184. Telegram From the Embassy in Greece to the Department of State1

1439. Jernegan and I called last night on Prime Minister pursuant invitation extended previous day. Costopoulos and Sossides were present as well as Anschuetz who accompanied us.

PriMin invited Jernegan open conversation. Jernegan replied PriMin might be interested in general impression which he had formed during his recent visit to Ankara. Jernegan reviewed current political situation in Turkey, determination GOT take more resolute position regarding deteriorating Turkish position on Cyprus, and desire new elements in GOT to improve their relationship with Turkish military. He noted there is no hysteria in Ankara but rather conviction that current situation could not be permitted continue. GOT recognizes possibility of war, tragic as it would be for Turks as well as Greeks, cannot be excluded. Jernegan emphasized GOT considers GOG real interlocutor regarding Cyprus problem and is therefore eager to initiate direct conversations with GOG.

PriMin expressed appreciation Jernegan’s presentation. As a political leader himself he understood political and psychological problems which confront GOT. Pending final solution GOG attempting arrange provisional solution based on maintenance of peace and status quo on island which in turn would develop better climate between GOG and GOT. As result GOG initiative GOC has been forced accept rotation, abandon economic blockade and assure there will be no military provocations or operations. These conditions were forced on GOC after threat of break by GOG. Papandreou reverted to his basic argument that failure of bilateral talks would only aggravate problem and again expressed regret he had not been able accede last summer to President Johnson’s request for direct talks.

Papandreou went on say that with submission Mediator’s report period in which talks inadvisable is drawing to an end. However, he was at loss understand how Turks could justify such pressure for talks just on eve of Mediator’s report. Following submission Mediator’s report new discussions between GOG and USG would be in order.

Papandreou noted GOT proposes avoid talks with Makarios. In fact, Turkish Cypriots virtually do not exist as an effective economic or intellectual factor on island while Greek Cypriots exist both in numbers [Page 387] and as a state. Turks assert GOG has an army in Cyprus, which is true to an extent. Greek military personnel were sent, however, to assist Cypriots who were faced with threats from Turkey at a time when Cypriots themselves had virtually no military resources and no control Makarios himself. Greek assistance to Cyprus is purely for defense, but now Turks again threaten because defense has been established. Some means must be found to break out of this vicious circle. Although GOG has moral and material force to impose its will if its demands are logical, Makarios is morally strong when he is threatened with attacks or with bombing. Since GOG has imposed its will on GOC to permit rotation, etc., Turks must now also demonstrate good faith by refraining from threats and thereby gain time to reach an understanding. War between Greece and Turkey is improbable but cannot be excluded, Papandreou said. If Turks want war they will have it because GOG cannot avoid it. However, he said, I am determined there will be 1) no pretext for war or 2) no misunderstanding which would constitute justification for war. War, if it comes, would probably not be limited. Bulgaria might move under pretext of protecting Greece while Tito would act to prevent Salonica from falling into hands of Bulgarians. I do not want historical responsibility for a war, he said, and I assure you that status quo will be maintained on the island and that there will be no pretext for war and no misunderstanding. With settlement of problem of rotation of contingent and guarantees against military provocation, dangerous aspects of problems have been eliminated. It is ridiculous consider minor economic issues as justification for actions which would cause war or peace to hang in balance. If Makarios takes any initiatives which would provoke military action, I will denounce him. I have told Makarios I will not follow him in such action and will not be led to war by him. After all, enosis will eventually be accomplished through union of Cyprus with Greece, not Greece with Cyprus.

Papandreou reiterated, as he had at our last meeting, that he regretted certain coolness which had developed in Greek-American relations as result of Cyprus. He hoped this ungrateful period will have passed without harm. Greece has been a sincere and loyal ally both in easy and difficult times and this will continue.

Costopoulos inquired whether in this pre-electoral period there is any real hope that concrete results could be anticipated from direct GOT-GOG relations. Jernegan suggested position GOT would certainly be easier if it could assert it had established contact with GOG. Urguplu is a man of good will and even Turk military do not want war, but they feel that time is working against them. Papandreou again warned that if discussions were undertaken which after a period of weeks or months were to reach an impasse, possibility of ultimate solution would become even more remote. Jernegan pointed out that if nothing happens, even on surface, [Page 388] GOG might within the same period of time find itself at point of no return vis-à-vis Turks. Papandreou insisted that indirect contacts through Acheson and Mediator had not produced an impasse, but that an impasse as result of direct conversations would be grave.

Papandreou asked toward what type final solution Turks seemed oriented. Jernegan said he had not come away from Ankara with any very clear impression. Turks seemed rather more preoccupied with concrete facts of current situation, although it had been made clear that enosis is totally excluded as a solution.

I alluded to Papandreou’s earlier assurance that there would be no pretext or misunderstanding which could justify Turkish attack and that there would be no economic blockade or difficulties regarding Red Crescent supplies. I said frankly our discussions with Garoufalias had not produced this impression, that we believe GOT is restless particularly because of alleged oppressive measures against Turk community especially with regard to economic measures. Papandreou laughed and said Garoufalias was very tired after his long meeting with Makarios and Cypriot Cabinet. He reiterated his determination to impose on Makarios such measures as U Thant or United Nations would recommend in these matters.

Jernegan noted Tuluy, new Turkish Ambassador in Athens, is an extremely well qualified and able man. Consequently, it might be extremely useful if Costopoulos or PriMin could see him soon. Even though situation may not yet be mature enough to approach question of final solution, such contact would be of tremendous value in clearing away misunderstandings of fact regarding situation on the spot and thereby avoid any explosion.

I also urged GOG not just await Mediator’s report in hope creating new situation but take immediate steps reduce misunderstanding and clear path for the future. Our talks with Garoufalias upon his return to Nicosia had not been encouraging and reports from Nicosia itself discouraging. While we have no information which leads us believe Turk community subjected to actual military threat, we are not at all confident GOC will take measures which will relieve economic pressures on Turks. In fact, according to some reports, ideas which I had discussed with PriMin in response to his suggestion and which he had accepted, had been presented in Nicosia as “American proposals” which GOC had turned down rather than alter its present policy. Position attributed to Makarios, that no flour could be included as part of Red Crescent supplies, hardly confirmed he is prepared cooperate for purpose reducing tension. It would be useful talk directly to Turks about such “details” which, small in themselves, are charged with explosive potentialities. Jernegan added it is much more important for GOG convince GOT it is sincerely endeavoring to reduce tensions than to attempt to convince USG.

[Page 389]

Papandreou said that he would see Tuluy soon, possibly tomorrow,2 and that he is prepared to tell him what he has told us. He acknowledged GOG policy may be misunderstood and said he is glad to have new persons of good will like Tuluy, Urguplu and Isik to deal with on Turkish side. Conversation with a diplomatic representative, such as Turkish Ambassador, is a natural and normal thing and would permit exchange of views without disclosing precisely what subjects were covered and without unduly exciting public speculation.

Comment: Meeting provided useful opportunity for Papandreou personally to restate directly to Jernegan line which he has been taking with us. It also afforded Papandreou with an excellent appraisal situation existing in Ankara. As indicated, Papandreou attempted to put best possible face on results of Garoufalias’ efforts in Nicosia, as well as to reiterate his thesis, more than somewhat threadbare, that he could impose his authority in Nicosia in those cases where GOG position is morally unassailable. His efforts to discount importance of certain economic pressures being applied against Turk community suggests he does not in fact have much confidence in his ability to insure a complete relaxation in Makarios’ policy in these regards. I am hopeful, however, GOG has been pushed to undertake serious contacts with Turkish Ambassador here. Incidentally, Tuluy has confirmed to me that Costopoulos had told him he wanted to see him often to discuss current matters (see Embtel 1401).3

Papandreou clung tenaciously to proposition that Mediator’s report will provide basis for new assessment of situation and possibilities long-term solution. I am not confident he is yet prepared enter into bilateral conversations with regard to such final solution. Papandreou’s comment that publication of Mediator’s report should be the occasion for further discussion between USG and GOG lends weight our suspicion that he hopes induce USG again to become intermediary.

We are seeing Costopoulos and Garoufalias again tomorrow to pursue further with them results Garoufalias talks in Nicosia. Nicosia’s 1150 and 1155 to Dept most useful.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 CYP. Secret; Immediate; Limdis. Repeated to Ankara, Nicosia, London, USUN, and Paris for USRO. Passed to the White House, DOD, and CIA.
  2. Papandreou met with Tuluy on March 27. The Embassy reported on this meeting in telegram 1446 from Athens, March 27. (Ibid.)
  3. See footnote 3, Document 183.
  4. Telegram 1150, March 22, reported the Turkish Cypriots’ need for supplies. Telegram 1151, March 26, commented on the Turkish Cypriot food supply. (Both in Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 CYP)