146. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Cyprus


  • Sir John Killick, Deputy Under Secretary, British Foreign Office
  • Mr. Richard Sykes, British Chargé d’Affaires
  • Mr. Michael Alexander, Private Secretary to the British Foreign Secretary
  • Mr. James Cornish, British Embassy
  • The Secretary
  • The Deputy Secretary
  • Ambassador Buffum, Assistant Secretary, IO
  • Mr. Wells Stabler, Acting Assistant Secretary for European Affairs
  • Mr. Lawrence Eagleburger, Executive Assistant to the Secretary
  • Ambassador William Crawford, Nicosia
  • Ambassador Jack Kubisch, Athens

Killick: I bring you best wishes from Foreign Secretary Callaghan and his appreciation that you agreed to receive us.

The Secretary: Thank you. It goes without saying that I would be happy to see you.

Killick: Our visit here is, in effect, a reply to the last message you sent over the weekend to Callaghan.2 He is out in the country on [Page 471] holiday for a rest. He does not want to go back to the Geneva forum at this time, there is no basis for it.

The Secretary: I seem to be the villain of your negotiations and I wonder how I got there.

Killick: Callaghan wants to look down the road a bit and he does not like what he sees ahead. He would like to have a discussion with you in greater depth, but this is not feasible at the present time. He, therefore, asked us to come over to have an exchange with you because this is rather better than telephone calls and diplomatic exchanges. I have a full sheaf of notes here that I would like to go over if you agree. May I proceed?

The Secretary: Yes, go ahead, and when you have finished, I will give you my thoughts. Where is Buffum?

Eagleburger: I did not know you wanted him. I will get him.

Killick: When Joe Sisco came over in July, there were some conversations with us which envisaged a package solution for Cyprus. On paper we have identified the solution as being biregional federalism.

The Secretary: The question seems to be whether the region can be extracted from the Greeks, by you or by the Turks.

Killick: There is already a de facto movement of population, and there should be some form of self-releasing guarantee as far as we are concerned. I might add that all the parties have been disenchanted with the failure by us to use military force in their interest.

The Secretary: The Turks were not unhappy that you did not use force.

Killick: That is past history and it is all highly theoretical. Nobody can impose a solution and anything that is imposed would not be a solution.

The Secretary: You mean the Greeks will not accept? How did you ever get me on the firing line in this matter?

Killick: We were not conscious that there was any act on our part which produced that result.

The Secretary: Well, it makes no difference because our actions would have been the same in any event. The Greeks have leaked what we said to them about the Soviet proposal.

Killick: The Greek insistence that a return to the August 9 line is a precondition to the resumption of negotiations is impossible. Our assessment is that the Government in Athens is weak and divided. We do not think that the Greek note of rejection of our proposal should be taken too tragically. As a matter of fact, some of the points we made are ones which Clerides would find acceptable.

The Secretary: Did we receive the text of Greek note of rejection?

Stabler: Yes we did—from the British.

[Page 472]

The Secretary: Well, I did not see it, but I did see the summary. I am not being critical, I just wanted to know if we received it.

Killick: The following are the points on which there would have to be movement by the Turks: (1) a reasonable adjustment in the territory now held by the Turks; (2) not just a reduction of Turkish forces, but a commitment to total withdrawal; and (3) a return of the refugees to their homes since it would be hard to accept a forcible transfer of population. If we could get something from the Turks along these lines, it would be helpful. Incidentally, the Turkish emissary, Ulman, did mention in London yesterday that the Turks would be satisfied with 28 per cent of the territory.

The Secretary: I think it is stupid that Ulman said this publicly at the present time.

Cornish: I have just talked to London and they said that Ulman has backed away from this percentage.

The Secretary: Good, it is better they start at 35 per cent and then come down.

Cornish: It appears that Ulman is now speaking about the need to have a certain percentage to correspond to Turkish land holdings in Cyprus and then an additional amount for security purposes.

Killick: We should get movement from the Turks on this, and you will recall that in your letter to Callaghan, you mentioned that if you are to use your influence on the Turks to obtain some concessions, it would have to be done in the context of negotiations. You also mentioned your view that 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.

The Secretary: The attitude of the Greeks toward NATO and toward our bases is most unrealistic and makes no sense.

Killick: If Turkey should make some concession as a result of the exercise of U.S. diplomacy, you would be well on your way to solving the anti-U.S. feeling in Greece. Perhaps there is some Soviet pressure building up on the Greeks, but it is difficult to read the Soviet attitude.

The Secretary: The Soviets are not moving strongly and they have taken no measures on the Turkish or Greek borders. They are doing just enough to stimulate the left in Greece. Every three days, Dobrynin comes in to suggest a joint U.S.-Soviet guarantee. When I asked Dobrynin what his view was on this proposal, he said he had warned Moscow that we would run them ragged with this proposal. I have now asked Dobrynin to get for me Soviet ideas on what a solution should be. What, in effect, can the Soviets do? If the Soviets support a bizonal solution, then they could present it in Athens. In any event, we would oppose any joint guarantee in Cyprus.

(Mr. Buffum enters the room.)

[Page 473]

Killick: Well, we would be grateful if you would keep us filled in on what the Soviets are doing.

The Secretary: Yes, we will. The Soviet moves do not seem to be anything from Brezhnev, but rather seem to reflect Gromyko’s phobia.

Killick: In your letter, you spoke of a period of stalemate and the dangers of a prolonged stalemate. Do you think that a shorter period would be any more desirable? In Callaghan’s view, time is of the essence.

The Secretary: A stalemate would certainly work against the Greeks. We would welcome UK efforts to move forward now. Movement is desirable, but a proposal by the U.S. to Greece would provoke a complicated reaction.

Killick: We cannot stand still. There is a problem, for example, of the Turkish Cypriot communities surrounded by Greek Cypriots. I want to thank you for your successful effort last week to deter the Turks from their action to relieve those areas. Your influence was decisive. Unfortunately, the Turkish minds still seem to be moving in this direction. Denktash himself has just made certain declarations about what the Turks might do if guerilla warfare broke out. Maybe these press statements are for the purpose of flesh-creeping, but they are nevertheless worrying.

The Secretary: I do not think the Greeks would really undertake guerilla warfare against the Turks. This is quite a different matter and I do not think it is feasible.

Killick: There are a number of difficult points such as the movement of Greeks from Turkish zones and the settlement of certain Turkish mainlanders in former Greek zones. On the Greek side, there is evidence of military readiness in Crete, and some days ago, Karamanlis told our Ambassador that beyond a period of some fifteen days, he would find it very difficult to control the situation.

The Secretary: Will the Turks accept partition?

Killick: The Turks say they will not, but we do not exclude this.

The Secretary: They would probably say we had arranged it.

Killick: Callaghan is not available to take a personal hand in this negotiation because of the forthcoming elections. From the announcement which we think will be made on September 4, he will be campaigning until the elections which we think will take place on October 3.

The Secretary: In other words, Callaghan would not be available for another Geneva effort. I have had this impression for some time.

Killick: Callaghan is worried about the public image of a Foreign Secretary constantly remaining available for negotiations which may never take place. He is in an exposed position and is made to look ridiculous.

[Page 474]

The Secretary: Callaghan should not be too worried about this point.

Killick: Callaghan does worry though about maintaining his position.

The Secretary: I believe that UK initiative would be useful to keep the ball in play and also to have something that we could support.

Killick: You should know, and this is important, that if the Turks embark on another aggressive act, Callaghan might well throw in his hand with respect to the UK’s diplomatic role. Callaghan’s present thinking is to make “one more heave” possibly this week to follow up his efforts to get the ball rolling last week. All our Ambassadors in the area share our assessment of the short-term threats. They key lies in Ankara and long-range diplomatic messages will not do the trick. We are thinking of despatching as our emissary, Minister of State Roy Hattersley. He would go to Ankara—and Nicosia if necessary—and then to Athens. He would see what he could extract from the Turks. To borrow a phrase, we would engage in shuttle diplomacy. Our decision as to whether to follow this road will be taken only in light of your comments. We are also talking to Waldheim and to several Turks in London. I should make the point that Callaghan is not prepared to put the UK in an exposed position in this sense without the U.S. making a major effort to persuade the Turks to make concessions. It will depend on your leverage and how you would go about it. We would also enlist the support of the Nine and other members of NATO in our dealings with Athens. We have noted your concern in your letter to Callaghan that the efforts of the Europeans to support Karamanlis might be construed by Karamanlis as evidence of European support for Greece as a counterweight to American support for Turkey. The UK would never lend itself to such polarization.

The Secretary: There is a danger of the exploitation of anti-Americanism. This would tend to stiffen the Greek backs just when flexibility is essential. One could write a script which the left in Greece would exploit. Anti-Americanism is synonymous with withdrawal from NATO.

Killick: We do not believe that in cultivating Athens, there is any intention on the part of Europeans to encourage anti-Americanism.

The Secretary: This is all right up to a point, but it can be very dangerous.

Killick: We must all help Karamanlis in the consolidation of democracy in Greece.

The Secretary: Shouldn’t Crawford and Kubisch be here?

We support this view, although we are worried about the stance assumed by Karamanlis. I do not think this stance reflects dissatisfaction with the Cyprus policy, but rather is a reflection of the Greek [Page 475] domestic situation. The army is nationalistic and radicalized. The left is becoming disproportionately strong, while the center is not.

Killick: Our Ambassador in Athens recently constructed a scenario of the military returning to the fore to insist upon war with Turkey, a Greek defeat, the fall of Karamanlis and all this would bring about.

(Ambassadors Crawford and Kubisch enter.)

The Secretary: If Karamanlis signed an agreement, he then would be destroyed as having sold out Greek national honor.

Killick: That is why we are opposed to a meeting between Ecevit and Karamanlis.

The Secretary: If the Greeks blame us for our actions in Cyprus, we should be more comfortable since the Cyprus problem is basically soluble. There is nothing which has been done by the Europeans so far in Greece to which we could object. However, we have intelligence reports that the French plan to replace us. What does this mean and is it true? Is there any crisis that NATO can withstand? If not, this raises some very serious questions.

Killick: Originally we were more relaxed regarding the Soviet proposal, as the Greeks were really rather negative.

The Secretary: We saw the press reports regarding Mavros’ attitude and that is why we sent word to Karamanlis.

Killick: The Turkish aims in Cyprus must be repugnant to the Soviets; therefore, it should be possible for you to exercise your influence on the Turks since Turkey would not move toward the Soviets. The situation in Athens would be different.

The Secretary: The Turks could either turn to the Soviet Union or to Qadhafi nationalism. While they might not turn to the Soviets in this crisis, if they were humiliated, they could go in this direction in two or three years time. The seeds for this could be sown now.

Killick: The likelihood of Turkish humiliation is small indeed. Turkey has it made.

The Secretary: The outcome will still be that the position of the Greeks in Cyprus will be much worse than what it was on July 15. I blame myself to some extent for what happened in the second round in Geneva. I do not understand, and no one has been able to explain to me, why no proposals were put forward by anybody. The only way to stop the Turkish attack would have been to flood the table with proposals. The essential ingredient, even it if was morally wrong, was to pressure the Greeks to make some concessions. The more the Greeks were outraged by the Turks, the more their backs were stiffened and the more excuses there were for the Turks to attack. I am reluctant for the U.S. to be put in the position that it was at that time. Nothing probably could have stopped the Turks in Geneva. I wonder what happened [Page 476] to the suggestion that was made about security zones in some areas of five kilometers and in other areas of eight kilometers. This seems to have disappeared and was never put forward. It would not have changed the outcome in any event. My concern now is that the outcome be such that it not cause the Greeks to dance in the streets. The Turks have gained and the Greeks have lost, but in the negotiations the Greeks will have to gain something and the Turks will have to lose something.

Killick: Callaghan is not overly optimistic, but feels he must make another try.

The Secretary: You want a U.S. “heave”. I am not at all eager for us to be in a position where it can be alleged that the UK failed because we did not do enough. Failure would, therefore, be the U.S. fault.

Killick: Callaghan does not want to land you with the baby.

The Secretary: Well, if it came to that, it would certainly be a close decision.

Killick: There are, of course, risks in what Callaghan is proposing.

The Secretary: I am not blaming anybody for what happened at Geneva II. I tried to get the Turks to come up with a proposal we could move forward. I never knew what happened to these proposals. They were not put forward.

Killick: The Turks were determined to move unilaterally.

The Secretary: We might have gained 36 hours, but I suppose the outcome would have been the same. Mavros would never have obtained approval to accept a cantonal arrangement.

Killick: We must be careful to have no failure of communication.

Alexander: I do not think there was any failure of communication in Geneva. Callaghan, I believe, regrets that he did not float proposals earlier, but there is an important dimension here. The situation was most complex and we were arguing with the Turks on irrelevancies such as place cards. On Sunday, the Turks wouldn’t meet because their Cabinet was meeting. The other dimension was that Callaghan wanted to remain on speaking terms with the Greeks and, therefore, had to be careful.

The Secretary: The elements of negotiation really did not exist. The only thing that made sense was the biregional federalism and the only question was the size of the regions. I suggested a cantonal plan only to get the principle established. My concern now is with the forthcoming UK elections. It has been my experience as a mediator that one must be less eager than the parties. Let the parties exhaust themselves so that they are then ready to negotiate. There should be no time pressure.

Killick: You suggest that this should be a more deliberate operation. I think the opportunities for consultation are good.

[Page 477]

The Secretary: I think there are two out of three chances that the idea will fail.

Killick: The matter is not that urgent as far as we are concerned, but it is a question of how long we shall remain available to undertake the process.

The Secretary: If the UK wants to do this on its own, that is all right. But it is another matter if we are to be a participant.

Killick: The U.S. role is essential.

The Secretary: Well, then we are in trouble. If Turkey makes no concessions, we will get stuck with the consequences. We will be accused of either being incompetent or lacking in good will. It is a question of timing with respect to Turkey. A tremendous heave at the right time and with the right framework might do it. But to support a junior minister…Wells, what do you think?

Stabler: I do not think the Turks will agree to any concessions at this time. They really have nothing to gain at the moment.

Killick: We will not go forward with this idea without a major heave and an effort of major persuasion by you.

The Secretary: What movement would be required?

Killick: We would not expect detailed concessions, but there would have to be the objective of complete Turkish withdrawal and agreement not forcibly to remove Greek Cypriots from Turkish areas. We would have to have forward movement to take something to the Greeks.

The Secretary: If you want a message from the President to Ecevit—I am not sure that would be the way to do it—if this goes forward as a U.S.–U.K. initiative, then we would be the fall guy. You should not be confused by shuttle diplomacy. It is not something that can be done overnight. It takes months to prepare the ground. I started on Egypt long before I went there, and when I finally got there, both parties pled with me to go even faster. I am obviously influenced by my experience. I do not sense readiness by either party to make a major move. If we could find that there is flexibility, then we could get behind it. It would be dangerous for Callaghan to commit himself at this time to a last-ditch effort. I am very worried that if the Turks do not play, then the UK will announce that the beastly Turks had thwarted their efforts. This would then force us into a position which would make it more difficult for us to do something later. The final heave will have to be a UK effort in Athens, but the Greeks would still be dissatisfied by the small concessions that would be made.

Alexander: The UK elections will not play a role in this, and I am sure if the project moves into negotiations, Callaghan will make sure that domestic considerations do not play a part.

[Page 478]

The Secretary: If the Turks made a major proposal, then it would be better not to conclude prior to the elections since it would be certain that one of the parties would complain. The negotiations should continue during the election period. In any event, the Greeks will blame somebody. Moreover, the Turks will probably be beastly and Ecevit tricky. I can assure you that it took me a very long time to get a proposal in the Syrian negotiation and at any time I could have blown this up. However, it was essential to take the time necessary to move forward. If Hattersley goes this week, it would take a week or more to know whether there would be real progress. The Turks will not yield at this time—if they yield to the UK at all.

Killick: We are under no illusions as to what the UK can achieve alone, but we do not want to demonstrate this publicly.

Alexander: We must be seen to be making a major effort to shift the ground in favor of the Greeks in order to get a negotiation going.

The Secretary: There is no doubt that major pressure must be placed in Ankara and the United States must do it. I agree as to the optimum outcome, but I am concerned how to get there. The Turks do not react to public pressure. We have built up considerable capital with the Turks and we must determine how to spend it usefully. Is this the right time and right context for the U.S. to make a massive effort? We have a firm rule—we do not act under pressure. Until the Greeks stop picking on us, we will do nothing to help them. But we are not anti-Greek. It makes no sense to stop aid to Turkey since it would produce nothing, and if we had to stop it for any length of time, it would be extremely complicated to get it going again.

Killick: May I ask if Congress will force your hand with regard to aid to Turkey?

The Secretary: This is possible. I do think that the scenario suggested by Callaghan should be played out at some time, and we would prefer to have the UK do it. Our concern is that the time is not yet right for an all-out effort.

Buffum: What heave can we give with the Turks in addition to the many things we have already been doing with them? The Secretary has sent many messages.

The Secretary: There is really no sign of flexibility in the Turkish position and nobody can promise Greek flexibility. The real problem is the behavior of the Greek Government.

Sykes: From my experience in Greece, the Greek Governmight might well go off the deep end in spite of its recognition that this would not be in its best interest.

The Secretary: It is desirable that the UK make an effort and we are prepared to give considerable support. But the time factor [Page 479] would produce a deadlock. Under the best of circumstances, the mediator would have to take several weeks before getting a break. If the elections were announced in the meantime, this would create a pressure.

Alexander: The implication is then that you think we should do nothing until after October 3.

The Secretary: You might send Hattersley around to see what flexibility there is. This we could back. However, if this is a do-or-die effort, then this would radicalize the situation. It is all right to send Hattersley on an exploratory mission to keep the Turks in play and to hold the Greek hands, but a do-or-die effort would be most difficult. The Turks would be the fall guys. Cutting off aid will not only be bad, but will not move the negotiations forward. The Turks would then not withdraw their forces for a long time and we would not be able to provide aid for a long time. Other arrangements would be needed.

Alexander: The Hattersley mission is exploratory.

The Secretary: My impression is that what would help the most would be serious negotiations under UK auspices. There would be distinct foreign policy advantages as well as domestic political advantages for the UK. Once the negotiations were started, one would not push unduly. But the problem is to get over the present hurdle and start the negotiations.

Alexander: This proposal is not to be presented as a do-or-die effort.

The Secretary: If Hattersley goes the end of the month and the elections are called next week, he has only a week in which to produce something. This seems most doubtful.

Alexander: I do not think the domestic political angle looms large here.

Buffum: The communal talks in Cyprus are a major step forward and are a measure of hope for the situation on the ground.

Killick: If the Turks make another rash move, will the U.S. try to restrain them?

The Secretary: I would prefer to have the negotiations started and it should be a U.S.–UK effort. Can you stay overnight so I can talk with the President and meet with you again tomorrow?

Killick: That is all right with me, but I am not sure about you, Michael. You may have to get back.

Alexander: Mr. Secretary, how do you think the situation will improve if we hold up our initiative for a time?

The Secretary: The Greeks must learn two things: they cannot kick us around, and we will not yield to pressure. The Greeks may prefer the status quo to any action on their part to legitimatize the territorial [Page 480] change. We have made many efforts with Karamanlis and with Mavros to get a dialogue started. Each time, the Greeks have kicked us in the teeth. The Greeks have never proposed anything which we could do something about. The last reply of Karamanlis was irrational. He said that the Turks would have to return to the August 9 line or there could be no negotiation. We do not believe that the Greeks are yet willing and there is no basis for U.S. mediation until the Greeks are ready. The settlement will have to be based on a partial withdrawal from present areas and something on refugees. The troop withdrawal question will be very tough. How do we get into this with the Greeks? The Greeks will say that they were giving us another chance to show our support using the UK as agents. Then we will be in a very false position and this before we had prepared the Turks’ position. I have really no idea as to the elements of flexibility in the Greek position. The question is how to bring the parties together and we would like the UK to do this. My strong preference is for the U.S. not to do it. Basically, I think your idea of an emissary is about two weeks premature. There is some evidence that the Greeks are moving in the right direction, but the domestic structure in Greece today is such that the U.S. is still the fall guy. The army blames us, the left does not need anything—it almost won in 1967. The army is destroyed as a counterweight and is radicalized. Karamanlis is on a dangerous ledge and at some point will be driven to produce something. He certainly doesn’t want to do anything for Papandreou. Karamanlis may be more reasonable later.

I will talk with the President about your proposal. I agree with your concept. It has to go this way. The solution is realistic and must go via Ankara. I am not clear where we are going to be when the UK launches its initiative in a period which we consider slightly premature and in a situation in which we cannot operate very well. We have not had a rational communication from Karamanlis, and the Greeks have given us nothing on which we can get a handle. I had no conception prior to Geneva II just what Karamanlis wanted. I am worried about the UK elections. You can send Hattersley, but can you guarantee that there will not be a break-up?

Alexander: Would you like us to get some view from London as to what the effect of the election might have on this initiative?

The Secretary: I would like to have a sense of Callaghan’s timing. Is he moving toward a break-up or what?

Alexander: It is important that we stay closely in touch on all of this.

The Secretary: Callaghan will get mad at some point and the thing will stalemate. I would consider it a diplomatic achievement if there were a stalemate for four weeks without a break-up. But what would [Page 481] happen then in Athens? Let’s meet tomorrow.3 We will give you a time. In the meantime, I will talk with the President.4

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 124, Geopolitical File, Chronological File, Cyprus. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Stabler. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s office.
  2. Apparent reference to Document 144.
  3. No record of this conversation has been found.
  4. When Kissinger met with Ford, the President agreed that the British should take the initiative. (Memorandum of conversation, August 28; Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversations, Box 5, 8/28/74)