347. National Security Council Report0

NSC 6003


General Considerations

1. The agreements to establish an independent Cypriot republic in February 1960, which were reached at Zurich and London in early 1959, brought an unexpected end to four years of violence on Cyprus and justified hopes that a satisfactory solution might be achieved. It is likely that current efforts to implement these agreements will in fact culminate in Cypriot independence though difficult problems remain to be overcome, but there is at least a possibility that the settlement might collapse.

Importance of Cyprus to the United States

2. Cyprus has been important to the United States primarily because the controversy over the future status of Cyprus caused a dangerous deterioration of Greek-Turkish and Greek-British relations and disrupted NATO cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean. Now it is important that, when Cyprus gains its independence under the provisions of the London Agreements of February 1959, the new Republic become a stable and unifying, rather than disruptive, force in relations among Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. Collapse of the Cyprus settlement could have disastrous consequences for the present pro-Western Government of Greece, could have serious implications for the [Page 820] Turkish Government and could impair Greek-Turkish relations. It could also throw the island into a new period of violence and confused drift, reawakening Greek Cypriot demands for union with Greece and Turkish Cypriot demands for partition.

3. The chief strategic importance of Cyprus to the West will continue to lie in the British bases and their role in the United Kingdom’s planning and posture for military operations in the Middle East and Mediterranean. Since the loss of British bases in Egypt, the strategic importance of Cyprus has increased. Cyprus is located within striking range of the USSR and its airfields are capable of handling medium jet bombers. The British currently maintain approximately one wing of light bombers on the island which they may be expected to contribute in support of CENTO plans. The British airfields on Cyprus are useful to the United States as a possible staging base for Middle East operations and as a possible back-up installation for the U.S. facilities located at Adana, Turkey.

4. The United States has other important interests on Cyprus. U.S. governmental facilities include a radio communications relay station which is vital to official U.S. communications throughout the Middle East and foreign broadcast monitoring stations which are important to our collection of foreign intelligence. On the whole, no serious troubles are anticipated in connection with U.S. installations, although Cypriot leaders have indicated that they will seek some form of quid pro quo for continued availability of these facilities. Any effort to relocate these facilities would be costly in terms of both time and money, and there is no other location in the area at which the assigned mission could be accomplished satisfactorily. The American-owned Cyprus Mines Corporation is the largest single business enterprise in Cyprus and its tax payments account for approximately one-sixth of the total governmental revenues of Cyprus. Other U.S. companies, particularly the Cyprus Chrome Company and the Forest Oil Company, have investments in Cyprus.

International Political Orientation

5. The London Agreements provide that an independent Cyprus will be tied closely to Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom. These three countries will guarantee the independence, territorial integrity and security of Cyprus, all three will have armed forces stationed in Cyprus, and they will have the right to intervene singly or jointly to restore the situation established by the settlement. Cyprus will be linked with Greece and Turkey in a treaty of alliance, in accordance with which a tripartite military headquarters embracing command and training functions will be established in Cyprus. The forthcoming Cypriot Republic will probably elect to join the British Commonwealth.

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6. Cyprus’ many formal and natural bonds with Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom notwithstanding, a number of Greek Cypriots are drawn toward the Afro-Asian community. Remembrance of support from within the Afro-Asian group for Cypriot self-determination in the United Nations and the temptation to form a bridge between the Afro-Asians and NATO will fortify Cypriot inclinations to fashion an independent foreign policy. Any sentiment for an independent policy will most probably be encouraged by the Cypriot Communists. Under the presently foreseen constitutional set-up, the veto power, which will be exercised by both the Greek President and the Turkish Vice President of Cyprus over foreign affairs decisions, is likely, however, to circumscribe the new Government’s room for diplomatic maneuver. The Soviet Bloc will probably try to establish diplomatic representation in Cyprus in order to have observers in such an important military and communications complex, and to take full advantage of the problems facing the new state.

Cypriot Relations with the United States

7. The Cypriot population has no special basis in past history for close relations with the United States. In fact the Greek portion of the population has recently been resentful of the unwillingness of the United States to support their aspirations for self-determination. This resentment is now receding and it is expected that the Cypriot government will seek cordial relations with the United States—and U.S. assist-ance—in order to offset the predominant U.K. position in Cypriot affairs. The Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities will each be sensitive to any U.S. action which appears to show partiality to the other.

Internal Strengths and Weaknesses

8. The Zurich-London Agreements institutionalize the historic separateness of the four-fifths Greek majority and the one-fifth Turkish minority in Cyprus in an intricate and delicately balanced governmental framework. Essentially a federation along ethnic lines, the arrangements can only work successfully with the good will of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities and the continued cooperation of the Greek and Turkish Governments. There are no indications that the establishment of an independent Cyprus will give rise to a specifically Cypriot nationalism. Recent years of emergency have subordinated moderate Cypriots, both Greek and Turkish, to extremist leaders who did not hesitate to use force and intimidation to ensure absolute adherence to the national program of their separate communities. Not since 1931 have the Cypriots had an island-wide legislative body, and their training in self-government has been limited to municipal administration and subordinate positions in the civil service. It will be difficult to find sufficient qualified personnel among the Turkish Cypriots to staff [Page 822] the executive levels of the civil service in the 70–30 ratio prescribed by the Constitution, and even among the Greek Cypriots there will be a dearth of qualified administrators.

9. The Turkish community in Cyprus, politically more homogeneous and disciplined than the Greek, can be expected to follow the general lead of the Turkish Government. The Greek community is more faction-ridden, and Archbishop Makarios is the only leader prospectively capable of uniting it for the cooperative action needed to get the Republic of Cyprus underway. However, he will be hard put to maintain himself as a unifying and stabilizing force in the face of the subtle opposition of the Cypriot Communists and the tendency toward factionalism on the part of the Greek Cypriot community. Makarios’ strength and prestige derive from his unique position as Archbishop and Ethnarch (which makes him both the religious and dominant political leader of the Greek community); his demonstrated abilities at compromise and conciliation; and the support accorded him by the Greek Government. Although at present willing to accept Communist support to avoid an initial electoral struggle, the Archbishop apparently hopes to fashion a reliable non-Communist political party from the former members of EOKA (the Greek Cypriot terrorist organization) and the Nationalist Greek Cypriot youth, labor and agricultural organizations.

10. The political ambitions of General Grivas, the former Chief of EOKA, appear to lie primarily in Greece. Nonetheless, he remains a potential disruptive element in Cypriot politics. Grivas’ past attempts to undermine the Archbishop and the settlement itself have not seriously endangered Makarios’ leadership, and open political support for Grivas in Cyprus seems limited to a small clique surrounding the Bishop of Kyrenia. Grivas can, however, play upon the admiration accorded him as the almost legendary hero of the liberation struggle and upon the continuing dedication to enosis of the majority of the Greek Cypriots, most of whom appear to hope that Cypriot independence is but a step toward eventual union with Greece.

11. Greek Premier Karamanlis is closely associated with the present settlement and is committed to its success. The cooperation between Makarios and Karamanlis, and the latter’s thus far effective opposition to Grivas in the Greek political arena, have done much to lessen Grivas’ ability to undermine Makarios on Cyprus and sabotage the settlement. If the Karamanlis government should be replaced by elements which are either not identified with the Cyprus settlement or actually opposed to it, the chances for stability on the island would worsen, and the situation could deteriorate rapidly.

12. In the longer run, the most serious threat to Makarios’ political dominance and the future of an independent Cyprus is posed by the Communists. The only well organized party in Cyprus at this time is the [Page 823] no longer proscribed Communist Party of Cyprus (AKEL) with a membership estimated at 6–12,000 Greek Cypriots. AKEL strength derives from its skilled mature leadership and its control of the 35,000-member Pan-Cypriot Federation of Labor (PEO) which enables it to dominate organized Cypriot labor. In general the Cypriot Communists have sought to maintain the appearance of unity with other Greek Cypriots. Capable of controlling today perhaps 30 per cent of the Greek Cypriot votes, they can be expected to cause serious problems for the new state, particularly in the event of serious unemployment or financial and political mistakes by the inexperienced nationalists. The large Communist role in municipal governments will probably continue, but is expected to be of less significance in the future because of the anticipated reduction in the importance of these governments following independence. Breaking the grip of the Communists over the labor movement through re-invigoration of the non-Communist labor movement (SEK) is difficult because of the ineffectivness of present SEK leaders.

13. The autonomous Orthodox Church of Cyprus plays a very important role in the lives of Greek Cypriots by virtue of its restrictive control over the Greek Cypriot educational system, its considerable economic power derived from large-scale land holdings, and the political guidance given the villagers by their priests. Increased Cypriot participation with government which will come with independence will undoubtedly force some secularization of Greek Cypriot education and politics when the Republic is established. Church and Government will necessarily be intertwined, however, as long as Archbishop Makarios remains the political leader of the Greek Cypriots. This involvement of the Church in politics is likely, sooner or later, to provide an irresistible issue for exploitation by the Communists.

Economic Problems

14. Cyprus is a country of 563,000 people with a per capita income which surpasses that of all other states in the area except Israel. It is, however, a fragile economy marked by great disparities in the distribution of national income and a heavy reliance on foreign exchange from two sources; i.e., income from British bases and exports of copper by the American-owned mining company.

15. Cyprus is predominantly an agricultural country, with more than half of the labor force engaged in farming. Agricultural productivity suffers from an insufficient water supply, excessive land fragmentation and antiquated methods of farming. Minerals, particularly copper and iron pyrites, constitute an important economic resource. Production of minerals now accounts for approximately 13 per cent of GNP and 60 per cent of total exports. However, it is estimated that the largest and richest of the copper deposits will be depleted within about five to six [Page 824] years, and it is unlikely that output of lower grade ores will be increased enough to maintain the present level of copper exports. Capital invested in mining operations is almost entirely of foreign origin, the principal mining enterprise being the American-owned Cyprus Mines Corporation. Industry is small-scale and primarily restricted to the processing of local products such as fruits, tobacco, beverages, olive oil, and building materials. Population increase is approximately two per cent even with a high rate of emigration. While the current unemployment rate of between two per cent and four per cent does not appear serious in itself, it is a matter of real and continuing concern because it is concentrated among higher skilled and better paid workers.

16. In recent years, despite its meager resources, Cyprus has enjoyed a high level of economic activity as a result of British expenditures on the island in connection with the bases there. If, as anticipated, these British military expenditures decline, the Cypriots will be faced with the need to expand both agriculture and industry in order to maintain income and employment, even though revival of the pre-emergency tourist trade should be of material assistance in meeting the problem. Quite apart from the trends in British military expenditures, however, general economic development and more equitable distribution of income will undoubtedly be among the major goals of the new Cypriot government.

17. Both Greek and Turkish Cypriot leaders have indicated their intention to remain in the sterling area for at least ten years. If Cyprus ultimately joins the British Commonwealth, it will presumably do so in recognition of the economic benefits to be derived therefrom. The Greek and Turkish Governments have indicated an intention to provide some economic assistance to Cyprus. Their contributions are likely to be small and channelled so as to benefit primarily their respective ethnic communities in Cyprus. The British have announced their willingness to construct an airport terminal as a gift to Cyprus and to loan Cyprus funds for port improvement and the expansion of electrical distribution facilities, but they have apparently not yet decided on the future level of their economic and military expenditures in Cyprus. At present about three per cent of Cyprus’ trade is with the Soviet Bloc. However, both the Soviet Union and Communist China have offered economic aid to Cyprus, and the Soviet Bloc is offering through a Cypriot Communist trading organization to barter Bloc goods for surplus Cypriot agricultural products, an intriguing proposal to the Cypriots in view of restricted markets in the West. The Cypriot leaders have publicly expressed their intention of asking the United States for economic aid and have already privately requested U.S. technical assistance.

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Defense Problems

18. The British desire to retain sovereignty over two enclaves in Cyprus and the use of other facilities outside the enclaves will be a continuing source of Cypriot-British friction. Under the terms of the Cyprus settlement, Cyprus would have a 2000-man armed force, 60 per cent Greek Cypriot and 40 per cent Turkish Cypriot. The Cypriot armed force, together with a Greek contingent of 950 men and a Turkish contingent of 650, would come under the command of a tripartite headquarters. In addition Cyprus would have a 2000-man gendarm[rie and police force. Makarios has expressed concern over the cost of establishing and maintaining a Cypriot armed force and has asked the United States to provide the arms and equipment required for the Cypriot armed forces. While the Greeks might welcome a smaller armed force, the Turks are apparently opposed to any reduction. The 2000-man armed force would not add significantly to the security of Cyprus against external attack, and would be costly in terms of available resources on Cyprus. If these forces were to be equipped as a constabulary or mobile guard they would be less expensive to maintain and could play a valuable role in coping with any Communist threats to stability.

19. Cyprus is not at present included in the NATO area. [3 lines of source text not declassified] The Cypriots are not likely, at least in the initial years of their independence, to seek membership in NATO.

20. The Greek and Turkish Governments are likely to want to send some of their MAP equipment to Cyprus with their contingents. They may also request us to help support the Cypriot forces with MAP equipment, preferring that the Cypriot forces be equipped with U.S. materiel, as are their own national forces, rather than with British materiel. The British have indicated that they will gladly consider requests for equipment for Cyprus, although they are not anxious to provide such equipment. They also expressed the hope that the United States would take a similar position.


21. A politically stable Cyprus, linking Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom in a cooperative relationship, and willing and able to resist Communist subversion.

22. The continued availability to the West of the British military facilities on Cyprus.

23. The continued, unhampered use of U.S. communications facilities on Cyprus.

24. Cypriot economic development conducive to the development and maintenance of political stability, a pro-Western orientation and free democratic institutions.

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Major Policy Guidance

25. Support an independent Cypriot state as the only feasible way of achieving under present circumstances a settlement of the Cyprus problem acceptable to all parties.

26. Endeavor, in collaboration with the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey, to seek to maintain a pro-Western outlook on Cyprus as a means of preserving present Free World interests on the island.

27. Endeavor, within the limits of feasibility, to maintain U.S. communications facilities on Cyprus for as long as they are required, being prepared to this end to offer reasonable quid pro quos, if necessary.

28. Avoid any U.S. action that might suggest partiality between the Greek and Turkish communities.

29. Support the admission of Cyprus to the U.N. and, subject to financial policy considerations, to Free World international financial institutions. Consider supporting admission to other intergovernmental organizations on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the role which the Republic of Cyprus could be expected to play in such organizations.

30. Look with favor on Cypriot membership in the British Commonwealth as a means of strengthening Cyprus’ ties with the United Kingdom and the Free World and of providing economic advantages to Cyprus.

31. Take no initiative to secure the admission of Cyprus into NATO but be prepared to consider such admission if the question is raised.

32. Encourage the Cypriot Government to establish sound economic policies and to maintain an investment climate which would promote both domestic and foreign private investment.

33. Discourage the Cypriot Government from establishing excessive economic ties with the Sino-Soviet bloc.

34. Encourage Cyprus to look to the United Kingdom, to Western Europe, including Greece and Turkey, to the Free World international financial institutions, and to private investment to meet its needs for external capital.

35. Urge the United Kingdom to exercise the major role in supporting Cypriot economic development efforts and in providing economic and technical assistance.

36. Encourage Greece, Turkey, and other Western European countries to take an active interest in promoting the economic welfare of Cyprus and to provide technical and economic assistance within their capabilities.

37. Be prepared to provide technical assistance on a small scale and to negotiate surplus commodity sales under P.L. 480 as an aid in accomplishing U.S. objectives with respect to Cyprus. Consider providing [Page 827] economic development assistance to Cyprus in the event it does not prove feasible or desirable to rely wholly on the United Kingdom, Western Europe, and the Free World international financial institutions. Coordinate any U.S. aid with the assistance being provided by allied nations in order to minimize the possibility of misunderstandings and to prevent competition over particular aid projects.

38. As feasible help strengthen non-Communist labor organizations in Cyprus.

39. Be prepared, as appropriate and feasible, to encourage the reimposition of the ban on the Communist Party of Cyprus.

40. Discreetly encourage the new Cyprus Government to develop, maintain, and train its internal police and security services to combat Communist subversion.

41. Encourage the Cypriots to look to Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom and encourage these countries to take cooperative action to equip the Cypriot forces, preferably along the lines of a lightly armed, mobile constabulary with an internal security mission.

42. Be prepared, depending on amounts and types of equipment involved and without commitment to make up resulting deficiencies, to give sympathetic consideration to possible request from Greece and Turkey that their contingents destined for Cyprus be allowed to utilize MAP equipment and, in the event the provisions of paragraph 41 above prove inadequate, that Greece and Turkey be allowed to transfer to the Cypriot armed forces MAP equipment excess to over-all U.S. requirements. If Greece or Turkey use such transfers as the basis for requesting the United States to provide additional military equipment, any such request should be referred to the National Security Council for consideration in the light of the circumstances then existing.

43. Do not provide direct U.S. military assistance to Cyprus unless the other measures in paragraphs 41 and 42 fail. If these measures fail and if it is believed absolutely essential for the achievement of U.S. objectives, consider in the National Security Council the question of direct military assistance to Cyprus under the circumstances then existing.

44. Continue to consult with the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey, and, if appropriate, with the Government of Cyprus, with respect to t programming normally screen out items which are available on the commercial market, on the basis that such items should be furnished by the country from indigenous resources.

Financial Implications


1. A preliminary review has been made by the Department of Defense of the list of equipment requested by Archbishop Makarios on [Page 828] October 17, 1959.1 The rough order-of-magnitude estimate of the cost to MAP for the provision of the entire list of equipment is approximately $2.5 million. The preliminary estimate of the cost of providing the strictly military items is approximately $2.0 million.

2. The purely military items in the list include small arms, ammunition, general purpose vehicles, communications equipment, and individual equipment. The list also includes many items which are not normally provided under grant military assistance, such as barber’s tool kits, mantles and flat wicks for hurricane lamps, typewriters, miscellaneous furniture, cooking utensils, and office supplies. The criteria used in MAP programming normally screen out items which are available on the commercial market, on the basis that such items should be furnished by the country from indigenous resources.

3. In the event that a military assistance program for Cyprus is established and subsequently evolves in the normal pattern for less-developed countries, the initial equipment would represent only a small portion of the total MAP costs. In addition, there would be expenses for training, construction of storage and maintenance facilities, spare parts, overhaul of equipment, consumable items such as POL and ammunition, and other expenses. These additional expenses, under normal circumstances, would ultimately involve MAP costs greatly in excess of the initial equipment costs.


4. U.S. Government expenditures under this policy are expected to be relatively small. Technical assistance, if extended, is likely to be in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 per year. There is also a possibility of small agricultural commodity sales under P.L. 480.

5. The United States would not expect to provide economic development loans unless the contingency situation covered by paragraph 37 should arise. Even in that event, the United Kingdom, other Western European countries and the international lending institutions would be expected to provide the bulk of the total external development assist-ance rendered. Unofficial studies have estimated the ability of Cyprus to use foreign development assistance at $5–7 million annually over the next few years.

Educational Exchange and Information Programs

6. A small educational exchange program now getting underway might cost as much as $50,000 a year. The U.S. information program, which was initiated in July 1959, is not expected to cost more than about $50,000 a year.

  1. Source: Department of State, S/S-NSC Files: Lot 63 D 351, NSC 6003 Series. Secret. In a February 9 memorandum attached to the source text, Marion W. Boggs noted that this statement of policy was adopted by the NSC on February 4 and approved by the President on February 9. NSC 6003 superseded NSC 5718.
  2. Makarios’ request was delivered on October 20, 1959; see Document 331.