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

33. Had long talk with Isik last night which began as review discussions on Cyprus but progressed into unexpectedly frank exchange on situation of Greek nationals in Istanbul and Patriarchate.

Re talks, Isik said dialogue continuing with Sgourdeos but getting nowhere. GOG still says it understands necessity for compensation to GOT if agreement to be reached on basis enosis but then says it has nothing to offer.

I asked what in circumstances they then had to talk about.

Isik replied this good question and answer is that, in effort keep talks going, he and Sgourdeos indulging in form of “mental gymnastics” which taking form not of real negotiations but of discussing various aspects of question on purely hypothetical basis. However, this type of shadow discussion could not go on indefinitely and, unless something more promising develops, he will have no alternative but to abandon idea of agreement on enosis and revert to settlement based on independence.

In painting this rather bleak picture, Isik again mentioned desirability of reaching agreement in order keep issue out of election campaign but did not press point as vigorously as he had before. However, this may have been more end of day fatigue than change of emphasis.

Isik took occasion once again express dissatisfaction with unfulfilled assurances of GOG to influence Makarios to improve situation of Turk Cypriots and said improvement in this respect remained essential [Page 421] to successful talks with GOG. He also referred to various statements and acts of Makarios which apparently designed impede talks but reemphasized that real problem is situation Turks on island.

This led to his observation that GOG attempting fan flames of situation of Greek nationals in Istanbul and draw analogy with that of Turk Cypriots, which obviously unreasonable since measures taken re Greeks are normal application of law such as is observed worldwide in situations where residence permits expire. If any analogy to be drawn it should be with Greeks of Turkish nationality whose status not in question.

I observed at this point that, without going into question of law, fact is that continuing eviction of Greeks from Istanbul lends itself to highly colored treatment with result that, rightly or wrongly, it does in fact have an impact in Greece similar to that of situation of Turk Cypriots here. Thus it is a practical problem which can affect progress of talks. Viewed purely pragmatically, could not something be done to alleviate this?

Isik hesitated and then said he did recognize this and had gone ultimate limit in trying do something but that action which would have effect of non compliance with law would provoke reaction far more difficult than existing situation where various means can be used to modify application of law without actually voiding it. Isik added he had been frank in saying same thing to Sgourdeos since he believed only hope of successful outcome of negotiations was to lay cards on table.

He then added, as though thinking out loud, that perhaps just as well that presence of Greek nationals in Istanbul should be gradually liquidated since, viewed long term, it was constant irritant in Greco-Turk relations. Same could also be true of Patriarchate, especially if present incumbent continued to rely on political support of Greece and also to play international role by exchanging messages, gifts, etc. with heads of state in manner not consonant with his position as a prelate in Turkey. In situation where Turkey had abolished Caliphate as symbol of universal Islam, not permissible that Patriarchate should arrogate role to itself for which Caliph had been deposed.

Here again I intervened to suggest that, whereas this might be Turkish position, matter does not necessarily look same from outside where, although understood that Patriarch of Istanbul does not have same authority as Pope, he is nevertheless recognized as first among equals and thus not unnatural that he should be regarded at times as spokesman for Greek Orthodoxy. For instance, was trip of Patriarch to visit Pope at Jerusalem last year inappropriate?2

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Isik admitted that distinction could perhaps be made where contacts were purely religious but he once again stressed that political connections which Patriarch has been maintaining are definitely improper in eyes of GOT and could lead to removal.

I might add that, in cases of both Greeks in Istanbul and Patriarchate, foregoing is my own distillation of long and frank discussion in course of which my probing evoked replies which Isik would hardly have volunteered. Views which he did express, however, even though on personal basis, would indicate that, as prospect of quid pro quo for enosis settlement fades, GOT will be taking harder look at alternatives.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 CYP. Secret; Limdis; TOG. Repeated to Nicosia, Athens, London, and USUN.
  2. The Pope and Partriarch met in Jerusalem January 5–6, 1964.