254. Telegram From the Embassy in Greece to the Department of State1

3802. NATUS Info. Cyprus

Discussions we have had in past few days with persons who participated in Crown Council on Cyprus held Feb 6 have disclosed that Makarios reassured Council on basis his personal knowledge that US would intervene at appropriate moment as mediator to settle problem, enforce negotiations, and could be counted on to prevent Turks from taking any military action. This disconcerting information comes from several sources, as detailed below.
I met with ex-FonMin Toumbas Feb 8 at his request. He said he wishes brief me on Crown Council, which he considered of interest to USG. According Toumbas, Makarios took strenuous objection to resumption dialogue, which he considers futile endeavor. When Toumbas asked Makarios if he could offer alternative to dialogue in view [Page 537] deadlock reached with Cyprus issue, Archbishop replied he had good reason believe US would intervene as mediator at appropriate moment and start negotiations in which US, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus would participate, probably under aegis U Thant or some other well-known personality. Archbishop was vague and mysterious on this point, but he gave Council impression some American had whispered to him that that would be case. Toumbas stated he did not believe Archbishop was referring to American Ambassador Nicosia or any other senior officer of Embassy Nicosia, but he wondered whether an American possibly of junior rank might not have whispered something to that effect to Makarios in Nicosia. Toumbas asked me if I could confirm this. I replied in negative and assured him position my government had been made very clear to all parties concerned on number of occasions.
Toumbas said he pointed out to Makarios with firmness that Greece’s foreign policy could not be based on mere assumptions but on facts only. Archbishop reiterated his belief that US would intervene at appropriate time. Toumbas commented that one good result of Council was that all political leaders present agreed on policy to be followed. Furthermore, after hearing Makarios they became convinced he does not want enosis. I asked if it could be taken for granted that Makarios is now fully acquainted with all phases dialogue. Toumbas replied that full text synopsis (three pages) of minutes of dialogue, signed by Caglayangil and himself, had been read to Archbishop and that note to this effect had been made in minutes Crown Council.
Toumbas continued that he is worried about maintenance peace in Mediterranean and involvement his country as well as repercussions on Greece’s allies. He is not convinced Paraskevopoulos government is in position handle problem effectively. Though he considers Economu-Gouras intelligent and able diplomat, he feels Gouras will be at disadvantage when he meets with his Turkish colleague. He will not be able to speak as equal to equal. With responsible politician at head FonMin, situation would be different. Toumbas at this point gave example of how a politician can assume responsibility in critical situation. He said that at time he was discussing Czech arms question with Caglayangil and NATO he had not hesitated to send telegram to Greek Amb Nicosia instructing him to return to Athens if Makarios did not comply with obligations he had accepted in connection Czech arms. It had been only after Alexandrakis had shown this telegram to Makarios that latter realized how serious situation could become if he failed comply with prior agreement.
I told Toumbas I shared his anxiety, particularly in view fact I have been hearing from Greek friends that they do not doubt USG will intervene in case Turkey should decide attack. I added that from such assumptions, miscalculations and frustration could very well result, precipitating [Page 538] an extremely serious situation. It would then be impossible to make the Greeks believe that the US had given prior warning that it would not be able play again the role which Greeks apparently expect of it. Toumbas said he fully agreed.
DCM elicited following from Progressive Party leader Markezinis, who also participated in Council. Principal results Council were: (a) unanimous agreement dialogue should continue; (b) agreement to proposition that enosis can only be achieved if some sort compensation (undetermined) is given Turkey in exchange (although not specifically agreed, consensus was that this compensation could not be territorial); and (c) agreement that GOG could offer NATO base with Turkish participation to be located on an existing British base, presumably Dhekelia. Makarios apparently pointed out that this would be decision of GOG after enosis. According Markezinis, debate was dominated largely by Makarios and himself. At one point Makarios implied that because of his close relations with certain American sources (unidentified) he is in position know that Turks are bluffing and that the Americans, already preoccupied with Vietnam, would never permit Turks to resort to another military action which would produce crisis in this part of world. Markezinis feels that, despite apparent unanimity achieved as result Crown Council, Makarios and perhaps others have already begun undermine situation. Belief exists in some Greek military quarters that the Americans will, in last analysis, prevent any resort to force by Turks.
Feb 9 I had long meeting with former PriMin Stephanopoulos, also a Council participant. He expressed anxiety because Makarios had come out strongly against resumption dialogue. In effort convince Archbishop Greek political leaders had used argument resumed dialogue would serve only to elucidate certain obscure points in dialogue carried on by previous government. Makarios’ view was that talks with Turks are futile since he is determined not to offer anything in exchange for enosis, or for guarantee of continued independence, and therefore continuing dialogue would only cause Turks to believe Greeks and Cypriots are worried and afraid, with result Turks would be even more demanding. In support his negative attitude on dialogue Makarios displayed to Council paper in English, which bore no signature but which he alleged he had received from an American source. This paper gave him assurance that if Turks decided launch an attack they would be stopped by us. Under these circumstances Makarios took position that situation should be allowed remain more or less as is. Turks are confined to small pockets and are subject severe economic hemorrhage, whereas rest of Cyprus is prospering economically. At this point Stephanopoulos said he remarked it may well be so with Cyprus, which is receiving considerable aid from Greece and UK, but it is not case with Greece. Turning to George Papandreou and Kanellopoulos, Stephanopoulos made point that they, [Page 539] who both hope govern Greece soon, [garble—must?] think not only of what helping Cyprus is now costing Greece but also of what sacrifices will be required in order fill in gaps in Greek economy. Stephanopoulos also reminded Council that General Tsolakas had said earlier to group that in case Turkish attack immediate defense requirements of country would amount to two hundred million dollars. Turning then to Makarios, Stephanopoulos remarked that in these circumstances should enosis be achieved a flourishing Cyprus would not receive much benefit from mother country, which would be in poverty. There can be no happiness in Cyprus if there is none in Greece.
On question Czech arms Makarios told Council he did not anticipate violent reaction on part Turks. As evidence he cited call on him by American Ambassador Nicosia three days before arrival of arms via Yugoslavia. He knew their types and numbers. According Stephanopoulos’ account, Makarios quoted Ambassador Belcher to effect that if arms were not distributed at once and if provocations by Greek Cypriots were avoided, Turks would not react strongly. I expressed strong doubt that any American official could have made such a statement. On contrary, I said, USG efforts have consistently been directed to getting Czech arms under effective UN supervision. Stephanopoulos continued that at this point in their exchange he reminded Archbishop that his government had first learned of Czech arms from Turks, who in turn may have received information from Americans. In any event, former PriMin continued, so far as he concerned Turks had protested very strongly and whole incident had left GOG exposed in eyes international public opinion. Turks were no longer content to threaten merely to supply their compatriots with additional arms but had even asked that Czech arms be reexported from Cyprus. Archbishop responded vaguely that he had probably forgotten to inform GOG about these arms when he had been in Athens in November 1966.
In face Makarios’ insistence that dialogue not be resumed, Stephanopoulos suggested to King during an interval in Council session (Paraskevopoulos was present) that it might be well to tell Makarios that if he did not agree with Greek political leaders on resumption dialogue it might become necessary alter instructions of Greek forces in Cyprus. King and Paraskevopoulos agreed to this tactic and it was decided PriMin would break news to Makarios. All three, however, first sought opinion of Kanellopoulos, who, on hearing proposal, threw up his hands and said, “Never, never, we can never say that to Makarios.” Idea was at once abandoned. It was finally decided PriMin would issue statement to press that Crown Council had unanimously decided resume dialogue. Stephanopoulos commented that Makarios had very reluctantly gone along.
What had come out clearly in Council discussion, Stephanopoulos said, was that both Panpandreou and Kanellopoulos had committed themselves to accept no solution to Cyprus issue that was not acceptable to Makarios. This left Stephanopoulos deeply troubled. On this basis, what future could the dialogue have?
Stephanopoulos asked me if paper produced at Council by Makarios could be of American origin. I expressed strongest doubts. I added that I shared his anxiety, for situation as explosive as present one could easily get out of control. Dialogue had virtue that talking is better than doing nothing. I asked if idea of a NATO base had come up in Crown Council. Stephanopoulos said that whereas this idea had originally been proposed by Makarios, he is now clearly uninterested in this solution.
Stephanopoulos said he would be seeing King within 24 hours and asked if he might tell him what, in my opinion, USG would do in case Turkish attack. I replied that I doubt that at present anyone can answer that question. We would expect to weigh in with countries concerned in attempt to avert calamity to themselves and Alliance. Matter would also come up immediately in UNSC, which would obviously try to stop fighting. But it is difficult to determine if that could be accomplished in situation where a country has decided to resort to arms in defense its national interests. But it would be risky in extreme to pursue a policy based on assumption US or UN efforts would be successful. Experience has shown, I continued, how difficult it is for USG, UN or anybody else to stop two nations from bringing to a climax an issue which they have failed to solve at less heated levels. I cited India-Pakistan and Israel-Arab states as examples. As for Cyprus, should fighting ever break out a very grave factor which US and NATO would have to consider would be Soviet reactions. Would Soviet Union limit its responses to propaganda field or act in other ways as well? I hope I conveyed to Stephanopoulos the impression that we would always be interested and concerned but that Greece could never count on the Sixth Fleet’s being at its beck and call if because of Makarios’ intransigence it failed to negotiate seriously toward an understanding with Turkey.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 CYP. Secret; Priority; Limdis. Repeated to Ankara, London, Nicosia, Paris, USUN, and Naples for USDOCO South.