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

1527. 1. I called on PriMin today at his home to introduce Anschuetz, new DCM.

Conversation devoted largely to Cyprus. I expressed our satisfaction along lines of Dept’s 11722 for Papandreou’s restrained reaction to recent Turkish moves (i.e. abrogation 1930 Treaty etc.)3 and stressed need continued moderation on Greek side, particularly since events moving in Greek favor. I said in order create conditions conducive to ultimate settlement it essential that damage to Turkish prestige be held to minimum and that his cooperation in restraining Makarios this regard would be essential. I pointed out that US had made conscious effort following Cuban crisis to spare Khrushchev as much humiliation as possible.

[Page 63]

2. PriMin agreed emphatically. He said that in his recent message to Inonu—which he said was verbal one—he had stated that he recognized Cyprus presented Turkish Govt with foreign and domestic political problems (as it did for Greece), that it was difficult for either country to retreat publicly from respective positions, but that two countries must think of overall general interests in reaching final settlement. Message emphasized importance to both countries of continued Greek-Turkish friendship and that it was essential to resolve Cyprus question in order that these relations could continue. Papandreou said that Inonu had agreed but had commented that Cyprus treaties must be honored.

3. I reiterated importance of preventing Makarios from following line which would only provoke Turks. In reply, PriMin said he agreed completely, and said that he now has established “complete discipline” over Makarios. He asserted he regretted Makarios’ trip to Athens at present time,4 so soon after Makarios’ denunciation of alliance treaties, since it might be considered “conspiracy” between two leaders. PriMin said his own prestige was now at high point in Cyprus itself. In response to question he expressed opinion that if vote for enosis were held in Cyprus now, it would be unanimously supported by Cypriot public, whereas two months ago—before his accession to power—Greece’s position was such that majority would have opposed enosis.

4. I said I hoped he would caution Makarios about taking any action against Turkish unit on island. He agreed, and said he had already forbidden Makarios to do such thing and would reaffirm this warning when they met. Papandreou said he was holding Makarios responsible for the irregular Greek-Cypriot forces as well as the police. The PriMin said his plan was for Greek unit to remain in its camp (to which it had already retired) and then for the UN to pressure the Turks to do same—in this way, he pointed out, Turks would be isolated if they refused to follow suit.

5. PriMin in his frequent references to Makarios spoke disparagingly of Archbishop. He said laughingly that while Makarios was concerned with personal, temporal triumph, he preferred that Makarios be a sacrifice to “the cause of Hellenism,” following which he would be prepared to accord Makarios a hero’s role in Hellenic history. Papandreou continued that vis-à-vis himself Makarios had lost greatly in recent weeks. When Anschuetz noted that Makarios had met recently with Bishop of Kyrenia,5 PriMin said this was proof of Makarios’ present weak position, since Bishop was Makarios’ old rival, and never in the past would he have consented to meet with him.

[Page 64]

Concerning role for Grivas, Papandreou said he preferred not to have General go to island since he would rally support against Makarios and thus divide Cypriot struggle. He said it was essential that unity be preserved.

6. PriMin then went on to discuss his policy for Cyprus. He said that in order not provoke Turks he would not push for enosis at this point, or even self-determination. Rather, he would press idea of “independence” which he felt was principle that no one could oppose. The new character of this independence would necessitate the abolishment of all recent treaties which had been proved unworkable. However, the final settlement should provide full and complete rights for minority, protected by international guarantees. Self-determination and enosis would follow naturally since independent state could take any action it wished. He noted that Krishna Menon, in UN, had spoken against enosis, and that world opinion would be solidly behind principle of independence but might balk at enosis with Greece as part of settlement. By demanding complete independence rather than enosis or self-determination defeat for Turks would be softened and victory for Makarios would be more modest. PriMin seemed to feel enosis would be even less palatable to Turks at present time than solution based on “independence.”

7. Papandreou said he would cooperate with us in policy of “moderation” re Cyprus question. However, he stressed again need for quick settlement, since “time hurts.” He said he had told Makarios, and he would repeat it, that Greek Cypriots must avoid all provocation and that, even if a Greek is killed, not to make reprisal but call upon UN. He emphasized that policy of Greek Govt was “peace” and he would make every effort to achieve that goal. PriMin said we must give full support to UN Mediator in his effort to find “democratic” solution.

8. PriMin then went on to stress importance for West of a quick end to Cyprus question. He said it was unfortunate that Cypriot crisis had occurred at all since it had given Khrushchev opportunity to pose as champion of people struggling for liberty, while US and Britain were cast in light of opposing it. He continued that Communists had exploited this fact to hilt, not only in Greece and Cyprus, but throughout world and had scored point in world ideological battle. He noted that Khrushchev in particular had increased his prestige by supporting the “peaceful way” against Chinese on one hand while posing as champion of liberation movement on other. The longer the Cyprus crisis remains unsettled the greater the gain to international Communism.

9. At this point Papandreou noted newspaper report of a possible Khrushchev visit to Cyprus. He said he was going to tell Makarios such a visit was completely out of question.

[Page 65]

10. PriMin said he was deeply pleased by fact Greek public opinion undergoing change for better in recent weeks regarding Americans due to report about change in UN policy towards Cyprus. He said he understood perfectly difficulty of US position, which was to steer impartial course between two trusted allies and he could understand our reluctance to take sides. However, as between two friends this policy could only be determined on basis essential merits of case and justice of cause. In case of Cyprus it was impossible for 18 percent of population in Cyprus to run country at expense of majority 82 percent.

11. PriMin said he was concerned about position Greek communities in Turkey, but he did not think it fruitful to talk of exodus of Istanbul Greeks. Concerning Patriarch, he said he personally would not mind transfer of the Patriarchy to Mt. Athos, but that the Communists were pushing for the expulsion of the Patriarch, so that Moscow could lay claim to world leadership of Orthodoxy. This, he said, made him uneasy, since religion was one of main stakes in world ideological battle between Communists and democracy.

12. PriMin then launched attack against British policy in Cyprus. While he understood US position, he could not understand British, which had been “frantically” pro-Turkish. When I noted Turks were criticizing British also, he said that was because Turks wanted even more support. He referred in passing to newspaper reports that British had undermined MacArthur position against Chinese in Korea and added that British policy could not be trusted.

Comment: PriMin was in great form and did most of the talking in 75 minute session. His optimistic mood reflects the feeling here that the Greek cause is winning out. We believe we must take with a grain of salt his assertions about his control over Makarios until we have more proof of it than we have at the moment. He seemed acutely aware of the domestic Turkish problem regarding Cyprus which I think explains moderation of Greek responses up to present point. On other hand, it seemed clear that he had done little thinking about ways to sweeten pill for Turks if final settlement goes against Turk interests.

We have reservations about Papandreou’s estimate of preference for solution based on independent Cyprus rather than on union with Greece. His policy seems designed more to satisfy Afro-Asian bloc and exigencies of UN tactics rather than to appease Turks. We interpret his solution as meaning that under circumstances, “independence” solution would be enforced by weight of UN opinion and thereby hopefully avoid direct confrontation between Greece and Turkey which would be provoked by solution based on self-determination or enosis.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 23–8 CYP. Confidential. Repeated to Ankara, London, Nicosia and Thessaloniki.
  2. Telegram 1172, April 9, instructed the Embassy to suggest that Papandreou extend an “olive branch” to Turkey in order to facilitate a favorable settlement of the Cyprus issue. (Ibid.)
  3. The 1930 Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation. (125 LTS 371)
  4. See footnote 4, Document 30.
  5. Bishop Kyprianos, a strong proponent of enosis.