168. Memorandum of Conversation1



New York, November 1964


  • The Cyprus Problem


  • U.S.
    • The Secretary
    • John Baker, USUN
  • Cyprus
    • Foreign Minister Kyprianou
    • Zenon Rossides, Permanent UN Representative

During his December 4 talk with Foreign Minister Kyprianou, the Secretary asked him for his evaluation of Soviet policy. Kyprianou stated that when he was in Moscow at the end of September 1964,2 the Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister, Kuznetzov, had told him that the Soviet Government prefers Cyprus to remain an independent state. Enosis would bring about the union of Cyprus with a member state of NATO. Kyprianou stated, however, that Kuznetzov had remarked that if the people of Cyprus want enosis (union with Greece), the Soviet Government would respect this preference.

Kyprianou stated that the Soviets had described to him the line which they were getting from the Turkish Government on federation. Kyprianou stated that he told the Soviets that this solution was out of the question completely. It was not a solution at all, he said—it would lead to partition.

Kyprianou observed that he did not see Khrushchev during his visit but that he had been introduced to Kosygin with whom he had a lengthy conversation. Kosygin was not yet then Prime Minister.3

The Soviets further told Kyprianou that they continued to regard the London treaties of Cyprus as unequal, exactly as Soviet Representative Fedorenko had stated in the Security Council.

Kyprianou remarked that he thought there was little change in the Soviet position on Cyprus except for the fact that they might be getting [Page 341] closer to the Turks on the question of opposing Cypriot union with Greece. He believed that the Cypriots could still count on Soviet support on matters such as Cypriot independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty.

In response to the Secretary’s question as to whether or not a General Assembly discussion of Cyprus would embitter the atmosphere, Kyprianou replied that the Assembly debate would help if it produced the right kind of resolution. Such a resolution might provide a way out of the problem of finding a solution to the Cyprus question. On the other hand, if the Assembly does not produce the right kind of resolution, the mediator’s role would be frustrated or ended by “developments”. Kyprianou later observed that if it were not for the tactical problem, the Cypriot Government could even suggest in the debate the inclusion in the resolution of statements on guarantees for the Turk Cypriots in order to make “the way out” easier for the Turkish Government with its own military people. Kyprianou remarked that in Turkey, public opinion does not exist.

The Secretary observed that the Security Council had noted the importance of an agreed solution to the Cyprus problem and remarked that the Assembly could not circumvent that.

Foreign Minister Kyprianou replied that by avoiding any mention of how the settlement will be brought about and by enunciating principles which would set the framework for a solution, the Assembly could play a useful role. Kyprianou stressed that he did not want anything in the Assembly resolution which would strengthen the veto which already is implicit in the agreed solution formula.

The Secretary observed that the trouble with enunciating principles of the Charter was that one can cite principles which clash. Kyprianou replied that “we like all articles of the Charter”. He said the Government of Cyprus supports respect for treaties but not treaties or interpretations of treaties which are in contradiction with the Charter, which supersedes all treaties according to Article 103.

The Secretary asked what progress had been made on his suggestion of “killing the Turk Cypriots with kindness.” Kyprianou observed that he had relayed to Makarios Secretary Rusk’s advice in this regard.4 He stressed that there had been progress in restoring normal conditions stating that in Limassol, Larnaca, and Famagusta things were entirely normal as far as free circulation was concerned and in Paphos conditions were improving, although there was still a problem of Turkish Cypriots being prevented by the Turk Cypriot leadership from returning to their homes. Kyprianou stressed that the central problem is in Nicosia “where the Turkish Army is.”

[Page 342]

Kyprianou described the new law on the judicial system and the makeup of the Supreme Court. He emphasized that Turkish judges were taking part in spite of the opposition of the Turkish Cypriot political leadership. He said he believed the judges had convinced the Government of Turkey that it was in the interest of the Turkish Cypriot people for these judges to participate in the new judicial system.

Kyprianou observed that the Government of Cyprus is trying to implement a new law unifying the municipalities.

He also observed that a small Armenian minority was suffering worse than either Greeks or Turks on Cyprus, stating that the Armenians suffered mainly at the hands of the Turks. Kyprianou stated that if the Turkish Cypriots would open up their communications and permit their people to move freely out of their sections of town and permit Greeks to move freely through them, it would be a big step toward the return to normalcy.

The Secretary asked what the economic balance sheet for 1964 of Cyprus would be. Kyprianou replied that exports had increased and imports had decreased, improving the balance of payments. The Secretary observed jestingly that perhaps there were some imports in 1964 that were not on the customs lists.

Ambassador Rossides asked the Secretary what would be useful in an Assembly resolution.

The Secretary stated that he felt that the process itself of discussing Cyprus in the Assembly was an inflammatory one, and stated that he was studying Article 33 of the Charter on whether or not it was wise to resort to the General Assembly with a problem of this kind.

The Secretary asked Kyprianou if his Government had any contacts with the Turks and their leaders. Kyprianou replied that there were none and that such contacts were very difficult. He observed that the mediator kept in touch with Turk Cypriot leaders. Kyprianou said that in London on his way to New York, he had heard a rumor that there would be some changes in the Turk Cypriot leadership on the island. This rumor suggested that certain Turk Cypriot leaders would be leaving the island and certain other ones coming in to take their places.

The Secretary inquired as to what possibility there was for the parties to the Cyprus dispute to “trade” and through a quid pro quo work out a solution. Kyprianou stated that the Cypriot bargaining position was weak. Cyprus had nothing to offer. All it can offer is guarantees to the minority. But it cannot offer part of Cyprus to Turkey, or “we’d all be hanged.”

The Secretary observed that we did not see any solution now. Kyprianou stated that the Government of Cyprus does not see a solution either and was therefore not urging Galo Plaza to bring out a report [Page 343] before the General Assembly met. Galo Plaza was looking forward to the Assembly, he said, hoping it would assist his work.

Kyprianou then went over the primary Turkish Government sine qua nons in the Cyprus problem:

Rights of the Turkish Cypriots

He remarked that if the Cypriots were to be independent, they could not accept demilitarization of the island, unless the Turks did likewise.

If the solution were enosis, however, demilitarization could be involved. Foreign Minister Kyprianou observed that a UN guarantee could perhaps be obtained.

The Secretary asked what progress was being made internally with the Greek Cypriots on the shape of a solution. Kyprianou remarked that some Turks were amenable to an agreement, but without Turkish Government agreement, the Turkish leadership on the island would be unlikely to be agreeable. The Foreign Minister felt that the Turkish Cypriots for the most part, do not have a preference as to independence or enosis but are most interested in where they can get reliable guarantees of human rights. He thought that they would be happy to accept these if they involve some degree in autonomy and religion, culture, education, and personal status, combined with some Government financial assistance.

  1. Source: Department of State, Secretary’s Memoranda of Conversation: Lot 65 D 330. Confidential. Drafted by Baker and approved in S on December 10. The meeting was held at USUN. The source text is marked “Part II of II.”
  2. Kyprianou visited Moscow September 26–October 1.
  3. Kosygin became Prime Minister on October 15, following the overthrow of Khrushchev.
  4. See Document 159.