122. Briefing Memorandum From the Cyprus Task Force to Secretary of State Kissinger1


I. The Problem

Against Greek resistance, the Turks at Geneva are trying to push the cease-fire discussions into preliminary negotiations on a political settlement. As the talks approach the substantive aspects of the settlement, the risk of an impasse increases. In anticipation of this occurring, this paper analyzes the various arrangements that may be proposed to determine how they impinge on U.S. interests.

II. The Situation

Militarily, the situation on the island is relatively quiet. The Turks have consolidated and enlarged their enclave north of Nicosia, but the vast majority of the Turkish Cypriot enclaves outside the Nicosia–Kyrenia triangle have been eliminated or reduced, with the exception of Famagusta and the Kokkina area, where Turkish Cypriot militia are still holding out. The new government in Athens has threatened Greco-Turkish war if the Turks continue to advance in violation of the cease-fire but international efforts over the past 24 hours have reduced the Turkish violations.

Politically, the situation is unstable in Greece and among the Greek Cypriot community. Clerides, trapped between the extremists on right and left, is moving cautiously out of fear of a move against him. In Greece, there are reports of coup plotting against Karamanlis by pro-Ioannides military elements. The Greek military probably will allow Karamanlis considerable latitude in trying to reach a settlement of the Cyprus issue, provided that Turkey does not push its advantages in Cyprus too far. The Turks seem united around Ecevit, but the political opposition and the military will be watching him carefully to be sure he does not bargain away Turkey’s gains.

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Diplomatically, by invading Cyprus, continuing to advance after the cease-fire, and stating that Turkey intends to remain on Cyprus in force, the Turks are coming under increasing international criticism. The UK is anxious about Turkey’s aims, and the Turks, for their part, consider the UK pro-Greek. In these circumstances, Turkey’s only significant international support now seems to be coming from the US.

III. US Interests

Our fundamental interests in the area are: (1) to maintain the Western defense-deterrence capability, which requires NATO cohesion, the maintenance of US/NATO facilities in the area, and Greek-Turkish harmony; and (2) to contain Soviet influence.

An unstable Cyprus threatens both these interests. Greco-Turkish contention weakens the defense capability of the Alliance, and Greco-Turkish hostilities would deal it a severe blow. Further, if badly handled, the crisis could easily result in a better Soviet position on Cyprus and in either Greece or Turkey or both. Thus the US does not have fundamental objectives as regards Cyprus itself except in the context of Cyprus’ effect on other US interests.

IV. Intentions and Objectives of the Parties

Turkey: The Turks are determined to use their strong position on Cyprus to solve the Cyprus problem once and for all along the lines of de facto governmental separation of the two communities within the framework of an independent Cyprus. This is described by the Turks as “the restoration of two autonomous administrations” coordinated only at the top by the Greek Cypriot president and the Turkish Cypriot vice president. This arrangement must be recognized by the Greeks in a formal document. The Turks oppose a return to the 1960 constitutional system as unworkable. They also oppose the return of Makarios. They do not speak of partition (double enosis), presumably because they do not think that Greece, the US, the Soviets, and the international community would tolerate the disappearance of the independent state of Cyprus. Moreover, Turkey may try to use its gains on Cyprus to pressure Greece to resolve other Greco-Turkish issues, principally the dispute over Aegean oil and the demarcation of territorial waters. Turkey may calculate that, with Karamanlis in power in Athens, there is a good chance to solve outstanding problems. Finally, Turkey believes it is bargaining from strength and will not approach the negotiating process in a concessionary mood.

Greece: Karamanlis, like Ecevit, wants to resolve outstanding Greco-Turkish problems. However, he will be under pressure from his military not to capitulate to Turkish demands. The Greeks would prefer an independent, unitary Cyprus with minimal guarantees for the [Page 408] rights of the Turkish community. They know that enosis is unacceptable to Turkey. In between, they would probably like the status quo ante without Makarios and without additional Turkish troops. Their minimum would be continued Cypriot independence. The Greeks might accept a federal solution if the Turkish military were reduced to a symbolic presence and if the federal arrangements were not simply a guise for Turkish extraterritoriality. If the Greeks concluded that there was no give at all in the Turkish position (i.e. that the Turks had effectively combined their autonomous enclave with Turkey) they might well move to do the same on the Greek side and approach the Turks on the basis of de facto enosis for both sectors.

Cyprus (The Greek Cypriots): The Turkish Cypriots are under Ankara’s control, but Athens will have to take the views of the Greek Cypriots into account. Whatever Athens agrees to with the Turks will have to be sold to Greek Cypriot opinion (despite Ankara’s total misconception that Greece can impose its will on the Greek Cypriots). In the past, Athens has had trouble dealing with Makarios, but once brought around, he could deliver Greek Cypriot agreement. Clerides is more amenable to Athens’ direction and more appealing to the Turks, but may well be unable to secure acceptance of Greco-Turkish compromises. The leftists want continued independence under Makarios; the rightists want enosis without Makarios. The Greek Cypriots have the potential to sabotage an agreement between Athens and Ankara.

Like the mainland Greeks, the majority of Greek Cypriots could probably accept a federal solution if it did not involve a massive Turkish military presence or any other type of Turkish extraterritoriality.

V. Alternative Models for New Arrangements on Cyprus

A. An Independent Cyprus with Extraterritorial Turkish Area(s) would involve:

  • —An independent and sovereign Cyprus minus the Turkish area(s).
  • —Recognized or de facto Turkish control of the Nicosia–Kyrenia triangle.
  • —Turkey maintains a large number of mainland military forces in the Kyrenia enclave.
  • —Some freedom of movement.

B. Partition> would include:

  • —Recognition of Turkish sovereignty over the Kyrenia enclave or some other area.
  • —The declaration, perhaps following a plebiscite, of the union of the rest of Cyprus with Greece.
  • —The optional transfer of Turkish Cypriots into the Turkish enclave and of Greek Cypriots out.
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C. Federation and Demilitarization would include:

  • —An independent and sovereign Cyprus.
  • —The establishment of two communal structures—one Greek and one Turkish—autonomous at the local level and merged at the national level.
  • —The phased reduction, under UN supervision, of mainland Greek and Turkish forces to the symbolic presence of a few hundred each.
  • —Demilitarization of Cyprus—no local armies.


Analyzing these three models, in terms of U.S. interests and objectives, leads to the following observations:

  • —Model A would be unstable and quickly evolve into Model B. This model also runs the risk of renewed fighting if the Turks decide to expand the Kyrenia enclave, or if Greece attempts to insert mainland Greek troops on the island. If the Greek Cypriots are required in effect to cede significant territory to Turkey, they would have little incentive to give up the historic goal of enosis to maintain an independent state, and Greece would be unable to refuse.
  • —Models A and B have the advantage of separating the Greek and Turkish communities but the disadvantage of creating yet another frontier.
  • —Model B would probably involve the eventual transfer of mainland Greek military forces to Cyprus to balance the Turkish forces already there.

Concluding Observations

Model A (extraterritoriality) is inherently unstable and therefore is the least preferable model from the US point of view. Model B (partition) is probably unacceptable to the Greeks and could result in more, rather than less, confrontation between Greece and Turkey. Model C (federation) poses a potentially serious political problem: Even if Greece and Turkey agreed on a federation scheme, the Greek Cypriots might conclude that the arrangement gave too much to the Turks, and they have the capability to undercut a Greek-Turkish agreement.

On the other hand, Model C (federation) recommends itself because it would minimize the Greek and Turkish presence on the island.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, Entry 5403, Box 3, Nodis Letters, Folder 5. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Thomas Boyatt, Harmon Kirby, Richard Erdman, and Philip Stoddard. Cleared by Bruce Hirshorn, Lloyd George and Stabler. This was one of four papers that C. William Kontos, Director of the Cyprus Task Force, requested on July 25. The others are entitled “Turkish Politics After Cyprus,” “Preliminary Assessment of Turkish Military Operation on Cyprus,” both dated July 27; ibid., Box 9, Nodis Memcons, July 1974, Folder 2; and [title not declassified] dated July 29; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 123, Geopolitical File, Cyprus, Chronological File.