147. Telegram From the Embassy in Greece to the Department of State1

6541. Subj: Cyprus: First Caramanlis–Tyler Meeting. Ref: Athens 6507.2

The meeting opened promptly at ten in the morning on Monday, September 9. Present, in addition to the Prime Minister and Ambassador Tyler,3 were Deputy Foreign Minister Bitsios and DCM Stearns. After welcoming Ambassador Tyler, PM Caramanlis asked what news he brought from Washington.
Ambassador Tyler extended to the Prime Minister greetings of the President and the Secretary and conveyed to him their admiration for Caramanlis and his government. Ambassador Tyler said that the U.S. wishes to be helpful to the PM and his government and the Secretary believes that the opportunity to exchange views afforded by Ambassador Tyler’s visit is crucial to determine how this can be done. The Secretary wishes to establish close and cordial relations with the PM on a confidential basis and would welcome the PM’s ideas on how to achieve this. Ambassador Kubisch will be arriving in Athens on September 19 and will bring with him the Secretary’s response to any proposals that Caramanlis cares to make on this or other points.
Ambassador Tyler said that he was instructed to stress the importance that U.S. attaches to close relations with the PM and his government. Greece is a respected friend and valiant ally. We warmly welcome the return of democracy to Greece and believe that our mutual interests can only be served if there is no misunderstanding between us.
In this spirit and for these reasons Ambassador Tyler said that he would speak with complete frankness. (To which the PM interjected, “I like that.”) In doing so Ambassador Tyler was fulfilling the wish of the Secretary that Caramanlis be made fully aware of the motives, attitudes and reactions of the U.S. Government.
PM then asked “What is the position of your government on the Cyprus question?”
Ambassador Tyler replied that we wished to be helpful although the PM should realize that our ability to be helpful requires a constructive attitude on the part of the Greek Government. The US, like Greece, has its own self-respect and we do not react well to pressure tactics.
The PM asked what sort of pressure Ambassador Tyler had in mind.
Ambassador Tyler replied that our role is made more difficult if either party to the Cyprus dispute takes an anti-American stand. “If the atmosphere is poisoned by anti-Americanism,” he said, “then we will have no choice but to stand aside until another opportunity arises, if it ever does.” In this connection the Secretary believes that no alternative solution could be provided by the Soviet Union, a point of view which we understand Caramanlis shares.
Ambassador Tyler went on to say that the Secretary has always stressed the need for careful preparation before negotiations are launched. This was true of both the Indochina and Middle East negotiations. The Secretary will not act as a lawyer or advocate for any of the parties of a dispute that we are helping to resolve. Nor is he in the habit of making statements to the grandstand or of making empty promises that the U.S. cannot fulfill.
“How do we move from words to actions?” asked Ambassador Tyler. We must find the parameters of a solution to the Cyprus problem allowing a certain margin for negotiation. We must know the ultimate objectives of the parties before we can try to harmonize them.
The Prime Minister at this point observed with a smile that there were many conditions and prerequisites affecting the American role. Nevertheless, speaking seriously, he appreciated the Secretary’s desire to be helpful. He asked how long Ambassador Tyler planned to remain in Athens.
Ambassador Tyler said that his tentative plan was to depart on Thursday, September 12, but that he could, of course, remain longer in Athens if the PM wished him to do so.
The PM indicated that this time frame was probably satisfactory and that he would wish to meet with Ambassador Tyler again on Tuesday, September 10. He then asked Ambassador Tyler to proceed with his presentation.
Ambassador Tyler said that at the Secretary’s request he wished to give Caramanlis the U.S. view of events since July 15. The Secretary considered that it was important to do this because he was concerned about press reports in Athens and statements by Greek political figures that falsely alleged that the U.S. had taken an anti-Greek position in the Cyprus dispute. The Secretary understands that domestic considerations may lead a government to neutralize attacks from the left or right by preemptive statements of its own. We have, however, been stunned by some of the anti-American statements and charges emanating from Athens. The PM must realize that major decisions possibly involving the use of force could not be seriously contemplated at a time of a Presidential changeover in the U.S. “What would the Greek Government have had us do?” asked Ambassador Tyler. We refrained from taking an anti-Greek position at the time of the coup against Makarios because to have done so would have constituted an open invitation for the Turks to take military action. The PM should realize that U.S. military intervention against the Turks, with the consequences that would have ensued, was “unthinkable”.
The PM noted that following the putsch against Makarios, world press had reported that the Secretary had expressed satisfaction because “a Mediterranean Castro” had been eliminated. Tyler denied that Secretary had said anything of the kind.
Ambassador Tyler observed that many of the Secretary’s advisers had urged him to take an anti-Greek stand when the Junta made its move against Makarios. The Secretary rejected this advice not only because he believed such a stand would have encouraged Turkish military intervention, but also because the injection of anti-Greek bias into our policy would have destroyed our ability to be helpful later. Contrary to suggestions made inaccurately and tendentiously in the press we had no illusions about the character of the Sampson government and had not favored him. Results of the anti-Makarios coup were in any case bound to be unfavorable to Greek interests leaving behind at least temporarily no government in Cyprus and a discredited military regime in Athens. To sum up, the US did not tilt toward the Turks—the balance of forces had tilted in favor of the Turks.
Caramanlis laughed and said that he appreciated this exposition of the American point of view but still believed that we could have been more helpful.
Ambassador Tyler said that we tried to be as helpful as possible during both the first and second Geneva conferences. We were not, [Page 484] however, conducting the negotiations and thus were operating in difficult circumstances. We are in fact “puzzled” by the course taken in the second Geneva conference. There was an almost exclusive concentration on the ceasefire issue without any long term proposals being put forward. Preparation for the conference had been totally inadequate with the predictable consequence that the conference was deadlocked after two days. The success of any future issues and the putting forward of specific, substantive proposals. [sic]
At this point Deputy Foreign Minister Bitsios said that the latter comment was worth translating verbatim for the PM and he did so.
Ambassador Tyler said that the Secretary attempted during the course of the second Geneva conference to get the Turks to make specific proposals concerning possible cantonal arrangements in order to gain time. It was of course possible that the Turks had been prepared to move militarily on the island from the beginning of the conference. With this possibility in mind, the State Department issued its public statement regarding the need for greater autonomy for the Turkish community on Cyprus.4 This statement was made to demonstrate that there was no justification for the Turks to move militarily. The statement was not, as it was incorrectly depicted in some quarters, a tilt toward the Turks.
PM said that this impression was created by Turkish PM Ecevit who greeted the statement warmly and thanked the US for its “understanding”. Caramanlis commented that Ecevit made too many public declarations: “He speaks fifteen times a day—I speak once every fifteen days.”
Ambassador Tyler said that this was of course past history. Admitted we had not been successful in deterring the Turks. Caramanlis should accept, however, that we had not connived with them and had done our best to be even handed and helpful. More recently we have warned them that they could not make future military moves without causing public and active opposition by the US to the Turkish position with all that this implied. We do not wish events to move in this direction. We recognize that legitimate Turkish complaints exist about the treatment of the Turkish minority on Cyprus and the stupid acts of the Greek Junta. The US does not favor public condemnation of Turkey and does not believe that such condemnation would contribute to achieving a settlement of the Cyprus conflict that is both enduring and consistent with the honor and dignity of Greece.
Having reviewed the past, we must consider the future, Ambassador Tyler continued. We want to be helpful and we believe that our help can only be effective in the context of negotiations. We are [Page 485] prepared to use our influence in Ankara to create a climate favorable to the resumption of negotiations. The Secretary has studied very carefully the points made by the PM in his letter of August 22.5 He said on several occasions to Ambassador Tyler that the only solution in Cyprus that we want is one compatible with the honor and dignity of Greece and in the interests of the people of Cyprus.
Nevertheless, the Greeks must realize that no solution to the Cyprus problem can produce a situation which existed before July 15. (Caramanlis nodded his agreement with this point.) What the Secretary hopes will come out of our conversations in Athens is a negotiating framework within which we can plan a useful role; the Secretary wants to work out with the Greeks a common approach which can help bring about a satisfactory solution. This common approach must of course reflect the realities of the situation and not wishful thinking.
The Secretary wants to know what Caramanlis and his government envisage as a general outline of a solution that they can live with. The US has husbanded its influence with the Turks and is ready to use it at the appropriate time. But to use our influence effectively we must know what Greek goals are and what they regard as the outlines of a realistic settlement. If Caramanlis and his government wish to live with the status quo, that is their decision to make, but if they wish to move toward a solution we must know his position within fairly broad limits.
Such an outline must include at least three principal components: (A) the size of the Turkish-held area in Cyprus; (B) the size of Turkish forces and their rate of withdrawal; and (C) the refugee question.
Caramanlis said that a fourth component was the form of the future Cypriot Government.
Ambassador Tyler said that we would also be interested in Greek views on this point. Would the Greek Government accept a bizonal federal system for example? The Secretary would welcome their views.
Regarding procedures, the Secretary was ready to play a much more active role if this would be helpful. We would like to have Greek views on procedural questions. One approach would be direct talks between the Secretary and Caramanlis and Ecevit in Europe or in the U.S., or with Mavros and Gunes.
At this point in the meeting the PM asked Bitsios to telephone to the PM’s office in the Parliament building to say that he would be late for his next appointment. When Bitsios had left the room, Caramanlis [Page 486] turned to Ambassador Tyler and said that he attached great importance to the current discussions.
When Bitsios returned, Ambassador Tyler continued with his discussion of procedures. The first phase was to begin the process of seeking a framework for a Cyprus solution. The second phase was to obtain the blessing of this framework by the guarantor powers. (At this point Caramanlis interrupted to say that the guarantor powers had ceased to exist since in addition to the parties to the conflict there were only the British who “sat back with folded arms.”) Ambassador Tyler did not comment on this interdiction by Caramanlis but said that the third procedural phase would be for the details of a settlement to be worked out in talks between the communal leaders.
Caramanlis then said that he could suggest an alternative negotiating procedure. Instead of direct talks with the Turks, it would be possible to have indirect negotiations through intermediaries.
Ambassador Tyler said that he thought we would be receptive to any approach that would lead to a practical solution. There would certainly be a need for rapid and flexible communication of confidential information, if we were to play an intermediary role of the kind suggested by the Prime Minister. We would not wish to see the mistakes of Geneva repeated. Ambassador Tyler informed Caramanlis that the Secretary planned to ask David Bruce to play a role at an appropriate time. The overall timing of negotiations was, of course, up to Caramanlis but in our view it would be easier to find a lasting solution sooner rather than later when positions had hardened.
Ambassador Tyler suggested that Caramanlis consider the possible advantages of broadening the scope of the negotiations. If the Aegean question were included, a package settlement might be achieved in which Greece would obtain compensations to offset whatever concessions the Greeks might have to make on Cyprus.
At this time the meeting concluded. The PM said that he wished to meet again with Ambassador Tyler on Tuesday, September 10, at seven in the evening.6
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 124, Geopolitical File, Chronological File, Cyprus. Secret; Flash; Nodis; Cherokee.
  2. Telegram 6507, September 9, briefly summarized this meeting. (Ibid., Box CL 284, Memoranda of Conversations/Staff and Others, 1974).
  3. Kissinger sent retired Ambassador William Tyler to Athens and Wells Stabler to Ankara on informal missions in the aftermath of the second Turkish invasion. According to Years of Renewal, p. 235: “They were instructed to put forward a concept for a bizonal federation of Cyprus and a significant reduction of the Turkish-controlled areas, as well as a phased withdrawal of Turkish forces.”
  4. See footnote 2, Document 140.
  5. Not found.
  6. See Document 149.