23. Telegram From the Department of State to the Mission to the United Nations1

2377. There are number important points which we believe need to be pursued re establishment and operation of UN Force in Cyprus: [Page 47]

Three month period for which force established is absolute minimum within which we can reasonably expect mediator to make any headway toward permanent settlement. It therefore desirable that date at which writ for force starts to run not begin prematurely. We note that Cypriots themselves consider logical date for three-month period to begin is date of placement of UN troops in Cyprus rather than date res adopted. We hope Thant will bear this in mind by formally designating establishment of force only when he has sizable contingents (2,000 to 3,000 non-UK troops) on the ground. If UK has not yet turned over British units to SYG control, as London’s 43572 would indicate, this should give U Thant additional time to maneuver on effective date on which UN force becomes operative.
Septel deals with question size UK contribution to UN.3 In discussions with SYG and Bunche, you authorized draw on this message to indicate our views on this subject.
We understand Sweden insists it not be only neutral country and hope SYG continuing press Irish and Finns to contribute at least some troops. (We understand Brazil will probably not contribute troops because of domestic considerations, and in view of their extraordinarily high per diem requirements would not be disposed to push them to participate.)
We concerned that as things are now going SYG will not be able muster minimum force of 10,000 men unless UK keeps all its present forces in Cyprus and we assume they will be most reluctant if not totally unwilling to do so. We find it difficult believe that Cypriots would not accept Danish contingent if they can accept UK and Canada. Since Danes apparently willing and eager serve, we think SYG should at least urge Cypriots reconsider question Danish participation.

Major problem which will confront force once it established is precise terms of engagement under which it will operate. We note that Canadians, Swedes, and UK concerned on this score. It is unrealistic to expect that countries will put their troops into field under SYG’s command until they know more clearly than they are told in SC res what ground rules are under which troops will be used.

One of most difficult questions likely to be what UN force should do re armed irregulars and Greek Cypriot police. Makarios will undoubtedly try use UN Force to help disarm Turkish Cypriots. Any such move, of course, would be totally unacceptable in Ankara. Since dispute in case is between two communities in Cyprus, UN would need to operate in even-handed fashion and can hardly lend itself to disarming one party to [Page 48] dispute while leaving other in control of security force. Alternatively, Makarios might try use his augmented police force to disarm Turkish Cypriots while UN Force is on the ground, assuming latter will restrain Turks from invading Cyprus. This would pose much more difficult problem since Makarios would argue this is exercise of sovereign powers of GOC. In fact, of course, Constitution gives Turkish Cypriots veto power in field of security, and use of police force clearly falls within this provision. UN could refuse permit disarming of Turk Cypriots by police since this would inevitably lead to violence between communities and SC res calls on UN Force to prevent recurrence fighting.

With a mandate of only 3 months and resolution directing force “to use its best efforts to prevent a recurrence of fighting and as necessary contribute to maintenance and restoration of law and order and a return to normal conditions”, UN’s role would be that of UN policeman. That is, UN Force should interpose itself between two communities preventing hostilities, arranging cease-fires and taking any other steps it finds necessary to maintain law and order. This will involve certain amount initiative on part of UN Force and necessitate practical cooperation from both communities.
We assume that—unlike Congo where use of force authorized in certain specified circumstances—UN Force in Cyprus would use force only in self-defense.
There may also be danger that Makarios will seek to exploit the phrase “return to normal conditions” as meaning that Turkish Cypriots will have to be moved back to domiciles where they were located before current fighting began; he may argue that de facto partition has been created and must be abolished if “normal conditions” are to prevail. We assume UN would not lend itself to any effort at forced population movement. Turk Cypriots deserted mixed villages in fear for their lives and would resist any attempt send them back. For UN to do anything to abet such effort would be widely regarded as pro-Makarios move.

Request USUN discuss foregoing questions as appropriate with U Thant, Bunche and Rikhye, urging that they clarify UN policy as soon as possible so that potential contributors will know what to expect re utilization their forces.

For Nicosia

Appreciate any comments you have on foregoing.4 In addition without going into details of above, request you seek Pickard’s views on problems to be anticipated in connection with UN Force and suggestions for coping with them.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 23–8 CYP. Confidential. Drafted by Buffum and Moffitt, cleared by Jernegan and Cleveland, and approved by Ball. Also sent to Nicosia and repeated to Ankara, Athens, London, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Dublin, and Ottawa.
  2. Dated March 6. (Ibid.)
  3. In telegram 5722 to London, March 9, the Department expressed concern about the size of the proposed British troop contribution to the peacekeeping force. (Ibid.)
  4. In telegram 936 from Nicosia, Belcher expressed his view that Makarios would seek to limit the powers of the peacekeeping force. (Ibid.)