118. Briefing Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Hartman) to Secretary of State Kissinger 1


The return of Konstantine Karamanlis to Athens and the formation of a new Greek Government under his leadership represents a fundamental change in the political structure in Athens and the best hope for an early settlement of the Cyprus crisis.2 It is not yet clear whether the summons to Karamanlis was made with the concurrence of Ioannides, but it is doubtful that he will ever be able to regain the kind of power that he has exercised since last November.

Karamanlis was Prime Minister of Greece from 1955 to 1963 when he went into voluntary exile in Paris. He is the most respected political figure in Greece, among both the civilian population and the military establishment. His Government will have the support not only of his own party, the National Radical Union (conservative), but also of [Page 392] most of the members of the Center Union. Only Andreas Papandreou and his supporters and a hardcore associated with the left-of-center would oppose Karamanlis.

All the personalities who join Karamanlis in the new Government are likely to be strongly pro-Western and committed to Greece’s participation in NATO. All of them, however, have been critical of our failure to dissociate ourselves from the Papadopoulos and Ioannides regimes, and Karamanlis has personally felt slighted that we have not maintained regular contact with him in Paris in recent years. Thus, we will probably have to do some bridge-building with the new leadership initially.

On the immediate crisis in Cyprus, we can expect the new Greek Government to keep Greece’s pledge on a ceasefire and on talks in Geneva unless it believes that Ankara is involved in major violations of the ceasefire. Both Karamanlis and Foreign Minister Averof were personally involved in the London–Zurich negotiations, and both are well and favorably known to the Turks. Thus, the formation of the new Greek Government will probably be regarded by Ankara as a most welcome change. A few days ago, Karamanlis spoke publicly in favor of Makarios, but whether he will stick to this position or support Clerides is not yet known.

Ankara also undoubtedly welcomes the formation of a new Government in Cyprus under Clerides who has played the principal role on the Greek-Cypriot side in the inter-communal talks. Politically, he’s regarded as a moderate who has been more inclined than Makarios to grant the Turkish Cypriots a greater degree of local autonomy. Clerides is not popular with the Sampson extremists, but they are not likely to be a major factor as long as the Cypriot National Guard is under the effective control of Athens. By the same token, Clerides does not have a firm control of the Greek Cypriot center and left. As a representative of the Greek Cypriot position, Clerides will not be able to speak with as strong a voice in Geneva as Makarios did at London–Zurich.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, Entry 5403, Box 9, Nodis Memcons, July 1974. Secret. Drafted by John Day (EUR/SE).
  2. Following the overthrow of the military junta in Greece on July 22, former Prime Minister Constantine Karamanlis returned from exile in Paris to restore democracy to Greece. See Document 17.