185. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Cyprus1
620. Following is uncleared, FYI, Noforn and subject to revision upon review.
In hour and half conversation on March 24, Cypriot Foreign Minister Kyprianou reviewed recent Cyprus developments with Secretary, Under Secretary, Assistant Secretary Talbot. Meeting at Kyprianou’s request.
Kyprianou said situation on island now relatively quiet. GOC seeks (1) to reduce tensions and return to normality; (2) agreement on minority rights for Turk-Cypriots. Current tensions caused by self-isolated Turk-Cypriots and their intimidation other Turk-Cypriots. Agreement on minority rights complicated by question of who are true Turk-Cypriot leaders. If there is any serious problem, it is minority rights; GOC prepared to discuss this.
Under Secretary reviewed recent talks in which we have been involved. Said GOG suggested US might seek agreement from Turkey that it not intervene on island for six months. Thus climate for negotiations might develop. GOG seemed enthusiastic about its suggestion and sent Garoufalias to Nicosia to discuss proposal. Now we hear Garoufalias has had no success in talks with GOC. Under Secretary said he wanted emphasize this Greek idea; we would cooperate by speaking to Turks only if Greece and Cyprus in agreement. What is needed is period of quiet in which parties immediately involved can talk.
Kyprianou commented GOC could never meet conditions for talks established by Turks since latter and self-imposed Turk-Cypriot blockade only causes current problems. [sic] Secretary and Under Secretary insisted there other problems such as arms buildup, relief supplies, refugee housing. Secretary said central problem that of Turk-Cypriot security.
Kyprianou replied to latter point saying he doubted Turkey only interested in Turk-Cypriot security. Partition remains final aim. Still GOC ready discuss minority rights which could be guaranteed by UN whether Cyprus remains independent or joins Greece. There could even be UN observers to oversee minority guarantees.[Page 391]
Under Secretary said these thoughts worth exploring with GOT. Pointed out formation new Turkish Cabinet2 might make explorations with it fruitful. If talks on that basis seemed impossible, then GOC should try another approach. Important point is to get talks started. But if GOC wants useful discussions, it must suspend actions which would hinder talks.
Secretary said thought had come to him which he had not explored with anyone. Present Turk-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot officials elected to govern Cyprus, not to negotiate communal settlement. Perhaps communities could now hold new elections for sole purpose electing small number delegates to something like constitutional convention. Delegates could explore possibilities of interim arrangement and then during extended truce examine possible long term solutions.
Kyprianou said his immediate personal thought was that only GOC officials could represent Greek-Cypriot side, but elections might be held by Turk-Cypriots. However, how could GOC talk to Denktash, for example, without hurting real moderates like Ihsan Ali? How could Turk-Cypriots hold free elections when extremists intimidate moderates?
Talbot inquired about possible talks with GOT. Kyprianou thought discussions with Turk-Cypriots would be easier for GOC and perhaps for GOT also. Latter would certainly participate from behind curtain anyway. Asked whether Turks would be prepared to talk directly, Under Secretary replied we did not have Turkish proxy, but since Turks ready to talk to Greeks, they might also be ready talk to Greek-Cypriots. We know Turks sick of crisis.
Talbot said recent period has been one marked by waiting for developments such as UNGA debate, mediator’s report. Latter expected within next few days, after which new phase will begin. This phase should be based on frank talks.
Kyprianou asked whether Cypriot-Turkish talks would be better than some between Greek-Cypriots and Turk-Cypriots. Under Secretary said we only interested in helping talks begin and precise composition of parties a secondary point. If talks began between Turk-Cypriots and Greek-Cypriots, they would probably eventually be expanded to include Greece and Turkey anyway. Important point is to begin talks and see how they go. It would be welcome initiative if Archbishop would inform Turkey he plans to initiate talks with Turk-Cypriots and, if there progress, Turkey and Greece should eventually join discussions. If Makarios did not want to make this approach directly, perhaps Athens could make it for him.[Page 392]
Kyprianou asked whether Turkey would accept such an approach. Under Secretary replied we do not know, but important point is to explore such ideas and see where talks might lead. Suggested recent assignment new ambassadors in Athens and Ankara might present useful opportunity. What we hope for is conversations. Immediately involved parties should determine precise procedures and USG would be helpful where possible.
Kyprianou concluded saying would wait for mediator’s report and then determine what to do next.
During conversation there were several exchanges on two immediate problems:
Red Crescent supplies: Kyprianou said GOC could not extend free entry procedures since there ample supplies on island and businessmen would be hurt. ICRC had said latest customs free shipment should be last. Under Secretary said in this problem we faced with an immediate condition, not mere theory. Lawyers should be first to appreciate importance not being too legalistic. If GOC wants meaningful talks, it should suspend actions standing in way of those talks.
Ambelikou: Talbot said current situation seriously increases tension and asked why Greek-Cypriots could not withdraw as requested by UNFICYP. Kyprianou said UNFICYP had not acted when asked by GOC and so Greek-Cypriots must now take own action to counteract Turk-Cypriot moves. UN clearly in wrong at Ambelikou. Under Secretary said UN should be considered neutral force whose requests given special consideration.
Greek Ambassador informed Talbot March 25 that Kyprianou told him that US officials had not pointed to “perils of situation” and were not “alarmed”. He was disturbed because this was counter to his reporting to Athens and his recommendations for action because of “critical phase”. We suspect Kyprianou’s remarks to him may have been ploy to resist GOG pressures. However Talbot told Matsas we would endeavor to clarify in Nicosia and Athens as appropriate.