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

3698. NATUS. Cyprus.

Summary: During meeting Feb 2 I raised Cyprus matter with FonMin Caglayangil, who said GOT would not accept fait accompli of Czech arms under Makarios control. GOT had taken very clear decision that if arms were not placed under UN custody, it would “by one means or another” send equal number of arms to Cyprus to restore balance. Caglayangil said GOT fully aware that armed clash on Cyprus might result. Also stated GOT would not resume dialogue with Greece until [Page 533] arms question settled to its satisfaction. (Elekdag and Turkmen also present.)
Details: I began by explaining that US takes problem of Czech arms very seriously and is concerned lest situation develop to a dangerous point. We are making constant and unremitting efforts at UN, Nicosia and Athens to obtain tightest possible arrangements to guard against distribution of Czech arms and felt we were making some progress. We have never altered our view that all parties including UNSYG should seek to obtain UN custody of arms but so far results have been negative. We have therefore concentrated on tightening specifics of UNSYG-Makarios arrangements. Mentioned particularly Ambassador Belcher’s efforts with Makarios and that Secretary had talked with Rossides (without giving substance).2
In sober tones, Caglayangil said SC resolution of March 4, 1964 provides that no one should undertake action which would worsen situation on island. At moment negotiations were started to find peaceful solution to problem, Czechoslovakia permitted arms to be sent to Cyprus. Czechs should not have done this, nor should Makarios. But there was general belief that all faits accomplis of Makarios end successfully and other countries believe Turkey must eventually accept them. FonMin underscored that GOT cannot accept fait accompli. Concerning Czech arms, GOT decision very clear. If arms were not turned over to UN custody, GOT would send equal number of arms to island to restore balance. “We have taken necessary decisions and will implement them.” FonMin continued that no one could expect nation of 32 million to accept faits accomplis endlessly. Repeated that if arms not placed under UN custody, Turkey would send arms by any means possible. This did not necessarily mean Turkey would “intervene” on Cyprus but Turkey would abide by its decision. (This statement not further explained.) Noted that UNSYG was responsible for implementation of SC resolution. Asked rhetorically why UNSYG had [not?] called Czechs to account for shipping arms. Asked why he did not now insist on US [UN?] custody. US had made representations to UNSYG and so had Turkey but UNSYG resisted démarches.
I said Secretary and our Missions at New York and Nicosia were all heavily engaged in tightening up arrangements for control over arms. I thought we were slowly gaining some ground. We would continue to work to prevent distribution of arms for indefinite period, however long that may be. Stressed that US not being half-hearted about this.
FonMin replied that whatever the effectiveness of inspection and control measures, “nothing less than UN custody would satisfy Turkey.” Effectiveness of control system would not satisfy Turkey either from point of view of measures taken or from point of view of its prestige. To my question whether this meant Turkey would not be satisfied even if control were completely effective, Turkmen replied (and FonMin confirmed after returning from phone call) that Turks could not understand how any system could be effective if Makarios retained custody and warehouse keys.
FonMin remarked that Turk Ambassador at Athens told by Greek Government that it too wanted UN custody of arms. FonMin noted Makarios does not have “effective power” on island but Grivas has it. Greek Government talks about UN custody but fails to use influence and pressure on Grivas to obtain effective control. If UNSYG would insist on UN custody, this would have effect on GOG attitude and policy. Furthermore, GOT convinced Makarios could respond to U Thant’s pressures, if exerted, without losing face.
I said our information was that no arms had been generally distributed as yet. FonMin disagreed saying their information indicated one shipment had been unloaded and was now at Nicosia. This was shipment everyone focussed on controlling. But another shipment believed to have arrived week later and was moved elsewhere on island, and distribution of arms from this shipment had occurred. FonMin pointed out that in any case it was against nature of Makarios and pattern of his behavior to have arms and not to use them.
I said we would continue applying pressure on UNSYG and Makarios on basis that only by means of such continuous efforts would we move them little by little. Ambassador Talbot in Greece had also weighed in with new Greek leaders against arms distribution.
I noted Turk press reports about possible arms airdrop. Said Embassy Nicosia’s clear assessment of effect such action was that Grivas would react immediately without waiting for Athens’ instructions and that results of clash could spread unpredictably. Parenthetically, also noted MinInt Georkadjis admission that GOG not informed in advance about arrival of Czech arms.
Emphatically, Caglayangil said GOT had already accepted that if it dropped arms in Cyprus it would not be an “excursion” but “warfare”. Raising his voice, he said no Greek political party would have courage to accept sacrifice in Greece for Cyprus. But government of technicians could do so. Instead GOG is not sincere and fails to hold Grivas under its orders. Greek politicians and Makarios are aggravating situation on island. Hellenic General Staff also government unto itself. In fact, four govts existed in Greece today: army, dynasty, GOG and opposition. Turkmen noted that several higher ranking Foreign Office members [Page 535] (Christopoulos, Rendis, Sgourdeos among others) had requested leave at same time in protest against Makarios.
I urged continuation Turk-Greek dialogue and Turkmen interjected by asking “who speaks for Greek Govt.” I asked if Turk Ambassador had not seen Paraskevopoulos. Reply was he had not. I said presumably he was point at which all parts of GOG could be pulled together. Furthermore, I convinced King was seriously and sincerely in favor of constructive dialogue. Turkmen wondered whether fall of Stephanopoulos government was not fait accompli directed against King. Caglayangil commented it had often been said that Turkey had made previous threats about landings on Cyprus. Perhaps people had been lulled into false security because landings did not take place. Turkey did not want to threaten or increase tension but situation was intolerable. If it was question of prestige for GOC and GOG, it was also question of prestige for GOT and Turk Cypriots were in danger.
To my question as to prospects of resuming dialogue, FonMin replied firmly “not before arms matter settled. It would be ridiculous.” He asked if it was not ludicrous to talk with Greece about peaceful settlement while Makarios plans how to use arms under his custody. Besides, FonMin added, if Greece cannot use its influence effectively re UN custody of arms, how can Greeks be expected convince Makarios to accept results of dialogue.
I replied it was my understanding conditions in Cyprus were quiet at this time. I then stressed utility of dialogue as means of communication between two govts and opportunity for secret talks. I said if Makarios had intended to upset dialogue he would have succeeded if it were not now resumed. Had new GOG expressed willingness resume talks at point where they had been interrupted by fall of GOT? Caglayangil twice side-stepped answering this. He wondered with whom GOT could possibly talk and Turkmen observed that Greek Crown Council had not even been able to decide to meet. Both major party leaders had expressed reservations re GOG negotiating powers in dialogue. I said resumption of dialogue would help us all and especially at UN. But Caglayangil repeated that Turkey would not resume dialogue before Czech arms were placed under UN custody and again said would be “ridiculous” for it to do so. I ended by saying US working for peace in Cyprus and I hoped this would be kept in mind.
As rather an anti-climax and prompting by Turkmen, Caglayangil then mentioned completely unacceptable conditions GOC trying to impose on next Turk troop rotation (March). No conditions whatever would be accepted and rotation would proceed backed by all necessary force. He also referred to Turk-GOC impasse over exit permit for Coskun and asked that US Govt make demarche to GOC to obtain permit. I said I would transmit this request.
Comment: At no time did FonMin mention any deadline within which Czech arms would have to be under UN custody. On Feb 3 FonMin and Turkmen both travel to Italy for 3-day visit. Unlikely therefore that Turks would undertake any diplomatic (or military) action before FonMin returns. No sign of military crank-up is observable as of now. Nevertheless, Turks clearly losing patience with attitude present GOG and are convinced only hard line will move things forward. It possible they may plan to run arms in as secretly as possible but will use overt methods if necessary to deliver or in response to further GOC provocation, such as release Czech arms or interference with rotation Turk army contingent.3
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 CYP. Secret; Priority. Repeated to Athens, London, Nicosia, Paris, Prague, USUN, Adana, Izmir, and Istanbul.
  2. See Document 252. Belcher’s February 3 meeting with Makarios was apparently moved to February 4. Telegram 1109 from Nicosia, February 6, reported that at that meeting Makarios told Belcher he intended to begin the distribution of Czech arms on a phased basis beginning in late February. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 CYP)
  3. In telegram 131270, February 3, the Department of State instructed the Embassy to inform the Turkish Government of its concern over any efforts to supply arms to the Turkish Cypriots and to urge the Turks to make their concerns about arms supply known to the Greek Government. (Ibid.) Hart reported his démarche in telegram 3735 from Ankara, February 4. (Ibid.)