133. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Cyprus


  • Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State
  • Joseph J. Sisco, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
  • Robert M. McCloskey, Ambassador at Large
  • Arthur Hartman, Assistant Secretary, EUR
  • William B. Buffum, Assistant Secretary, IO
  • Wells Stabler, Deputy Assistant Secretary, EUR
  • Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Executive Assistant to the Secretary
  • Edward P. Djerejian, Special Assistant to Mr. Sisco

Kissinger: We should do another letter to Karamanlis.2 I have a call in to Ecevit to stop the military operations.3 I want a message out tonight and a Presidential message tomorrow to Karamanlis inviting him to a meeting with Ecevit and me somewhere in Europe. We made a mistake in not telling Karamanlis everything we had done to try to stop the Turks. We ought to do a letter to Karamanlis indicating that we realize his concerns; that we thought it most effective to deal with the Turks without publicity. Refer to the White House statement4 and my message to Mavros 5 and tell him about my call to Ecevit. We must show him that we have done something. Later we can send a Presidential letter which proposes the meeting.

Sisco: I think it needs delay.

Kissinger: It’s coming out about right. They needed a fall guy.

Sisco: Tomorrow evening is about right, if the military operation goes on as we guessed. The matter has been decided on the ground [Page 443] though there are broader considerations in seeing the Secretary of State.

Kissinger: The Soviets have proposed a joint initiative with the U.S. which involves a joint guarantee of the outcome of the negotiations and joint intervention in the case of war according to the agreement. I told them that if they interpreted the agreement in this manner, we would have to abrogate it.

We don’t have to have a meeting until the end of next week or even the beginning of the following week. Sooner or later the Greeks will have to give up. The best solution would be to have the Turks give up 10 percent of the 30 percent of the territory they have physically occupied.

You (Stabler) should draft a letter to Karamanlis.6 Make it an account of what we have done before. Include that the situation on Cyprus was lost by the previous Greek Government. Short of military intervention, which our domestic and other factors could not permit, we did what we could. They can count on our good will. Ecevit has assured us they will not move below this southern line. Refer to our public statements. If he gives us an answer by noon, we can decide on a Presidential initiative later on in the day.

Buffum: Concerning the situation at the UN, minimal action will be a reaffirmation of the previous resolutions on the ceasefire.7 The maximum would be the French draft which is being circulated. It formally disapproves of the Turkish action, affirms the ceasefire and the resumption of the negotiations. This text has been opposed by the representatives from the Moslem countries because of the specific reference to Turkey.8

Kissinger: But the Turks can give us trouble in the next Middle East war. We have to be careful not to get too far separated from the Turks. Do the Turks in New York know we are holding back? Do they know we are not leading any crusade?

Sisco: They are abundantly aware of our position.

Buffum: There was a Soviet effort to get peace efforts reconvened under the Secretary General.

[Page 444]

Kissinger: How cynical can you get? I told Waldheim that if I can’t turn over an island to you and you can’t keep it peaceful, what problem can I hand you? (Laughter)

Eagleburger: He doesn’t have a sense of humor.

Kissinger: I told him he had the third largest military force in the non-Communist world. He didn’t catch the humor of it.

If we can get agreement for a meeting in Washington, then President Ford can join Ecevit, Karamanlis and myself. At this meeting we can establish guidelines for a reconvened Geneva conference. I am persuaded that Callaghan does not know how to do these things himself. He should have taken a more neutral position and put concrete proposals on the table.

Hartman: I told him to have the proposals put forward.

Kissinger: In all of our Middle East negotiations our proposals were always put forward at the right time to have the parties focus on something. Callaghan should have sent someone around to the capitals—a senior representative. The Greeks went to Geneva with the idea of the British backing them and with the idea that they could depend on the British. To reach a stalemate in 48 hours after the conference is convened is a sign of incompetence. If Callaghan had gotten Clerides to put something forward, then he could have built on this.

Hartman: Clerides had a deal with Karamanlis that once Clerides told him what his minimum position was, Karamanlis would support him.

Kissinger: Why didn’t he do it?

Buffum: He has no experience. He was dealing in these negotiations like it was a trade union meeting.

Kissinger: Time and again I called him and he didn’t know what he was going to put forward, like the 5 kilometer proposal. He should have seen himself as the agent of the Greeks and had them face the facts of life. Karamanlis is seen as selling out Greek interests against the British. That sort of strategy he never discussed with us. Callaghan was pushing for a meeting on the 8th of August. The Turks wanted the 12th or 14th. If he had any sense, the later the better. He focused on minor ceasefire violations.

Hartman: He is the head of the party and had electoral factors in mind. He had only two days before the elections.

Kissinger: If he had sent a senior British representative to the interested parties who could put forward proposals…I was naive in thinking that when he didn’t want a senior officer there, he had a plan for a strategy and a position of his own with some agreement of both the sides. We will not be that quiet any more. Anytime it blows up, we get the blame. He doesn’t have the fire power to control this situation. When the Soviets propose joint action, we are running against time because [Page 445] they will be raising this the next time again. Dobrynin told me that he stopped the note on Monday but you can frustrate this thing only so long.

Stabler: I would like to raise the problem of the Lash Espana and Lash Italia. The information DOD gave you at the WSAG this morning9 on their control over the ship is not correct. The ship is controlled by its owner who wants the ship to pass Piraeus and then go on to Turkey. If the ship goes by, then it will put us in a difficult position with the Greeks.

Kissinger: What is your solution?

Stabler: If the ship can be sent to Brindisi in Italy and offload the military equipment there, it would help matters.

Kissinger: I agree.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, Entry 5403, Box 9, Nodis Memoranda of Conversations, August 1974, Folder 5. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Edward Djerejian. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s office.
  2. Regarding the first letter, see footnote 3, Document 131.
  3. See Document 134.
  4. In the White House statement, the President stated: the “United States disapproves of the Turkish military action on Cyprus and he strongly urges immediate compliance with the relative United Nations cease-fire resolutions.” (Telegram 179118 to Ankara, Nicosia, and Athens, August 15; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1974)
  5. Presumably a reference to telegram 178613 to Athens, August 15. (Ibid., P850095–2349)
  6. A likely reference to telegram 181127 to Athens, August 17, in which the Ambassador was instructed to read a letter but leave no paper. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for the Middle East and South Asia, Box 10, Greece, Nodis from Secretary of State 1)
  7. The Security Council took this action when it unanimously adopted Resolution 358 on August 15. (Yearbook of the United Nations, 1974, p. 293)
  8. The Security Council adopted the French-sponsored Resolution 360, 11–0 with 3 abstentions, on August 16. (Ibid.)
  9. See Document 132.