153. Telegram From the Embassy in Greece to the Department of State1
483. King Constantine asked me to see him Thursday afternoon. He handed me a letter to President Johnson, text of which being sent in immediately following telegram.2 We then talked for more than an hour about the Cyprus situation.
The King expressed his great sorrow and disappointment that the President has not found it possible to support lines suggested in the King’s message of August 253 as they had seemed to him only way out of the mess. He supposed, however, there was nothing President could do under circumstances. King said that even though Makarios has since come out against any base on Cyprus, he felt he could still hold him to his word re NATO base.
King asked how it would be possible to “trap Makarios”, whom he branded as an impossible scoundrel. I replied that it seemed to me largely matter for GOG to find some means of controlling him, pointing out that part of trouble resulted from Papandreou’s public support of Makarios to such an extent that his government had gradually worked itself into Makarios’ pocket. I said it essential that calm be restored and harassments stopped, going into such points as rotation Turkish contingent, blockade, full support of UN. The King agreed and said he thought his government was doing all possible now on this score. I suggested there was much GOG could yet do without increasing Greek forces in Cyprus, and went over Acheson’s suggestions to Sossides as well as points made by Belcher in Nicosia’s 304 to Athens,4 adding that I personally could get no sense that there was yet a line of command on Greek side. The King carefully listened to these comments and I believe took them to heart and will use his influence with government.
The King then reverted to matter of finding a solution, asking what could possibly be done. I said here again that much depended on ability and courage of government to take things in hand. He did not disagree, but reacted as do all Greeks by saying there are definite limits to Greece’s ability to persuade Cypriots. He was afraid the USG did not comprehend [Page 304] this point nor the fact that Turkey had no justification for having separate position on island provided rights of minorities protected. I again went over arguments in Deptel 4005 (which, incidentally, we have been using for some time in our conversations here but which usually fall on deaf ears), concluding that if Makarios continued his insistence on no compromises it seemed to me Greece faced a dismal outlook.
The conversation was friendly and intimate. At one time the King asked smilingly whether I wanted him to get rid of Papandreou. In same vein I asked whether he could if he wanted to. He replied he could not do so now.
He is deeply and genuinely troubled about Cypriot situation which is also having its serious and alarming repercussions in the country, economically, politically and psychologically. He would like very much to find a way to “trap Makarios” but he appears convinced that Turkish threats and air action have served to strengthen Makarios’ position.
In my talk with the King, as with the PriMin, FonMin, Deputy PriMin, and with other Greek leaders, I have been following the line that, whereas we are still most interested in helping to find way out, their responsibility for doing so rests largely with the Greek Government. I believe that psychologically this, plus the general deterioration mentioned in preceding paragraph, is beginning to have an effect. However, I have grave doubts that the Greeks will ever be able to change the attitude of the Cypriot people sufficiently to meet the demands of the Turks.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 CYP. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Repeated to London and Ankara.↩
- Telegram 484 from Athens, September 4. The letter requested deferral of any further initiatives to secure settlement in order to alleviate tensions. (Ibid.)↩
- See footnote 2, Document 148.↩
- Telegram 304 from Nicosia to Athens, September 2, suggested actions that would increase Greek control over the Cypriot Government. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 CYP)↩
- See footnote 3, Document 151.↩