16. Message From President Johnson to Prime Minister Papandreou 1

I have sent you separately my congratulations on your landslide victory in the elections.2 We are particularly happy that a government can now be formed soonest with a clear majority, because of the grave crisis which confronts the Western Alliance over Cyprus.

Truly, this is a time which requires the closest collaboration of all the allies concerned if we are to surmount the crisis. The US, because of its deep commitment to the NATO alliance, will do whatever it can to help. Nor are we pressing for any specific long-range solution. On the contrary, as we have repeatedly sought to make clear, the United States has no position on terms of any final settlement. What we all need immediately is the reestablishment of law and order so that the parties can proceed to the search for solutions acceptable to all.

And let me assure you that we are neither favoring Turkey at the expense of Greece nor vice versa. Our interest is—as it has been since 1947—that of supporting the security and well-being of two close NATO allies. As we see it, the common need of Greece, Turkey, the US, and the UK to stick together is paramount.

It will take the highest statesmanship on all sides, but especially in Athens and Ankara, to prevent a wholly unnecessary debacle—and one which threatens the very security of both Greece and Turkey—from being precipitated by the Cypriot extremists of both sides.

For this reason I am grateful that you won by a majority that gives you the necessary freedom of action, because we count heavily on the wise heads of you and Inonu to help find some way of stopping the drift toward communal tragedy. I have seen with interest reports that you may have been considering a new effort in partnership with Inonu, and while I do not know the details of what you may have in mind, I do want to say that in principle nothing could be more helpful than joint action by [Page 34]the leaders of Greece and Turkey in the spirit which I am sure you have in mind.

In this critical period it is important that our representatives keep in close touch with each other, in Nicosia and New York as well as Athens and Washington. We recognize the special responsibilities which Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom must continue to bear, but you may count on us as well.3

Sincerely,

Lyndon B. Johnson 4
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of Robert W. Komer, Cyprus. Secret. A copy of the message was transmitted in telegram 943 to Athens, February 20. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 23–8 CYP) The President also addressed similar letters on the Cyprus issue to Prime Minister Inonu and President Makarios. The text of the February 21 letter to Makarios is in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Special Head of State Correspondence, Cyprus. The text of the letter to Inonu was transmitted in telegram 848 to Ankara, February 20. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 23–8 CYP)
  2. A copy of Johnson’s message is in the Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Greece, Papandreou. In telegram 1261 from Athens, February 19, the Embassy commented that the main characteristic of the new Papandreou government was its “moderate nature,” noting that Papandreou had placed conservatives in key positions. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 15–1 GREECE)
  3. In a February 27 response, Prime Minister Papandreou stated his opposition to direct negotiations between himself and Inonu, reaffirmed his opposition to the use of force to settle the Cyprus issue, and called for close consultations. (Ibid., POL 23–8 CYP)
  4. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.