221. Memorandum of Telephone Conversation Between the Under Secretary of State (Herter) and President Eisenhower 0

I told the President that the situation in Greece and Turkey was disquieting. About 4 p.m., after the Secretary had left, we received an aide-memoire from Greece saying the Greek Government was considering breaking off diplomatic relations with Turkey and pulling out of NATO as a result of the state of affairs in Cyprus.1 There was a further implication that the Greeks were being forced to leave Istanbul. Spaak, at NATO, was doing his best to pull things together, but I said I imagined he was having rough sledding.

I told the President it was the feeling here in the Department among Bill Rountree and some of the others who were here in the room that we should do whatever we could to get both Governments to keep their shirts on. The most effective way, it was felt, was for the President to send a personal message to the Prime Ministers of both countries. I said a draft of these messages could be sent up by helicopter or read over the phone. The President said be would like to hear them over the phone. The suggested text follows:

“I am, of course, aware that our governments have been in communication concerning recent Cyprus developments, including the current violence on the Island. In view of my great concern over the possible consequences of a failure to bring about a peaceful solution to this problem, and one which will not disrupt the very foundations of western defense to which both of our countries have made such a great [Page 642] contribution, I would like to share with you personally my own apprehensions.

“The United States is not directly a party to the dispute, although we have endeavored to be of assistance to our friends in bringing about an amicable settlement. I believe that such a settlement is both possible and desirable, and I am confident you share with me views upon the overriding importance of letting nothing happen which will make it more difficult and which would bring about grave losses in terms of the type of cooperation among our allies which is vital to the whole free world. In the present situation emotions are running high and I fear that unless immediate and effective steps are taken to bring about a calmer situation one event, in Cyprus or elsewhere, might lead to another with ultimate effects unwanted and unwelcomed by all of us.

“This matter is currently being considered by the North Atlantic Council. It is my fervent hope that the deliberations in the Council can lead to constructive measures which not only will contribute to a solution of the Cyprus problem itself but will immediately bring about a lessening of tensions and an improvement in the general atmosphere.

“I understand that proposals are now being formulated within the Council to accomplish this end. While I do not yet know what their content will be, I do know the motivations which lie behind them, and I earnestly hope that when they are received you will on your part give them most serious consideration in the context of the great importance of finding some way out of the present impasse. I am confident that you will do so, Mr. Prime Minister, and that you will use your great influence to the end that a harmonious atmosphere will quickly be restored.”

The President inquired whether the “Council” referred to the Security Council, and I said it didn’t, that it referred to NATO.

At the conclusion of the message the President said he thought it was all right. He added that there was no way we could soften anything. I agreed and said Spaak is doing his best but that we could not be specific. The British proposals haven’t helped but have made both sides mad.

The President said he would like to see something at the end of the messages to the effect that “the great sacrifices your people and ours have made for peace must not be lost”. He added that we had better get the message off quickly. I agreed and said there is real urgency or I would not have bothered him.2

Christian A. Herter 3
  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Herter Papers, Telephone Conversations with the President. Secret. Drafted by Stimpson. The President was in Gettysburg and Herter was in Washington.
  2. Transmitted in Document 219.
  3. After modifications in the wording of the proposed texts, similar messages were sent on June 13 in telegrams 3676 to Athens and 3684 to Ankara for delivery to Karamanlis and Menderes. These telegrams are both in Department of State, Central Files, 711.11–EI/6–1358.
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.