46. Letter From the Ambassador to Cyprus (Belcher) to the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Jernegan)1

Dear Jack:

The Greek Cypriot leaders have made clear they intend to use the UN as a forum to press their case both in the Security Council in June and in the General Assembly in the autumn, by which time they expect Tuomioja’s mediation efforts will have failed. They expect to have adequate support not only to get the item on the agenda but also to secure endorsement of the general principles they espouse: an independent, unitary state; majority control; minority safeguards; right of self-determination. If this is secured, they will proceed, with or without Turkish Cypriot cooperation, to draw up a new constitution, have it endorsed by plebiscite, and implement it.

The Cyprus problem would remain, but in an altered state. The Greek Cypriots would have international moral endorsement of their efforts along the above lines, and conversely, justification for continued Turkish Cypriot legalistic opposition to these efforts would be thrown into doubt, particularly if convincing security guarantees were provided.

It appears inevitable that the GOC will seek General Assembly endorsement of the above principles, which underlie our own system and which command the obvious dedication of the overwhelming majority of the Cyprus population. The vote on some such resolution will obviously pose a difficult problem for the USG. The Soviet Union and East Europeans will have no such scruples as we and can pose as the “true supporters of democracy” unless we can find some way to appear [Page 97] on the positive side of the debate and the vote. While recognizing the very difficult problem this may pose vis-à-vis Ankara, we believe it would be harmful to our overall interests here and elsewhere for the US to oppose such a resolution or abstain. To prepare for this likely eventuality, we believe the United States should commence now to plan a policy evolution which would permit positive endorsement rather than awkward abstention. It might be well for us to coordinate such an effort with the British, who will presumably be in a similar position at the General Assembly because of the need to protect their Sovereign Base Areas.

I realize this will have to be undertaken with considerable finesse in view of the assurances given Erkin that the United States will exert maximum effort in the UN and among the parties concerned to see that justice is done and that Turkey does not suffer humiliation. The obvious problem here is the interpretation of what constitutes “humiliation.” The GOT can be expected to interpret this as broadly as possible. For our part, I believe we should from the first make clear that the key word is justice, and in our view a just solution must accord with the political facts of the situation in Cyprus. In this context, we should exert our maximum efforts to see that the wording, specific details and manner of presentation of any specific proposals are such as to avoid offense or humiliation to the GOT. Aside from the proceedings at an early Security Council meeting, I have in mind of course, the probability that Tuomioja will, as a minimum, make a report of his views on settlement to U Thant. As suggested in my tel 1235 to the Department,2 the use of his report by SYG is something we would want to influence.

Aside from considerations of face, the principal fears of both the GOT and the Turkish Cypriot Community appear to revolve around the question of security. To win even reluctant Turkish acquiescence to a Cyprus solution, some promise of security must be held out to Turkish Cypriots and Turks alike. Specific discussion of ways to cope with Turkish Cypriot and GOT security problems would demonstrate our appreciation of their legitimate concern in this area and should at the same time lead their thinking into more productive and realistic examination of practical problems rather than the present immobilism of extreme and adamant positions which ignore the political, economic and arithmetical realities of this Island.

Sincerely yours,

  1. Source: Department of State, Cyprus Desk Files: Lot 67 D 412, Letters from Post—1964. Secret; Official-Informal.
  2. Telegram 1235 from Nicosia, May 14, reported Tuomoija’s views of the likely contents of his report to the Secretary-General. (Ibid.)