in the legal situation. When I pointed out that eventual self-determination was not excluded he agreed but said that once Turkish right was re-established it would be impossible eliminate it.
3. Foreign Minister then said that he must inform me with all seriousness of which he was capable of the attitude of GOG. In its opinion the US position is one-sided and in effect is pro-Turkish. This is now the firm conviction of his government and he cited in support the message of the Secretary at the time of Istanbul riots in 19553 when he said the killers and the killed got the same treatment from US. GOG knows what it owes to us and will always have sentiments of gratitude and friendship, but on Cyprus issue it is obliged to say it has been ill-treated in manner which is politically unpleasant and morally unjustified. He would ask me put the following question to the Secretary and Rountree: [Page 632] In Cyprus several Greeks have been hanged for having been found with unloaded arms;4 has any Turk been punished by Britain because of murder of Greek or burning of Greek property? In similar situation would American Government accept such treatment of its people? GOG analysis of Cyprus problem has led it to conclusion that one of reasons for strong emotional reaction in Greece is because it has been humiliated by its allies and this sentiment is rampant in Parliament. Averoff requested me inform Secretary confidentially that both he and Prime Minister were heard by Parliament last night in freezing atmosphere and with only pro forma applause. Both he and Prime Minister must tell US Government that situation is so serious they cannot make any forecast for either evolution of situation in Greece or for the ties of alliance with Turkey, including those ties with Turkey which exist through NATO. Averoff said he was certain Secretary recognizes his sincerity and he cannot exaggerate seriousness of the situation here.
4. With respect to political situation, government has majority but number deputies are dissatisfied. If 20 of them should defect under pressure public sentiment the government will go. The best that could be expected afterward would be unsound, i.e. a military dictatorship which GOG does not want. However, amongst Greek people today the feeling is that with its allies only Turkey counts.
5. Foreign Minister said he had just read communique issued by GOT5 which was bitter against UK and threatened unpleasant consequences unless “certain clarifications” are given. He added “il ne manquait plus que ca”. If UK should once more give in to Turkish intransigence situation will become explosive. When I pointed out that if Turks were dissatisfied plan could not be completely pro-Turkish, Foreign Minister referred once more creation Turkish legal right and said better for UK simply announce that partnership idea had been proposed and rejected by both Greece and Turkey.
6. Main preoccupation of GOG is now possible repercussions of present trend events on Greeks in Istanbul. Developments in Cyprus provoked deep reaction here but outbreak Istanbul will cause much deeper emotions as it affects Greeks on Turkish soil who are far away from Cyprus struggle but who because of Patriarchate have sentimental attachment Greek people. He thought it tremendously important that Greece’s allies be firm in their efforts to protect these Greeks for if outburst [Page 633] comes nothing can be excluded in way of reaction from Greek people.
7. Averoff said it possible he would not be long in present position. GOG must shortly react Turkish provocations. It had moved with great care to date hoping that UK plan would provide something acceptable. GOG has not yet decided how react but it would be unpleasant for its allies. For his government, however, there are limits to what reaction it could demonstrate and if it goes too far the government will resign. The King had been informed and is highly concerned. Once more he must repeat that GOG is firmly convinced US has abandoned Greeks and backed UK in a pro-Turkish attitude. He cited with some bitterness a recent NATO order which he claimed Germany had placed in Turkey when Greek factories were far better equipped to deal with it. He said the Turks were barbarians and barbarians enjoyed liberty of action that was not possible for civilized peoples.
8. I am still strongly of opinion that only chance putting plan over here is for both US and UK make it unmistakably clear that plan is to be implemented insofar as possible regardless of GOG attitude and that it will be so much the worse for them if they refuse opportunity modify plan through discussion, combined with tangible proof continuing its interest in Greece by additional aid offers. Such position of course carries real risk that Greece will leave NATO and political chaos or dictatorship result here but I believe it also has chance of success. Probable alternative developments are in my opinion so serious that really firm try is worth the risk. Certainly GOG will continue on present line unless much more pressure is brought to bear. As our discussions to date have been confidential, we could presumably back away if such approach proves ineffective.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, 747C.00/6–1158. Secret; Niact; Limit Distribution. Received at 6:09 p.m. Transmitted in two sections. Repeated to London, Paris for USRO, Ankara, and Nicosia.↩
- Document 210.↩
- Reference is to points 3, 5, 7, and 8 of the British Plan, which would provide Turkish citizenship for Turkish Cypriots and give the Turkish Government a role in the creation of self-government in Cyprus together with veto powers over legislation that it considered discriminatory against Turks.↩
- For text of Dulles’ September 17, 1955, message to Papagos, see Department of State Bulletin, September 26, 1955, p. 496.↩
- Under the State of Emergency proclaimed by the British on September 26, 1955, unlawful possession of firearms was punishable by life imprisonment.↩
- A Turkish Foreign Ministry communique issued on June 11 at Ankara denied any Turkish Government responsibility for the riots and placed the blame on the British Government for attempting to force the Greek and Turkish Cypriots into “undesired cooperation.”↩