144. Message From Secretary of State Kissinger to British Foreign Secretary Callaghan 1

Please convey the following message to Foreign Secretary Callaghan from Secretary of State Kissinger:

Dear Jim:

I understand that you are increasingly concerned about the lack of movement in the Cyprus situation and the increased efforts the Soviets are making to stake out a more active role for themselves. I share your concern.

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The latest Soviet move is decidedly unhelpful.2 Should this proposal be accepted, the Soviet Union will have succeeded in gaining a voice in an area in which up to now it has had little influence. This in turn would undermine further our basic security interests in the eastern Mediterranean.

In informing us of their proposal, the Soviets have once again proposed that we join with them in some form of joint guarantee. This is a proposal which we could not under any circumstances contemplate.

It may well be that the Greek Government will consider accepting the Soviet proposal for the effects this will have domestically and because it wishes to avoid the distasteful choices which more direct negotiations among the Guarantor Powers would force upon them. I think we should all impress upon our Greek friends the dangers of such acceptance in the longer term, not only for themselves, but for all of us.

Your proposal for a bi-regional federal system is a good one and we completely support your suggestion to reconvene the Geneva talks in order to explore that proposal. I believe the Greek Government must be brought to realize that it can rely on the friendly support of all of us but that it must take an active part in negotiations and must support a weak Clerides Government in its effort to reach an understanding with the Turkish-Cypriot community. A long period of stalemate would only be an advantage to the Soviets. Certainly it will not be an advantage to the Greeks, since the only hope they have for improving the present state of affairs is to return to the negotiating table. If we are to use our influence on the Turks in an effort to obtain some of the concessions which will be needed for a negotiated solution, this could only be done within the context of a negotiation. A prolonged stalemate would diminish our capability of exercising a positive influence on the Turks.

I am troubled by the encouragement which the Greek Government is giving to anti-American and anti-NATO opinion in Greece. If this anti-American and anti-NATO sentiment is not curtailed soon, it may get out of hand and provide yet another opening for Soviet meddling. I would hope that you, the French, and the FRG—and I am writing to Genscher in this same vein—will do what you can to moderate these tendencies.

I am equally concerned that the efforts of some of our European friends to engage in entirely worthwhile efforts to support the Karamanlis [Page 468] Government may be misconstrued by that Government as evidence of European support for Greece as a counterweight to American support for Turkey. The end result could be a further polarization of the situation and the strengthening in Greece of the extreme left.

It is my view that the first order of business, after turning aside the Soviet proposal, is to get the negotiations underway again. Certainly Clerides should be encouraged to talk directly with Denktash. The first item on the agenda may relate to humanitarian questions but it is possible that these discussions could eventually be broadened to cover political questions. These could include taking a look at your proposal for bi-regional federalism.

I should be most grateful for any ideas which you might have as to how we could be helpful at this stage in moving the Cyprus question back to the negotiating table.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 124, Geopolitical File, Chronological File, Cyprus. Secret. A handwritten note at the top of the message reads, “delivered to UK Embassy, 8/24, 5 p.m.”
  2. The Soviet Government’s statement, received at the White House on August 23, expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of implementation of UN Security Council resolutions, the NATO-centered approach to settlement talks, and the ongoing interference with Cyprus’ sovereignty. The Soviets proposed an international conference within the UN framework, consisting of Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, and all Security Council member countries, and probably other countries including those in the non-aligned movement. (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, KissingerScowcroft West Wing Office Files, 1969–1977, Box 27, USSR, “D” File)