124. Telegram From the Mission in Geneva to the Department of State1

385. From Acheson. Ref: Mission tel 383.2 Saw Greeks again this afternoon and gave them Turkish reaction to their counter proposal. I will not bother Dept with details, but I made it very clear that Turks considered proposal ridiculous and quite unacceptable and that they had said that they were prepared to talk only on basis of my proposals (by which they meant whole of Karpas Peninsula plus my original ideas of minority rights and safeguards) or on basis counter proposal of partition. To illustrate latter, I showed Greeks map Turks had given me this morning (para four reftel). Added Turks insisted that they would only consider sovereign base area, not lease, although I thought there was [Page 253] bare chance they might accept lease if terms and base area were satisfactory.

Essence of Greek reaction was that Turks clearly wanted more than military base, they wanted what was in effect form of partition. This Greece could never concede because it would be totally rejected by Greek people as well as by Cypriots. GOG would enlarge its Cape Greco offer if that were necessary from purely military point of view to accommodate adequate air and naval base, but it could not go beyond that.

We went round and round most of the old arguments about asserted Turkish unreasonableness, lack of Turkish right of intervention, domestic troubles of Papandreou, etc. I assured Nikolareisis and Sossides that I had done my best to convince Turks that they should take lesser of evils and accept something like what Greeks offer as better than war. However, I said, I did not believe I had made any impact. I feared we had come to end of rope. Greeks seemed to agree with me. They put forward no new suggestions and held out no hope that further consultation in Athens would bring anything forth.

We finally asked whether there was no chance at all of Greek Govt considering whole or part of Karpas Peninsula as Turkish base on long-term lease. Sossides thought there was no chance of granting anything more on that peninsula than could be offered in Cape Greco region. What Turks wanted, he said (and I agreed), was something resembling partition, which is a good deal more than would be needed for military base. GOG simply could not meet this.

Sossides went on that in these circumstances, with all hope gone in Geneva, GOG would have to drop its plans to work actively for enosis and would give full support to Makarios in his drive for full and complete independence. We questioned why this need be. He said Greece would have no basis for enosis campaign if there were no agreement with Turkey. If it staged coup d’etat, this would precipitate war with Turkey. We suggested war would probably come anyway, because Makarios would do things on Cyprus that would bring about Turkish intervention. Sossides, however, thought that if Makarios were relieved of his fear of negotiated settlement he would be willing to hold his hand on the island until General Assembly met, avoiding unbearable provocation of Turks, and would get his full independence endorsed by GA.

I suggested that Sossides should go back to Athens tomorrow and put to Papandreou two possible alternatives: (a) Greece should try to keep negotiations alive by agreeing to discuss Turkish area on Karpas Peninsula, or (b) it should abandon Geneva talks and concentrate on keeping Makarios quiet. Independent Cyprus under Makarios would be pretty bad, but it would probably be better than Greek-Turkish war. Sossides seemed to agree.

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Comment: In light of today’s meetings, I come to two pretty firm conclusions:

Turks won’t accept Greek proposals and there is no use talking about them further; on other hand, Turks will take my proposals as basis for discussion and will probably be flexible as to western boundary of Karpas Peninsula area although apparently inflexible on question of lease instead of sovereignty. (There is less than 50–50 chance they would talk about lease.)
Greeks will probably not accept anything like whole of Karpas Peninsula for Turkey, if indeed they will accept any part of it, and will be inflexible re sovereignty issue.

This leaves us with not much of anywhere to go. Question is should we accept failure and look for best way to terminate talks, or should we try to continue until something happens on Cyprus to blow everything up? Argument for first course is that chance of avoiding violence and consequent Turkish intervention might be increased if Makarios knew Geneva talks were dead and he would probably get UNGA support for independence. Arguments for second course are simply good old bulldog spirit and chance miracle will happen.

In any event, I would not propose to leave Geneva before Mediator returns from his trip next Friday. I shall see him tonight or tomorrow morning to report. When we do leave, I would imagine best course would be for me to say nothing here and Dept simply to say that I am coming for consultation and that timing of my return to Geneva is uncertain.

Would be glad to have comments and reactions of addressees.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 CYP. Secret; Priority; Exdis-TAG. Repeated to Ankara, Athens, London, USUN, DOD, CIA, and the White House.
  2. Document 123.