172. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Greece1

961. FYI. In separate conversations with Secretary and Under Secretary January 26, Turkish Foreign Minister Erkin reported that Greek UN delegation had been in touch twice recently (apparently within previous day or two) with member Turkish delegation. Greeks had frankly expressed their growing conviction that nothing leading toward Cyprus solution would come out of UNGA. Had proposed, therefore, that tripartite Greek-Turkish-Cypriot talks be arranged. In first conversation, Turk representative had suggested Greeks talk to Kyprianou about this. Second contact was made by chief Greek delegate Bitsios who reported Kyprianou was consulting Makarios for instructions.

Erkin seemed regard this as encouraging sign and to be quite ready undertake at least bilateral talks with GOG, provided they could be kept completely secret. He asked that USG speak to Greeks, without revealing his approach to us, to urge such talks. Both Secretary and Under Secretary endorsed bilateral negotiation, and Erkin was assured we would make approach to GOG.

When specifically queried about Turkish attitude toward tripartite talks, Erkin first expressed fear British would insist upon being included because of their worries about Cyprus bases. Ball said he thought British might be so relieved to have something going on which might lead to solution that they would not insist on taking part. Erkin later said that if Greek Cypriots included in discussions, Turkey would have to insist that representatives of Turkish Cypriots likewise be present. Again indicated his preference for initial talks with GOG alone.

Suggestion was made that there might be better chance of bringing Greeks to negotiating table if Turks indicated willingness to talk about all outstanding issues between Greece and Turkey, rather than Cyprus alone. Erkin balked at this, saying Cyprus was of overriding importance, but did suggest GOT would be willing sign undertaking with Greeks to settle other problems once agreement had been reached on Cyprus. Dept officer commented this, of course, was matter of tactics which hopefully Turks could work out in further preliminary contacts with GOG representatives.

Re substance of possible solution for Cyprus, Erkin once more spoke of federation as only logical way out, since modified enosis exemplified [Page 350] in first Acheson Plan had proven unacceptable to Greeks. Insisted that physical separation of Greek and Turkey Cypriots would not be nearly so difficult as people asserted. More than half Turkish Cypriots were concentrated in area north of Nicosia. (Dept officer pointed out these people would need much greater area than they currently occupied if they were to support themselves permanently. Erkin agreed.) Turkey, he said, would not insist on forced transfer of all Greeks out of Turkish area or all Turks out of Greek area. It would undertake not to annex Turkish area to Turkey unless Greece took rest of island for Greece. We avoided any commitment to support federation, saying we still believed parties must work things out among themselves without outside intervention.

There was some discussion of UN Mediator’s position, with Erkin reporting he had seen Galo Plaza January 25. Plaza had said he would make final round of capitals concerned after UNGA debate on Cyprus and then submit report. If it appeared debate was to be indefinitely postponed, he would make his rounds without waiting for it and submit report. It was agreed this line presented dangers and that Dept would try to talk things over in Washington in near future. It was also agreed, at Erkin’s insistence, that nothing would be said to Mediator about possible Greek-Turkish talks. End FYI.

In light of foregoing but without revealing any knowledge of Greek approach to Turks or Erkin’s approach to us on subject, please take earliest opportunity renew to Papandreou or Costopoulos our suggestion that direct, private negotiations between parties immediately concerned offer best hope of progress toward Cyprus settlement.2 You may put forward as our view growing conviction that UNGA debate and whatever resolution may emerge from it is most unlikely move question any farther forward. In fact, we could not say with any real confidence at this moment that debate will even take place in near future in view of situation in GA. Therefore, it seems futile to lose time and possibly see situation deteriorate while waiting for something which has so little promise of positive results. We continue believe GOT desires talk to GOG, probably secretly at first, and hope GOG will make contact directly to explore this with Turks.

If Greeks insist on participation Cypriot Government in talks you should urge they keep open mind on this and not make it firm condition. Important thing is to get something started. From past experience we would judge both Greeks and Turks would prefer avoid public attention [Page 351] to their contacts, and this would obviously be much more difficult if additional parties added to negotiations in early stages.

If it seems appropriate, you may say that we do not think it would be helpful to bring UN Mediator or other outsiders at this stage (including US) into picture. FYI. We think Turks distrust Plaza so much they would refuse even to begin if he were in any way involved.

On January 27 Ambassador Menemencioglu informed us Greek UN delegation again in touch with Turkish delegation with news that Makarios believes time not right for tripartite talks. Menemencioglu consequently feels chance for successful outcome of recent contacts remote. End FYI. Nevertheless, we believe you should proceed with above approach and point out to Greeks that some kind of bilateral talks even more essential if Makarios unwilling enter discussions at this time.

For Ankara: Our reading of developments in Nicosia suggests talks have better chance of evolving if GOT would exploit current sparkles of interest on part of Greek-Cypriots in talks with Ankara Turks. In any event it would help GOG exercise influence over Makarios (if that is Erkin’s aim) if GOT would carry on facade of discussion with Makarios, even though it pins more hope on working out solution with GOG.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 CYP. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Drafted and approved by Jernegan and cleared by Talbot, Bracken, Sisco, and Springsteen (U). Also sent to Ankara and repeated to London, Nicosia, and USUN.
  2. Telegram 1163 from Athens, February 2, reported that the Greek Government had responded to Turkish suggestions by encouraging dialogue between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Costopoulos added that a change in the Greek approach might be possible depending on future Turkish moves and the outcome of the General Assembly debate on Cyprus. (Ibid.)