9. Telegram From the Embassy in Greece to the Department of State1
1197. For Secretaries of State and Defense and Ambassador Stevenson from Under Secretary.
I have had useful detailed discussions today with Hare, Labouissse and Wilkins. In sum, they reinforce and support the tentative views of the overall situation I expressed yesterday. (Athens 1184)2
I am now even firmer in my view that the US should not put troops in Cyprus. Wilkins (who supports wholeheartedly views contained in Athens 1184)3 together with his Army Attaché [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] are all convinced Makarios does not want Americans. They fear US forces would be special target of hit and run tactics of Greek Cypriots. According to Wilkins, Pickard also agrees that US troops would be singled out more than other Western powers because of our position of leadership in NATO.
We explored possible ways that US military support might be provided while minimizing exposure of US forces on assumption some form of US involvement may be useful or even necessary to keep Turks from standing down. This included possibility of putting US troops in [Page 18] British bases on standby basis. However, we concluded this not desirable since US unit would be thrown into breach at such time as serious fighting broke out, which would be worse than being in from beginning.
Today’s discussion highlighted importance and delicacy of handling Turks so as to minimize adverse repercussions on our relations and to dampen any desire they may have to intervene in Cyprus unilaterally. As a result, it is more than ever important that responsibility for our non-participation be placed squarely on Makarios’ back. As Hare puts it, US failure to participate in an international force would remove keystone to arch, so far as Turks are concerned.
It seems increasingly likely that Makarios will cooperate with us on this since opinion of our Nicosia [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] is that Makarios could not survive acceptance of US troops. He believes Cypriot “fighters” would throw him out if he tried it.
What are the alternatives to plan as presently agreed by all but GOC? We concluded best alternative we can probably hope to achieve is modest international force under UK com and made up of Benelux, Scandinavian countries, Canada and possibly Ireland.
Force would be approved by SC but not put under its control. While such force not as effective militarily as original concept, it would provide political deterrent and help spread responsibility as UK desires. If Makarios wants such a force—and there is still real doubt that he wants any international force at all—a prearranged deal along these lines might be feasible. Hare is clear, however, that this fallback—while probably the best we can hope for—would cause Turks great anguish.
- If we are to keep the Turks from feeling we have sold them down the river, we must make strongest effort to avoid any suggestion we are weakening in our decision to contribute US contingent to international force. Any leak or suggestion from any US source indicating such weakening would be catastrophic.4
Kyprianou told me in London that GOC was planning—before dealing with question of international force—to seek Security Council confirmation of “territorial integrity and independence of Cyprus”. This was confirmed by Greek FonMin this afternoon5 who added information that Makarios planned to go personally to New York for that purpose but had agreed to defer this junket until after Greek election next Sunday (February 16). I described to FonMin how I am tentatively planning to deal with this proposal when I meet Makarios. However, I would [Page 19] appreciate suggestion of Ambassador Stevenson and Department as to best tactic. I have in mind saying following to Makarios:
- We have been the major support of the United Nations from the beginning while certain other nations that make great pretense of interest in Cypriot situation have consistently sabotaged UN and failed to provide financial support for its peacekeeping efforts.
- We are practical nation and trust that Makarios will take a hard look at the practical consequences of his proposed action.
- A move toward the Security Council on this issue will almost certainly result in the interjection of cold war politics. It will provide the forum for charges of genocide against Cypriots while speeches in Security Council will only serve to inflame passions that are already too high.
- We must concentrate on first things first and that means getting agreement on international force before involving Security Council.
Obviously this ploy may not work. Makarios apparently has naive idea that Security Council is like General Assembly and filled with Afro-Asian pals. If he insists on going ahead, however, we could probably not frontally oppose kind of resolution Cypriots have in mind. We should seek to finesse it by developing formulation we could support. In that event, each member of Council would put its own interpretation on language. Net result might be resolution putting Security Council on record that all parties concerned must keep their shirts on and avoid action that would exacerbate situation.
- We also grappled briefly and inconclusively with nature of long-term settlement. All were in full agreement we should not get into middle of mediating process. If there is a solution it is certainly not in sight in near future. Movement of population within federation seems offer some possibility but has the great draw-back of being rational and therefore not feasible. Best we can hope for in foreseeable future is to help keep lid on boiling cauldron and thus prevent southern wing of NATO from blowing up.
Tomorrow I go to Ankara to begin process of preparing Turks for turn down by Makarios and possible modest UN force alternative described above.
- Source: Department of State, Central Files, POL 23–8 CYP. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Repeated to USUN. Passed to the White House, CIA, JCS, OSD, CINCEUR, and CINCSTRIKE.↩
- Telegram 1184, February 10, reported Ball’s view that the United States should not put troops in Cyprus and should avoid taking a firm public position on the issue so that the United Kingdom, Greece, or Turkey would not back off from their commitments. (Ibid.) A summary of this telegram was provided to President Johnson in a February 10 memorandum from Bundy. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Files of McGeorge Bundy, Lunch with President)↩
- In telegram 685 from Nicosia, February 8, Wilkins warned that the British plan would fail to win Cypriot acceptance and urged U.S. support of a peacekeeping force under U.N. aegis with the participation of forces from both Greece and Turkey. (Department of State, Central Files, POL 23–8 CYP)↩
- In telegram 789 to Ankara, February 10, Secretary Rusk responded: “First purely personal reaction your telegram is that Turks might be saved if there is U.S. naval or air participation not involving U.S. ground troops.” (Ibid.)↩
- Ball reported on his meeting with Foreign Minister Palamas in telegram 1199 from Athens, February 10. (Ibid.)↩
- In telegram 793 to Ankara, February 11, the Department of State commented that Makarios had an “exaggerated idea” of what he could get from a Security Council meeting without U.S. and British support and provided Ball with a series of talking points designed to impress on Makarios the limits and dangers of over-reliance on this approach. (Ibid.)↩
- In telegram 355 from Nicosia, February 11, Wilkins reported that he had Makarios’ assurances that no demonstrations would take place during Ball’s visit. (Ibid.)↩