166. Telegram From the Embassy in Turkey to the Department of State1

872. Embtel 860.2 Although our Cyprus policy as recently re-stated by Assistant Secretary Talbot (Deptel 630),3 has been not to favor particular solution but rather to lend support to any proposal that had prospect of acceptance, in fact our thinking and efforts during and even after Geneva discussions were oriented toward modified form of enosis as solution which held out best hope being definitive and of avoiding continuing trouble. However, review of recent developments in Cyprus situation indicates changes in several important factors which were previously determinants in our policy thinking.

First and most important is that both GOG and Makarios have in fact given up idea of “instant enosis”, at least for the time being. Thus, while enosis with sufficient compensations for Turkey may still remain preferred US solution it retains little value as working concept in shorter run.

Furthermore, experience has shown us that no matter how much Papandreou continues talk about building up GOG position on island, [Page 333] he has failed put GOG in position force enosis on Makarios or even accelerate pace of events. It now clear that on Greek side, Makarios and Makarios alone will call tune as to timing and nature of any significant steps toward enosis. This has obvious implications for our long-standing assumption that nub of problem was to get GOT and GOG talking, so that hopefully they could reach compromise agreement which Makarios would have no choice but accept. What has emerged, actually, is coincidence of GOT and GOC interest (though for different reasons and perhaps for short term only) in maintaining Cyprus’ independence. Logically, this should lead Turks and Greek Cypriots talk together but neither side seems ready yet recognize this as tolerable alternative to present course of mutual hostility (Deptel 642).4 In meanwhile, earlier open-mindedness of Turks to idea of modified enosis has changed. Unhappy denouement of Geneva talks and their aftermath have made even more acute feeling of Turks that they have been suffering unacceptable losses to their position and their prestige. As consequence enosis has again become dirty word for them, their whole attitude has stiffened and they have reverted to original position of federation, with partition relegated to automatic reaction if any overture made toward unilateral enosis.

Another change in policy background has to do with Soviets’ role and influence. Will be recalled one of principal reasons for seeking urgently obtain agreement last summer on modified enosis formula was to abort growing Soviet influence in and over Cyprus and specifically to forestall Greek Cypriot mission to Moscow. In interval not only Greek Cypriots but Turks have been to Moscow. Although Russians may not have intended Moscow discussions give as much encouragement to Turks as latter reflect in conversations with US and others, nevertheless discussions and joint communiqué, at a minimum, created new element of uncertainty for Greeks and expectations for Turks. Thus, although does not appear have been any change in basic Soviet position, Soviets can now win kudos from both Greek Cypriots and Turks by taking public stance in favor of independence which per se no longer appears, in Turkish eyes at least, as pro-Makarios position.

Then, there is experience of Mediator himself. Despite Galo Plaza’s inveterate optimism and political virtuosity, including close rapport with Makarios, his multiple conversations with all parties concerned have not resulted in any narrowing of gap (as Acheson’s did) but instead have served reveal that gap greater than was thought. Measure of bleakness Galo Plaza’s prospects is his decision defer submission his final report until after UNGA discussion of Cyprus item.

[Page 334]

In addition all of foregoing we constrained adduce one parochial but nonetheless important consideration, which is continuing erosion of US political stock in Turkey. Given fact we have had no choice but sail on more or less straight line between Greek Scylla and Turk Charybdis, we had to expect growing disillusionment and despair on part of Turkish friends for our failure support them in position which they consider right and honorable. This mood has gradually given way to one of adapting themselves realistically to changed conditions but at same time seeking opportunities make them as favorable as possible to Turkey’s needs, e.g., Erkin’s Moscow visit and federation pitch made to Galo Plaza.

Put in summary form, the Cyprus question, as far as USG is concerned, has changed greatly in almost all of its aspects since we became actively concerned with it.

First, problem itself has changed as our immediate objective of preventing war between Greece and Turkey has essentially been accomplished. It is true that Turks still talk grimly of war with Greece if enosis should be carried out as a unilateral act but, as prospect of such action fades due to Greek second thoughts and Makarios having other ideas, likelihood of an armed clash recedes.

But unfortunately this does not get us out of woods since original major problem has now been replaced by series of others, which are perhaps of lesser magnitude individually but taken as a whole are not only immediately troublesome but could have important long term effects in the area and on our position in it. Turkey and Greece, on whose past cooperation so much depended, are now at daggers drawn and prospects are for further deterioration. Greece and Turkey who were model members of NATO, are now unhappy critics of that organization and partisans of non-alignment are raising voices. USG is under severe criticism in Nicosia, Athens and Ankara, which is unpleasant but bearable in its spleenish aspect but has serious implications as regards our specific national interests in Greece and Turkey which tend run parallel qualitatively but are considerably greater in Turkey quantitatively. Result is that problem which started out as primarily affecting others has now become one in which our own interests are directly involved and fact that war threat has receded should not leave us in doubt as to real situation.

In circumstances it would seem this time for re-evaluation in order determine whether policy evolved under other circumstances still holds good. If so, it should be consciously revalidated in terms which are explicable in light of present realities. If not, we should see what could be done by way of modification or substitution. In this re-examination cognizance should first be taken of fact that range of possibilities for settlement has been greatly reduced by exclusion of idea of early enosis, whether in unilateral, conditional or double form. This means scrapping Geneva concept and leaves independence, even though non-permanent, as [Page 335] single remaining solution with only question being determination of what kind of independence. As matters stand Makarios and Galo Plaza appear in agreement in principle if not in detail on an independent, unaligned, demilitarized Cyprus with certain minority right provisions for Turk Cypriots, and Papandreou’s having pretty much chucked in his hand, is now taking position that anything that suits Makarios will go for him. This also would seem to be what Sovs would like since it would lead to pressure on British to give up their base rights and leave Turkey and Greece estranged and good for troubled waters fishing. This also coincides with Turkish policy to extent that it would block enosis but it leaves sharp cleavage on form which independence would take and it is on this narrowed but clearly defined gap that all the asperity and emotionalism which have characterized this problem in past are now concentrated in situation where both sides remain as deeply entrenched as ever in their positions with result that hope for agreed solution remains perhaps even more remote than before. In fact, Papandreou has categorically gone back to his original position of excluding all talks with Turks and there is no indication that Makarios, still confident of success without compromises will be any more flexible in future than in past.

It is for this reason that policy of advocating agreed solution, although having possible tactical advantages in situation where we (and also British) are at wits end act positively, is, following Geneva break-down, dead-end street as far as Turks concerned and leads them endeavor induce US break log-jam by coming out in support of what they profess believe type of independence adapted to realities of situation. Unfortunately their nerves are pretty raw these days and they sometimes put their arguments in heavy handed form which is aggravating but this should not obscure fact that, regardless of form of presentation or our ability do something about it, this is normal approach in situation where Turks still deeply feel that something needs be done to redress imbalance but repeatedly stress that they would be open to compromise if real dialogue could be initiated.

This then is situation in which we find ourselves and in light of which review would seem in order. Should decision emerge from such study to give some form of support to principles of federation, we should realize that we might be backing horse that would never get far down track (Nicosia’s 775 to Dept).5 On other hand, there would be certain equity in making attempt since it would amount to giving Turk solution fair try as we did with enosis this past summer. It is foreseen, however, that it would be difficult to give type of general pig-in-poke endorsement of federation which Turks suggest. Furthermore, it would seem to be [Page 336] wishful thinking on part of Turks to assume that a word from US would cause Galo Plaza to retrim his sails and still more improbable that Soviets would fall in line (although, unlikely as it may be, sight should not be lost of possibility that they might take initiative themselves if this suited their purposes. After all in terms Soviet geopolitics Turkey easily remains at top of priority list). However, this does not alter fact that real imbalance exists, that Makarios has upper hand and that some concession by him is essential if matter is to be directed on more hopeful course. This observation is made in knowledge that current GOC policy is antithesis of this and that they too urging US abandon policy of neutrality (Nicosia’s 789 to Dept),6 which natural as far as GOC concerned but would make shambles of our relations here for simple reason that it would be directed to solution of greater rather than lesser imbalance in situation where our influence should presumably be directed to latter not only as matter simple justice but also in our own over-all interests. If USG, hopefully with assistance of Galo Plaza, could use influence to persuade GOC to undertake negotiations in spirit of sincere compromise there might be some hope. If not, all doors for helpful action prior UNGA would seem tightly shut since obvious GOT unable take initiative in absence some favorable indications in Nicosia or Athens.

Question currently posed, therefore, is whether we see any useful purpose could be served by putting renewed pressure on GOC primarily and GOG secondarily to take first step toward compromise solution and mutatis mutandis advise Turks as discreetly as possible of our views. In so doing, would be important make clear we not washing hands of Cyprus, that any limitations on our action are result of careful re-examination of facts and that we shall do our best be helpful as situation develops, especially in UNGA.

Incidentally, British Amb tells me Erkin approached him last Thursday in much same sense he had talked to me two days before (Embtel 856)7 except that he included UK along with US, Soviets and Mediator in array which could push federation over goal line and focussed approach on immediately following visit of Mediator in London. German Amb told me he was also approached on same day by Bayulken and German support solicited on assumption that Galo Plaza left Ankara sympathetically disposed to federation idea.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 CYP. Secret; Limdis. Repeated to Nicosia, Athens, Paris for USRO, London, USUN, and Moscow.
  2. Telegram 860, November 26, suggested delaying a U.S. response to questions raised by Foreign Minister Erkin. (Ibid.)
  3. Dated November 21. (Ibid.)
  4. Dated November 25. (Ibid.)
  5. Telegram 775 from Nicosia, November 27, reported that a Cypriot federation could only be imposed by force. (Ibid.)
  6. This reference is incorrect; the correct telegram has not been identified.
  7. Dated November 25. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 CYP)