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

3819. NATUS Info. From Ambassadors Belcher, Hart and Talbot.

In meeting on USS America February 12 and 13 we have focussed on implications for US policy for Greek-Turkish dialogue and of contingent confrontations over Czech arms and Turkish troop rotation.
On dialogue, we all believe Greeks and Turks should be pressed to resume talks urgently and to stretch hard for prompt agreement. Present juncture, while full of difficulties, also offers opportunities unlikely soon to recur. It is significant that Greek Crown Council has committed Greek political leaders, at least temporarily, to acceptance of Toumbas-Caglayangil protocol worked out in Paris in December and also to continuation of dialogue, and that Makarios for moment also committed to this course, however reluctantly. Stresses of Greek politics including Makarios machinations could soon unravel current unified position, resulting possibly in new opposition to dialogue in Greece and in Cyprus and in enhanced prospects of trouble over Czech arms, rotation of troops or other areas. In short, failure to achieve settlement in very near future could make life more difficult for all concerned.
On parameters of possible settlement, Greek leaks to Embassy Athens suggest that protocol may include considerations of possible arrangements for protection of Turk Cypriots from mistreatment by majority community. Comments Toumbas has made imply he and Caglayangil may also have laid base for some status of island which would bring it under Greek sovereignty though with certain semi-autonomous fiscal, economic, administrative and political institutions. At any rate, we believe resolution of differences over status of Turk Cypriots and over some sort of commonwealth scheme should be manageable.
If our sketchy information valid, Paris protocol seems also to point way toward “NATO base” as means of giving Turkey some locus standi on island to compensate for island’s basic attachment to Greece. If Turkey willing to accept concept of a NATO base—whatever that is—in present British sovereign base area of Dhekelia, we believe modalities should be negotiable. They could include continued British sovereignty, transfer of present Greek and Turkish contingents into base area and possible addition of other NATO facilities or national units. In this solution, presumably rest of Cyprus would be demilitarized along lines of Dodecanese.
Whether Turkey would be prepared to move quickly toward settlement within these parameters is unclear to us. If so, we estimate present Greek Government with support of Palace and acquiescence of major political leaders could negotiate effectively, subject to ratification of any agreement by Crown Council and then by Parliament. If Turkey should stand on insistence that Turkish sovereign base should be established on Cyprus, then we estimate that present Greek Government would have neither authority nor support in Greece or in Cyprus to proceed with negotiations. Effective Greek-Turkish contact would then presumably be broken off at least until after next Greek elections. Since Greek political climate at that time could be less conducive to solutions based on NATO interests (see recent Andreas Papandreou speeches), we would anticipate that arena of action could shift to more direct Turkey-Cyprus confrontations. Indeed, even with progress in dialogue and almost certainly in absence of progress, coming weeks may bring serious Turkey-Cyrpus difficulties.

Following difficulties, now with us, are assessed as follows:

Czech arms: Turkey will continue to press SYG and others for UN custody but will probably settle for SYG understanding if GOC position as expressed by Rossides is made reasonably tight. However, in event distribution significant number light arms GOT would be forced to take some action to answer domestic Turk criticism that it is accepting another Makarios fait accompli. It would probably call for session of UNSC to establish that distribution contravenes 4 March 1964 SC resolution. Presumably would get some support. Minor arms infiltration might later be undertaken by Turks. This might not amount to much as it would be operationally difficult but could help to bolster GOT’s internal position vis-a-vis TGS and Parliament. Only as later or last resort would GOT attempt arms drop since, as Caglayangil has said, this would mean war on island. (Rationale: GOT aware that issuance of small arms is not sufficient to justify act of war against GOC in eyes world opinion. Having devoted much diplomatic effort over past year to winning friends, GOT is therefore likely, if GOC does not push distribution soon or rapidly, to use all diplomatic and UN channels to find redress. If these fail GOT will have to take some action for domestic reasons. A graduated series of military steps intended to galvanize favorable action in UN seems most likely. We can only speculate what these steps might be.)
Rotation: This is potentially most serious problem in immediate future. GOT has made clear it is not accepting GOC conditions set forth aide-mémoire.2 Furthermore in letter to Turk contingent commander, Chief of Staff has told him if rotation opposed Turkey “will use force.”

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If no agreement reached through UNFICYP good offices by March 31 we have assumed unarmed troops on Turk transport would not immediately attempt disembark at Famagusta but rather link up with force which usually alerted by GOT in Mersin/Iskenderun area in conjunction periodic rotations. GOT would probably then make immediate appeal to UNSC to arrange for rotation as provided by treaty and if this not accomplished, would “shoot her way in.”

Decision to inject Turkish military into either Czech arms or rotation issue would probably mean some sort of graduated action—demonstration flights, selected target bombings, followed if ultimately necessary by air drop of men and supplies and “full scale” invasion. Air drop would require full scale follow-up since we convinced GOC and Grivas would order attack.
We note that troop rotation scheduled for day before EOKA day observance and four days before Sunay due in Washington. We assume therefore that failure of parties to reach accommodation would create high tensions and that Turkish reaction might be delayed briefly so Sunay could put problem personally to USG.
In order defuse rotation issue believe we should push UN and SYG to find acceptable compromise but should not ourselves as yet get into act directly with either party. However, at some point fairly soon seems advisable approach Makarios making clear to him his views on US intervention as expressed Crown Council utterly wrong (and contrary to what Embassy Nicosia has been saying all along). Belcher would point out that US [garble] would be warned in time to try prevent start of hostilities even though we would as in past make every effort through diplomatic channels.
In view above, Ambassadors Hart and Talbot propose subject to Department’s approval to seek opportunities in next few days to explore with leading members of host governments prospects of rapidly resuming dialogue. We would informally encourage them to proceed urgently. Without interjecting ourselves into substance of dialogue, we also propose to touch lightly on such topics as possible commonwealth idea. Ambassador Belcher will talk with Makarios and selected Cabinet Ministers re Czech arms and rotation in context of US policy on intervention and at same time will attempt impress upon them fact that present is new opportunity to make progress toward solution.
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 27 CYP. Secret; Limdis. Repeated to Ankara, Nicosia, London, and Paris.
  2. Transmitted as an attachment to airgram A–137 from Nicosia, February 6. (Ibid.)