19. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom1

5393. For Ambassador from Under Secretary. Would you please deliver the following message from me to Messrs. Butler and Sandys:

Begin verbatim text

Denis Greenhill has told me2 of your plan to approach the Greek and Turkish Governments tomorrow to urge a meeting between Papandreou and Inonu. I told him that we would ask our Ambassadors in the two capitals to coordinate with yours in order to give whatever reinforcement seemed useful.

[Page 40]

While I see great virtue in a bilateral meeting, I am not at all sanguine it can be achieved at this point. Our own tentative soundings have indicated that it will be difficult for either Papandreou or Inonu to move without at least some third party invitation and a juridical excuse for conferring.

I would strongly urge, therefore, that if the answer is negative—as I fear it will be—you consider going back promptly with a request for tripartite consultation under Article 4 of the Treaty of Guaranty. As I read this Article, consultation is not merely a privilege, but an obligation of the parties—if there is reason to believe that the state of affairs under the constitution has been altered. In order to bring the Greeks along it might well be necessary to suggest that Makarios and Kutchuck be invited to participate in the consultation.

Alternatively, we might propose to Inonu that the Turks themselves extend the invitation for tripartite consultation. This would have, however, two disadvantages. First, based on my conversations with Erkin, I doubt that the Turks would be prepared to call for a tripartite consultation unless it were clearly understood that this was a prelude to tripartite intervention. Second, the Greeks might be less responsive to a Turkish request for consultation than to an invitation from your Government.

I feel more than ever that some move of this kind is imperative. It seems evident that the Greek Cypriot game is to try to keep the United Nations proceedings going. This is a forum where they can draw support from their Communist friends. It provides them with insulation against a Turkish move while eroding Turkish intervention rights.

Bernardes, the President of the Security Council, is trying to work out a compromise resolution before Thursday afternoon. If the Cypriots continue to dig in, however, I think it may become apparent by then that no resolution can be forthcoming. The Cypriots are exploiting to the maximum Soviet and Czech support. Kyprianou has played the Council skillfully, and there is developing evidence of softness on the part of the Ivory Coast and Morocco. The increasing pro-Makarios line being pursued by Bitsios is having its effect on the Council members.

Meanwhile, in Cyprus Makarios is moving with his characteristic Byzantine deviousness. The regularizing of 5,000 irregulars looks to us as an effort to lay a basis for a request that your troops be withdrawn. There is plenty of evidence that Makarios does not want a peace-keeping force of any kind. By asking the withdrawal of British forces, he would probably discourage countries from contributing components even if the Security Council should produce a satisfactory resolution.

If Makarios can keep the matter going in New York, he probably feels that he can deal with the Turkish Cypriots without much fear of Turkish intervention—particularly with his exaggerated belief in the nature of Soviet assistance.

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Against this background, we see his call for the disarmament of the population as laying the basis for a move to disarm the Turkish Cypriots. In this connection we have good report that Papadoupulos made speech on the 24th to the Patriotic Front Deputies saying GOC has decided definitely to rely fully on Soviet support having lost hope in UN.

All these events in Nicosia have certainly not been lost on Ankara, which is presumably feeling an increasing claustrophobia. I do not think we can count on Inonu holding the line, once it becomes clear that an international force is not on. And, if the Turks sense the erosion of their treaty rights to intervene, they may feel compelled to move before it is too late.

All of these considerations seem to me to urge a tripartite meeting if Bernardes is not successful and if we cannot secure the promise of an immediate bilateral Greek-Turkish dialogue. Such a meeting would seem to offer several opportunities:

To convince Makarios that the Turks mean business and that he is playing too risky a game;
To press Makarios to accept and support an international peace-keeping force along the lines of the Thant plan; and
To undertake contingency planning for a possible tripartite intervention as an alternative to unilateral Turkish move.

I do not think I am being alarmist in feeling a deep sense of urgency. I cannot believe that the arms build-up in Cyprus can continue much longer without grave danger of an explosion.

I think it very likely that if the Security Council fades out and the Cypriots prove unable to secure an emergency General Assembly meeting the present superficial calm will give way to a bloodbath. End verbatim text.3

For Ankara: Would appreciate your comments on foregoing together with results your soundings with GOT on its views and possible actions as result of developments in Security Council and on Cyprus.4

For Athens: You are requested to comment similarly.5

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 23–8 CYP. Secret; Immediate; Exclusive Distribution. Drafted and approved by Ball and cleared by Burdett and Jernegan. Repeated to Ankara, Athens, USUN, DOD, and the White House.
  2. At a noon meeting at the Department of State; a memorandum of their conversation is ibid.
  3. In telegram 4189 from London, February 27, Bruce reported that he delivered Ball’s message to Caccia who outlined British doubts about the utility of a guarantor powers’ meeting and suggested that a Makarios-Inonu summit might jolt the Greek Cypriots to their senses. (Ibid.)
  4. In telegram 1090 from Ankara, February 28, the Embassy reported that Turkish patience with Makarios was wearing thin, but the Turks remained receptive to the idea of a “high level meeting” with Greek officials. (Ibid.)
  5. In telegram 1306 from Athens, February 27, the Embassy reported that Papandreou was unwilling to enter into direct high-level talks with the Inonu government and would probably oppose any proposal involving action by the guarantor powers. (Ibid.)