216. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Cyprus Issue


  • The Secretary
  • Elias Tsirimokos, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Greece
  • Alexander A. Matsas, Ambassador of Greece
  • Marcos Economides, Executive Secretary, Greek Foreign Ministry
  • Constantaine Panayotacos, Counselor, Embassy of Greece
  • William B. Buffum, Deputy Assistant Secretary, IO
  • Katherine W. Bracken, Director, GTI
  • Richard W. Barham, OIC, Greek Affairs
  • A. Tumayan, Interpreter

In the December 8 meeting between the Secretary and Greek Deputy Prime Minister Tsirimokos the Cyprus issue came up briefly in the beginning in connection with Mr. Tsirimokos’ remarks about being reluctant to go to the NATO meeting until the Cyprus debate in the UNGA was concluded. He declared in this regard that his side was prepared to meet the Turks at any time to discuss Cyprus, but the Turks seemed to be making threats and, in general, waging a war of nerves. He did not understand their reasons for doing this but it was having an adverse effect on public opinion in Greece. In response to a query from the Secretary, Mr. Tsirimokos [Page 459] said the Greek Parliament would be in session in case there should be talks soon.

Tsirimokos asked the Secretary for his comments on a Cyprus UN resolution. The Secretary referred this to Mr. Buffum who explained that we believe a procedural resolution would be desirable and that the Afghan-Iraqi resolution comes near to meeting our viewpoint, though it has some obvious defects; for example, we would not like to see a call for “new” mediation which might change the thrust of the earlier Security Council resolution.

Tsirimokis stated that, in his view, a UN resolution alone would not bring a final solution to the problem but could have an important influence on future negotiations by the way it was worded. At the moment each side had its own text which it felt strongly partisan about, but behind the texts there were ulterior motives. The idea of new mediation represented Turkish opposition to the person of Galo Plaza. Tsirimokos asserted that he favored mediation but had no preference as far as the person of the mediator was concerned. He noted that, since there was a Security Council resolution which clearly provided for mediation, the Secretary General could change the mediator for reasons of illness or other reasons and this did not constitute new mediation. Tsirimokos went on to say that UN mediation rather than being an obstacle to successful negotiations provided the framework within which negotiations ought to take place. Certain things at times had their own mystique and this was the case with the UN at the moment; if the UN was either sponsoring or guiding mediation this would create a favorable situation.

Commenting further on the text of a resolution Tsirimokos gave the opinion that preference for the Afghan-Iraqi text was not justified because it tries to avoid mediation and so many amendments are needed that it comes very close to the Cypriot one. For example: In their text, the Afghans have put many of the Turkish slogans. They refer to “negotiations” and “mediation” whereas what we must have is negotiation within mediation. They refer to “two communities”, another Turkish slogan. They could refer instead to “the Cypriot people”, without mentioning majority or minority, or they could refer to “all elements of the Cypriot people” without using either the Cypriot or Turkish wording. Tsirimokos noted that all texts pay lip service to the principles of the UN Charter but if the text states general principles and the principle of continued mediation, then it is the Cypriot text rather than the Afghan one. Tsirimokos said he had arrived at the above views after close study of all proposed texts.

The Secretary asked if any effort was being made by a combined drafting committee to come up with an agreed resolution, to which Tsirimokos replied that he did not think so.

[Page 460]

The Secretary noted that in the context of this problem each principle of the UN Charter carries a great deal of weight. The language of principles becomes complicated, however, and, because of varying interpretations, the UN has great difficulty in settling issues based on principle. In the long run, the Secretary added, this issue will be solved not by votes but by contacts between the governments concerned. He asked Tsirimokos in this regard whether continued mediation would help or hinder bilateral talks. The Deputy Prime Minister asserted that it would facilitate talks and would also make it easier for the Greeks to influence the Cypriots in favor of an agreement.

Mr. Tsirimokos told the Secretary that Greece would like to see the U.S. and other western countries adopt a neutral attitude and not fight for one side or the other, especially where two allies are involved. The Secretary remarked facetiously that he was pleased to hear this for he had been waiting twenty years for a foreign minister to say the U.S. should be “non-aligned” in a regional dispute. More seriously, he assured the Deputy Prime Minister that this was a situation where the U.S. could not take sides. He said, however, the word “neutrality” does not apply in this case because it has a connotation of indifference whereas we are passionately interested in a settlement of the Cyprus issue. Tsirimokos, who seemed pleased, said he understood.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 CYP. Confidential. Drafted by Barham and approved in S on December 21. The source text is marked “Part II of II.”