125. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission in Geneva1

418. For Acheson from Ball. To be delivered at 7:30 a.m. These are my night thoughts after reflecting on our teletype conversation this evening.2

[Page 255]
I am inclined to feel that we may have misread the emphasis in your 383.3 The Turkish counter-proposal put forward by Erim seemed even more extreme than the original Turkish position. The saving aspect of Erim’s presentation, which we may have overlooked, was a reaffirmation of GOT willingness to continue negotiations on basis your suggestions. A disturbing aspect was Sunalp’s presence as a kind of military commissar and his assertiveness, which indicates that Turk military are a force threatening to become a discrete sovereignty not wholly under Inonu’s control.
At this point, it seems essential to put leash on ebullient Turk military while moving at the same time to push a thoroughly scared Papandreou into serious negotiations on basis your proposals.
Hope of success would seem to imply that neither Greeks nor Turks take your proposals as a minimum which each must improve to satisfy its own requirements. If Turks accept leasehold rather than sovereignty then Greeks must exhibit territorial generosity. Whether Papandreou, who is both old and in bad health, could carry it off remains to be seen. But, in any event, Greeks must be told that your proposals remain the basis for negotiation since their counter-proposals have proved abortive.
The situation as of tonight seems precarious in the extreme. Even with luck we may be only four or five days away from an explosion. The signs pointing to this are the following:
The Turkish military have tasted blood. They are full of cockiness and apparently obsessed with the desire to finish the job they started last weekend. Their military plans are hair-raising since they would involve among other things taking out all airfields on the Greek mainland.
The Greeks will not be able to stand down again if the Turks move.
Makarios is putting increasing pressure on the embattled Turk-Cypriots, presumably to produce an act of provocation that will set in train events which can frustrate any settlement you achieve at Geneva.
The Turk-Cypriots are more than ever in a Gotterdammerung mood—particularly those squeezed between the Greek-Cypriots and the sea on the north coast.
We are still inclined to send Presidential messages both to Inonu and Papandreou. As we now see it the Inonu message would be stern but free from indignation.
We are not persuaded, however, that NATO Foreign Ministers’ meeting offers merely “oratory”. Both the Greeks and the Turks have military power today only because they are members of NATO. That military power was not provided for use against one another. By getting into an internecine war they are exposing the Southern NATO flank and [Page 256] inviting Soviet intervention. This was not the purpose for which NATO was designed. That point should be brought home to them. I think it might better be brought home by the NATO Foreign Ministers solemnly assembled than by the USG alone.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 CYP. Secret; Immediate; Nodis-TAG. Drafted and approved by Ball.
  2. A transcript of this conversation is ibid., Ball Papers: Lot 74 D 272, Telephone Conversations, Cyprus Situation.
  3. Document 123.