137. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Cyprus


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

Kissinger: We have to placate the Greeks but I do not want to give the impression that the more they can kick us around, the more they can get. Karamanlis should not attack the President his first week in office. If they take an irreversible anti-U.S. line, we can take it better than they can. We tried to prevent military actions. The paragraph in the cable has to be strong.2 If this continues, the U.S. will have to reconsider its policies. We have no interest in supporting a country which follows a professional anti-U.S. position.

Joe (Sisco), tell the Cypriot Ambassador that he is Clerides’ Ambassador and not Makarios’ Ambassador or we will not continue to see him.

McCloskey: Dimitriou is in a difficult situation.

Kissinger: The word has gone forth that the U.S. will not be pushed around. This campaign must stop. We made our record. Karamanlis can rely on our support. The Greeks must realize that the outcome [Page 452] cannot be one which is very pleasant. If they get in a state of mind that we will push the Turks back…

Sisco: The psychology that is evolving with this new government is like the one the Greek junta had, namely, that we have greater interest in Greece than they have in us.

Kissinger: I have no confidence Tasca can carry this message.

Sisco: Henry, we have to take a chance. I don’t think we have any alternative. We can supplement this with a telephone call to Monty Stearns.

Ingersoll: You can call Tasca back and have Monty Stearns do it.

Kissinger: I don’t want Tasca running around town at this time.

Buffum: You can leave a piece of paper.

Sisco: You will have a problem there. If you want, I’ll call Tasca and underline your concern and tell him that you are to read the following to Karamanlis.

Kissinger: If we send a representative, they may not let him in the country. We should also send a message to Ecevit and let him know that what we need is now needed.3 They must make a generous gesture, giving up some territory as a prelude to negotiations and in the negotiations they should be willing to give further concessions. I would like to have Ecevit’s ideas.

Eagleburger: Do you want to tell Ecevit about the last Soviet proposal?

Kissinger: The Soviets have now proposed a joint guarantee which we will also refuse. We understand Greece’s concerns and frustrations. On the other hand, we consider it unjust. We have made a major effort to moderate the Turks. We have gotten several delays. We do not use U.S. military forces against a NATO ally especially in terms of our domestic and international situation. We have our own considerations. Greece is in NATO not for U.S. interests but for Greece’s own interests. If Greece wants to follow an anti-U.S. policy, we want to know how.

Buffum: Even the UK as a Guarantor Power did not use force.

Kissinger: Callaghan’s strategy was a disaster.

Up to this point we have understood the anti-U.S. position of Greece. There were domestic considerations. From the foreign policy view, this could become irretrievable. We want to strengthen the Greek Government. If Karamanlis is willing, we are prepared to support him.

Buffum: We should protest against the demonstrations against U.S. installations in Greece.

[Page 453]

Kissinger: I don’t think we are going to get anywhere by being too soft or gentle. Anyway, our motto is if Sisco can’t go, no one can go. (Laughter)

I didn’t understand how precarious the second round of negotiations was. I thought that it would lead to a technical round of discussions. Where I miscalculated is that it became the prelude to military hostilities. I didn’t know by Tuesday4 that no negotiations were in flux and that the Greeks had not made an offer. Why was not the 5½ kilometer zone proposed?

Hartman: Gunes had one talk with Callaghan and then it got lost.

Kissinger: Callaghan told me it was a non-starter.

Sisco: Because the Turks had in mind breaking out of the zone.

Kissinger: But it was the Turks who proposed it.

Hartman: That was a means of making it hard for the National Guard to resist.

Kissinger: It was a combination of all circumstances. Geneva wasn’t played to bring all factors into the negotiations.

McCloskey: On Monday5 the Turks were talking about a 20-kilometer buffer zone.

Kissinger: By Tuesday Callaghan and Ecevit told me of the 5½ kilometer proposition. Whether it was serious or not I don’t know. (To Hartman) Did you know about it?

Hartman: The British never mentioned it to me.

Kissinger: I have not yet understood the paralysis in Geneva.

Hartman: Callaghan concentrated on ceasefire violations for the first four days. Gunes found a reason why a session on Friday could not be held. Then, over the weekend the Greeks took the position that the Guarantor Powers could not discuss a settlement. Gunes then said, “Why are we here?”

Kissinger: When it became clear there was the likelihood of a military move, we or the British should have gotten a proposal interjected.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, Box 9, Nodis Memoranda of Conversations, August 1974, Folder 5. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Djerejian. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s office and it followed up on a meeting held one hour earlier. (Memorandum of conversation, August 17, 11:30 a.m.; ibid.)
  2. An apparent reference to telegram 181127 to Athens, August 17, which discussed Turkish military action: “It is totally unjustified for the blame to be laid on the U.S.; nor do we believe it is in the interest of Greece to do so. As close and friendly allies, we believe it is important for both of us to remember that this crisis was not of our making or of the Karamanlis government. Both Greece and the U.S. were put in the situation in which we now find ourselves by the irresponsible and unwise actions of the Greek junta in upsetting the balance of forces on Cyprus.” (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Middle East and South Asia, Box 10, Greece, Nodis from Secretary of State 1)
  3. See Document 138.
  4. August 13.
  5. August 12.