358. Telegram From the Embassy in Cyprus to the Department of State0

161. Cyprus nearing end of third drought year, with serious deficit in wheat, barley, and corn. 35,000 tons purchased to finish 1960 and reserves will be exhausted by May 61. If winter crop fails, situation will become critical. Figures re final collections and imports for this year and estimate needs for 1961 expected shortly. We tentatively estimate Cyprus needs additional 40,000 tons during next few months.

We believe situation merits assistance under title II, PL 480 (Department’s A–53 May 16).1 Farmers’ funds exhausted; banks and cooperatives refusing credit; moratorium on sale farmland being considered by Cypriot legislature. Farmers’ families, baffled and touched by hunger, turning to GOC for help. Farmers being given seed. Possible budgetary deficit complicates import further wheat.

Political aspects have definite bearing. Cypriot Commies now working on farmers with greater success. Soviet Ambassador to Athens visited Cyprus, promising aid. It is predicted new Soviet Ambassador to Cyprus will soon arrive with gift of several shiploads of grain. I would hope that, if we decide to help, we will move before Soviets do.

We are continuing discuss situation with GOC. Final recommendation re total requirement will follow. Meanwhile Finance Minister, who plans discuss with Department while in Washington, will have additional information.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 880A.49/9–2860. Confidential. Repeated to Ankara, Athens, and London.
  2. Airgram 53 to Nicosia outlined procedures for requesting aid under Title II of P.L. 480 and the legal requirements for receiving the aid. (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 110 to Nicosia, October 6, the Department reported on discussions in Washington relating to the possibility of applying special P.L. 480 Title II programs to Cyprus. (Ibid.)