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

1376. Jernegan and I called on PriMin Urguplu this afternoon on what was intended to be essentially a courtesy call with additional thought that occasion might be used to do a little spade work on getting conversations started as suggested Deptel 1010,2 and as my conversation with PriMin three days before had suggested that hopes from Turkish side looked quite promising (Embtel 1355).3

Accordingly, after usual exchange of amenities, Jernegan opened on modestly hopeful note that, after long and fruitless exchange of views through intermediaries and in view of various recent events which again spotlighting problem, it would seem that effort might be made to seek results by direct confrontation which had proved impossible of accomplishment by indirection.

PriMin listened attentively and then lowered boom—very hard.

Speaking from previously prepared notes he delivered himself as follows:

Time had come, he said, to stop talking of consulting parties and exchanges of views. Have now reached stage where views and advice are less than useful; situation much too serious. Determining factor is situation on island. Weapons, officers and men have been introduced on Cyprus allegedly for defense but actually for aggression against Turk Cypriots. If Turks attacked island, these could be used against Turk forces but real objective is Turk Cypriots.

Pointing to thick file of documents, Urguplu said that they contained messages of type being received daily describing dire plight of Turks on island. Also contained in file were other messages from Washington, United Nations, etc., conveying repetitive message to effect “we are not able restrain Makarios; you must be patient”.

Furthermore, as far as UNFICYP concerned, its Commander admitted helplessness and only seemed be thinking of how evade trouble if it breaks out.

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In some unexplained way he seemed to think that some unidentified recent talk which Dept officer Churchill had with unnamed officer of Turk Emb in Washington served confirm this negativist attitude.

As consequence, situation has been reached when GOT can no longer be satisfied with “appeals and talk”; it must act. Turkish people believe their govt has left Turks in Cyprus to mercy of Makarios. GOT does not wish provoke an incident; for that reason needed supplies have not been sent in by force, but time has now come for decision and decision has in fact been taken in meeting of Security Council held today under Pres Gursel. A brief outline of this decision had been given press (Embtel 1374)4 but he would add following;

GOT intends warning GOG that, “if its inhuman actions do not stop in a very short time”, it will have to intervene (in Cyprus). GOC will also be advised.
Date has been fixed for rotation. Permission will not be requested, treaty right will be exercised. If resistance is encountered, force will be used. All considerations have been taken into account re effects in Greece and elsewhere.
Other previous unimplemented decisions of Security Council will be carried into effect after study will be completed in several days.

Urguplu then said GOT wishes make clear that it considers GOG real “counterpart” in this affair, said it was from mainland that commanders, forces and “NATO equipment” had been sent to Cyprus.

This decision, said PriMin “is most regrettable” but Turkey has been left alone and isolated and time has come when it felt it necessary act on its own.

As regards Soviets, they had brought some relief (by political support) which GOT would prefer to have had come from its allies. Furthermore, GOT knows that in US, UK, France, etc., there is greater sympathy for Greece than Turkey. In so saying, Urguplu observed that he had served in the United States, had liked Americans and had worked for and believed in American-Turkish cooperation as Ambassador in Washington, but unfortunately he does not see same understanding on part of USG now. It was hard say this but must be frank.

There were many other angles of matter which might be discussed but preferable stick to essentials. Only hope is to stop “inhuman acts” and then negotiate.

With this said, he wanted to know what we are going to do. Were we going to make new appeals? Would we again be heard saying we had tried and failed? If we continue talk only in terms of advice, he saw no [Page 380] possibility of restraining Turk public and parties (Note: this somewhat elliptical but, like rest this message, based on almost verbatim notes drafted in sequitur without editing in order assure accuracy).

Urguplu said that same matter would be discussed tomorrow with political party leaders, including Inonu. On Monday Foreign Affairs Committees of both Houses would be similarly consulted (in secret) and on Tuesday would be put before Parliament in secret session. Thus far endorsement of policy has been unanimous and PriMin was confident that would be same with parties and Parliament. After this process completed Greek Govt would be officially informed.

Urguplu said foregoing was only being divulged to us. He regretted news was not good but this was not first time that situation faced which might result in war.

He concluded by saying that he had spoken with complete frankness. Still possible that there might be last drop of that reasonableness for which Greek ancestors known.

At this point Jernegan said there were several questions which he wished pose for clarification:

When would Greeks be informed? Reply: Following conclusion of consultations with parties and Parliament.

What kind of “inhuman acts” did PriMin have in mind? Our most recent reports indicated no notable deterioration. Reply: All kinds of harassments, economic restrictions, inability move freely, “everything, everything”. For example, there were some 40 items on list of things Turk-Cypriots were not allowed to buy.

In saying that permission would not be asked for rotation, did that mean would not even inform GOC? Reply: GOC will be informed but may be at about same time rotation takes place. Galo-Plaza and U Thant had arranged for rotation toward end of month and then it would be.

How about awaiting Plaza report? Reply: Turkish people are mocking government for what is regarded as “wait and see” policy.

Not in form question but observation, Jernegan here said not correct to assert that friendship in U.S. greater for Greece than Turkey. True that there are many more Greeks in U.S. than Turks but Turkey greatly appreciated.

Jernegan also said that so-called support of Turkey by Soviet Union was hardly impressive; seemed just be lot of words with no commitment. We don’t believe that Soviets really want a solution; just playing game. We could do same thing but would be harmful rather than helpful.

To this, Urguplu replied that he was happy to hear these words of friendship for Turkey. As regards Soviets, words may be vague but friends of Turkey not even prepared go that far. What’s more, believes Turks understand Russians very well and we need have no reason for [Page 381] concern on that score. Jernegan said we did indeed understand this and it was for that reason that we had not been perturbed despite insistence in certain quarters that we should condemn GOT action to improve relations with USSR.

Jernegan then said he had noted that in my conversation with PriMin several days before, Urguplu had spoken somewhat hopefully of talks with Greeks.5 Could not suggestion such talks be renewed in intended communication to Greeks? Reply: Situation has changed. Furthermore Greeks didn’t reciprocate Turk indication of willingness talk (PriMin didn’t explain nature these feelers but Bayulken later said he probably referred specifically to talks with Greek named Drossos who recently here in guise of newsman but was regarded as informal emissary). Also situation deteriorating so fast that will be too late for talks unless urgent action taken to redress situation. To this Jernegan said he had understood time would be given Greeks to take remedial action after delivery of notice. Urguplu said this correct but time would be short.

Once again Jernegan asked what would happen if Greeks prepared talk. Urguplu said would wait while and see what happens but made clear would not wait long. In any case, talks on basis enosis out of question. Jernegan said he felt sure GOG would not insist on this.

Finally, reverting to basics, Urguplu said wished make clear that if USG should seek intervene again as it did last year, results would be catastrophic for US-Turk relations. He wished stress this. Turks are patient people but there comes a time when they will act regardless of effect on mother, father, brother or son. It is not question of talking about what Turks can do with Greeks but of what U.S. can do. If we can do nothing, “events will follow their natural course”.

Jernegan asked what PriMin had in mind that we could do. Urguplu said that was up to State Dept.

At this rather conclusive point conversation was cut short by announcement that Cabinet was assembled and awaiting PriMin.

At one point in conversation, I said that woven into the remarks of Urguplu I seemed to detect a certain suggestion of what might be termed impatience with USG of rather serious sort. If so, I wished recall that over the years and particularly since World War II U.S. and Turkey had established fine record of mutual effort in building up security strength of Turkey and also paving way for future development of internal strength. Many Americans and many Turks had contributed in this on basis of fundamental and enduring interests. Would be tragedy if Cyprus, which totally unrelated to this mutual effort, should be allowed affect basic relationship. Furthermore, in case of Cyprus itself, we had made unusual [Page 382] effort to be of assistance and fact problem had proved so intractable should not be charged unduly to us. As he had with Jernegan, Urguplu replied with right words but that was all.

Comment: Any similarity between this conversation and that of my talk with Urguplu of three days before would be that of night and day, or, to put it another way, practically all of the same points were covered in both conversations but in mirror-like reverse. It would be reassuring to discount this as being attributable to the temperamental reaction of an over-strained man such as we sometimes saw in Erkin or in a display of super-gamesmanship at which Inonu was adept, but this was seriously and ominously different.

This was not a man speaking for himself with the authority of high position but rather a man speaking under the impulsion of other forces over which he can exert little control. This is not, of course, the first crisis we have met in this wretched business but, serious as the others were, this one disturbs me the most for the reason that it seems to have developed a sudden head-long quality as distinct from previous crises where there was always an Inonu at the wheel who could be approached and could change course if he personally so decided.

Jernegan and I are having working lunch with FonMin Isik tomorrow and will see if we can find any rays of light in what is tonight very dark cloud.6

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 CYP. Secret; Immediate; Noforn; Exdis. Repeated to Athens, Nicosia, Paris for USRO, USUN, and London. Passed to the White House.
  2. Telegram 1010 to Ankara, March 16, reported the build-up of Soviet arms in Cyprus. (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 1355 from Ankara, March 17, reported on talks with Urguplu and Isik on Cyprus and the impact of the issue on Turkish politics and Greek-Turkish relations. (Ibid., POL 15–1 TUR)
  4. Telegram 1374, March 19, transmitted the text of a Turkish press release regarding a meeting of the Turkish National Security Council on the Cyprus issue. (Ibid., POL 27 CYP)
  5. Reported in telegram 1355 from Ankara.
  6. In telegram 1378 from Ankara, March 20, Hare further commented that Urguplu had stressed that mounting public impatience with the Cyprus situation was reducing his margins for maneuver. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 CYP)