127. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between President Ford and Secretary of State Kissinger1
F: Yes, Henry.
K: Mr. President, sorry to bother you.
F: That’s all right.
K: We are having some developments on Cyprus. Until I know how you want to work, I thought I should check with you on some of these actions. You know the Greeks and Turks are meeting under the British Chairmanship in Geneva and we have an Assistant Secretary there to be generally helpful.
K: No. Art Hartman.2 The British Minister represents a government that will have to stand for election so they are looking for a quick success and they are a bit like a bull in a china shop. Callaghan is not too experienced. The Turks want a quick result leading to partition of the Island into Greek and Turkish parts with sort of a general federal government which would however be very weak. They have about 15 percent of the island and want 30 percent. They might try to grab it. I have talked to the Prime Minister of Turkey.3 He was a student of mine and I have told him that we could not—really in the first 48 hours of your term of office—be very relaxed about unilateral military action.
F: We sure cannot.
K: If that happens we might have to disassociate from that which we have tried to avoid. Our danger in Turkey and why we must maneuver carefully. They might turn very nationalistic and the Russians have been trying to exploit that but we cannot let them act unilaterally. I am writing a letter to Ecevit.4 He has promised to hold off for 24 hours. I am writing to Ecevit on my behalf outlining where I see the [Page 420] negotiations stand. The Turks propose two areas—one Turkish & one Greek. I think the Greeks we can push into a position where they would be willing to accept two or three autonomous Turkish areas but not one contiguous area. That would avoid a population transfer.
K: This would give us an opportunity to stall military actions long enough to get it working on the foreign minister level to see if we can get a compromise.
F: You think the letter to Ecevit will first hold off any military action and secondly maybe lead to some modification of their demand.
K: Right. The British are all out backing the Greeks right now and are even threatening military action against the Turks which is one of the stupidest things I have heard. All they have there on Cyprus are a few Phantoms and 1,000 troops. It is purely a political thing. They could not pull it off. They want to get a crisis started and we would then have to settle it and they would claim credit.
F: Why don’t you proceed. I will be here in Washington all weekend. It seems sensible to me and I would rely on your good judgment.
K: Right, Mr. President. If anything happens I will call you. I will not bother you with every tactical move.
F: The general idea, I approve.
K: It is to take a position which is between the British and the Greek position and the Turkish one so we can ameliorate the Turkish demand but not let the Turks claim that we were the ones that thwarted them and at the same time be tough against unilateral Turkish military moves.
F: And calm down our British friends a bit.
K: Yes. We will get a message to Callaghan.5
F: Sounds sensible to me.
K: When we get to regular morning briefings I will have it set up to give you a briefing so we can tell you what we expect for that day. You will not have such short term questions. However, they may come up from time to time. I will proceed on that basis.
F: Thank you, Henry.
- Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 385, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File. No classification marking. Ford took the oath of office as the 38th President at noon on August 9, following Nixon’s resignation. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, President’s Daily Diary)↩
- Hartman traveled to Ankara, Nicosa, Athens, London, and Geneva, August 3–14. Notes of his discussions are in the National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, Entry 5403, Box 3, Nodis Letters HAK, Folder 7.↩
- Kissinger spoke with Ecevit at 3:35 p.m. (Transcript of telephone conversation; Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box 385, Telephone Conversations, Chronological File)↩
- Telegram 175382 to Ankara, August 11, transmitted the letter to Ecevit. (Ibid., Box 238, Turkey, April–September 1974)↩
- Presumably sent in telegram 175407 to Geneva, August 11. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1974, P840109–2567)↩