142. Memorandum of Conversation1
- President Ford
- Bipartisan Congressional Leadership
- Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
- Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
President: It is important that we have continuity.
[After some discussion of other subjects the President asked Dr. Kissinger to brief.]2
Kissinger: Briefly about the development of the Cyprus situation and where we are. It started when the Greek junta used the Greek officers in Cyprus to overthrow Makarios and put in a government with support of the EOKA, as an attempt to bring about enosis.
In 1960 the Constitution was set up; in 1964 Makarios overthrew it. In 1967 there was another one and since then the Turkish people had been living in ghettos and the Turks thought the U.S. had kept them from getting their rights. The Makarios overthrow and the junta’s unpopularity gave the Turks an opportunity to rectify the situation. They moved in. Initially we were under heavy pressure to overthrow the Greek government. We tried to keep the crisis from being internationalized and to prevent the change of the constitutional government in Cyprus. The junta fell, Karamanlis came in, and the British got the talks started. We kept in the background so as not to look like we were the policemen for every civil war.
Clerides we think is a good man.
We support the Greek government, but since it had replaced the junta it didn’t feel it could make concessions. It was afraid of being caught between the left and the right. The Greek Cypriots are willing to make concessions. Also the British got mad at the Turks and put pressure on them, thus relieving the pressure on the Turks for concessions.
The solution was to be greater autonomy for the Turkish Cypriots and restoration of the 1960 Constitution. But the negotiations stalemated.[Page 462]
The Turks then attacked and now hold 55 percent of the good land and the best part.
Greek emotions are high, but the U.S. could have prevented it only by putting forces around the island sufficient to balance the Turkish forces.
The cut-off of aid would not have affected the battle and would have forced the Turks either to the Soviet Union or to a Qaddafi-type regime. It also would have gotten us embroiled in all the details of the negotiations.
We threatened if they went to war with each other that it would be a very serious move.
We now must get them to the conference table. We said yesterday that we insist that Turkey maintain the ceasefire line and negotiation is essential. I made a statement on this. I read this position to Ecevit and he agreed, and he agreed also to give up some territory and reduce his forces.
The reaction to our statement has been positive. The Greek tempers seem to be cooling. Clerides gave a good statement—he is willing to negotiate without severe preconditions. We have encouraged the British to put forward a federal solution giving more autonomy. After it is discussed more, we will offer to play a more active role.
So: A war was stopped; the Turks will give up some of their gains; and the Turks will reduce some of their forces.
The pressures on the Greek government were severe. They couldn’t go to war and so they kicked at us a bit.
President: We have dismissed our duty. Our position is the right one. We can’t go into every hot operation. We were working with all the parties.
Remember, the situation was precipitated by the Greek government, and one that was disapproved of by the U.S. and the world. When they did it, they couldn’t take advantage of it—but the Turks could and did. Now we are assured there will be some moderation in the negotiation.
My relations with the Greek community have always been excellent. They don’t think so much of me right now but I think they will come around as things go forth.
Kissinger: Even the Greeks will eventually see it was our influence which made for Turkish moderation.