148. Memorandum From the Director of the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (Hyland) to Secretary of State Kissinger 1


Attached is the chronology you requested of significant intelligence reporting and events leading up to the anti-Makarios coup. The conclusions seem to be:

Between about mid-May and mid-June, there was growing concern in Washington within the State Department (at the desk level) and in Embassy Nicosia that a confrontation between Makarios and Athens was becoming a dangerous risk; before any significant CIA reporting was received on a posible Ioannides-sponsored coup, the Department recommended to Ambassador Tasca that a démarche be made in Athens.
  • —In this period, for some reason, Embassy Athens resisted any approaches to the Greek Government, despite the fact that on May 29 CIA reported that Ioannides was thinking about removing Makarios.
  • Apparently the Embassy made a low-key intervention on June 17 to the Cyprus desk officer in the Greek Foreign Ministry (the Department had by then acquiesced in a low-key approach).

    In light of this record, it is reasonable to question whether Ioannides, who was speculating freely about his various plans, [less than 1 line not declassified]received what he might have construed to be a weak US response.

Nevertheless, the intelligence in the subsequent period through early July was erratic and probably included some deliberate misinformation from Ioannides.
  • —On June 19 CIA reported [less than 1 line not declassified] that Ioannides had not made up his mind.
  • —On June 28 CIA reported Ioannides was working up “contingency plans” should Makarios force a showdown.
  • On July 3 CIA, [less than 1 line not declassified], claimed that Ioannides had decided against action to remove Makarios (sic).


  • —On June 29 the Department instructed Athens to inform Ioannides that the US would be strongly opposed to any effort to remove Makarios.
  • —On July 1 Tasca objected to this démarche.
  • Tasca did, however, talk to the Greek President Ghizikis and expressed his satisfaction with Ghizikis’ reiteration of Greece’s attachment to the inter communal talks.
In the immediate pre-coup period the intelligence continued to be ambiguous; [less than 1 line not declassified]CIA [less than 1 line not declassified] on July 12 reported that Ioannides felt that the removal of Makarios would lead to ramifications too explosive to ensure success (this was not received until July 15).
On the other hand, there was sufficient concern in the Department and in Nicosia which led to Ambassador Davies’ conversations with Makarios on July 12 in which he told the Archbishop that (1) we had informed the Greek government that resort to violence would exacerbate Cyprus’ problems, and (2) that the Greek government was aware of US opposition to activities that tended to threaten stability in the eastern Mediterranean. (Comment: One can only speculate whether this information conveyed to Makarios on July 12 was too reassuring, since in fact we had made only limited and lower level interventions in Athens.)

One cannot conclude from the attached survey that we had what could be called “warning” of an impending coup. What we did have were sufficient storm signals to warrant some diplomatic action—which, in retrospect, seems to have been weak and indecisive. Thus, it is possible that in Athens our policy was interpreted as seeming acquiescence in Ioannides’ plans, especially since the Greek junta could not know of the various pulling and hauling between the Department and the Embassy.

[2 paragraphs (13 lines) not declassified]

Attachment 2


Rising Tension

Longstanding differences between Athens and Makarios became acute following Ioannides’ seizure of power in November 1973. Ioannides regarded Makarios as overdependent on the support of the Cypriot Communist Party and dangerously beholden to the USSR. He was, moreover, frustrated by Makarios’ independence from Athens’ influence and by his inability to affect Nicosia’s policies, particularly in the context of the intercommunal problem.

[Page 489]

Following the death of General Grivas in January, Ioannides launched a campaign to gain control of EOKA–B, Grivas’ terrorist organization, using the Cyprus National Guard led by officers seconded from the Greek army.

For his part Makarios had long regarded the National Guard as a hotbed of subversion completely subservient to Athens and a force to be feared. He had formed the Tactical Reserve Unit as a palace guard loyal to his person. As EOKA–B violence increased, he was busy expanding and arming the TRU, but he must have been aware that it could never hope to stand up to the 10,000-man National Guard.

Tension came to a head in early May when EOKA–B guerrillas stole arms from a National Guard armory with the probable connivance of NG officers. In a letter to Greek Foreign Minister Tetenes, Makarios protested anti-Makarios activities by the NG. By mid-May the collision course had been set.

Consideration of US Démarche

On May 17 the Department proposed (103030)3 that Athens approach Greek leaders, including Ioannides, to convey US disquiet over the course of events in Cyprus. Athens (3121)4 on May 24 recommended against such a démarche on grounds that

  • —Foreign Minister Tetenes had denounced the arms theft;
  • —As a staunch anti-Communist who viewed Makarios as too relaxed toward Communist activities on the island, Ioannides would react negatively;
  • —The GOG could not be expected to take action against NG or EOKA–B activities unless the GOC distanced itself from leftist support and disbanded its armed groups;
  • —The démarche would be untimely because the GOG appeared to be reviewing the NG’s role in Cyprus;
  • —A direct approach to Ioannides carried risks that could adversely affect US security interests in Greece.

On the other hand, Embassy Nicosia (1002)5 on May 29 endorsed an early US approach to both the military and civilian Greek leadership, arguing that NG involvement in an EOKA–B move to overthrow Makarios would prompt a forceful Turkish reaction.

On May 29 Ioannides [less than 1 line not declassified] CIA [less than 1 line not declassified] that [Page 490]

  • —Greece was capable of removing Makarios with little bloodshed and he felt that Turkey would quietly acquiesce to such a coup.
  • —Nevertheless, he believed Makarios’ continuation in office at least in the short run was in Greece’s national interest. He said that he had not made a decision on Greece’s policy toward Cyprus, but added that in the long run Makarios would not serve Greece’s interests because he was irrevocably leading Cyprus into Soviet arms.
  • —He could either pull Greek troops out of Cyprus and let Makarios fend for himself or remove him, but both options were distasteful and extremely dangerous.

On May 31 Embassy Athens (3289)6 repeated its reservations to a US démarche, asserting that other matters in US-Greek relations and the Aegean dispute argued against US involvement in the Athens–Nicosia tension. Athens estimated that the GOG was not so important as to risk action in Cyprus that could escalate dangerously. It said that, in any event, the initiatives should rest with the parties to the London–Zurich accords.

On June 8 the Department responded (121776)7 to the views of Embassies Athens and Nicosia by informing Athens that it continued “to feel that some expression of US concern in low key to GOG is desirable, but we leave this matter to your discretion.”

On June 13 Embassy Athens reported that it raised the concerns contained in the Department’s May 17 telegram with the Cyprus desk officer in the Greek Foreign Ministry.

Makarios Prepares

By the end of May we began receiving information of Makarios’ plans for the drastic reduction of the NG and the expulsion of mainland Greek officers. During June Makarios intensified his public attacks on the NG and promised to purge the force. Meanwhile, violence on the island continued unabated and Embassy Nicosia reported that Makarios’ campaign against the NG had not received widespread popular support. Many Cypriots felt that the NG was a necessary counterweight to the ambitions of the left and indispensable in a confrontation with the Turks.

On June 17 Embassy Nicosia (1153)8 suggested that, without furthering Makarios’ efforts to establish control over the National Guard, the US should continue efforts to convince Athens that toppling Makarios would generate instability.

[Page 491]

On June 19 Ioannides [less than 1 line not declassified] CIA [less than 1 line not declassified] that

  • —He had not made up his mind on whether to pull out of Cyprus completely or remove Makarios and then deal directly with Turkey over the future of the island.
  • —He believed Makarios had chosen this period of Greek-Turkish tension over the Aegean to consolidate his power and destroy Greek influence in Cyprus.
  • —“The Turks would agree to the removal of their archfoe, Makarios,” but if not, he would propose an all-encompassing agreement to settle all outstanding problems between Greece and Turkey. His terms amounted to Turkish capitulation in Cyprus and the Aegean.
  • —He felt the only major obstacle to an agreement along those lines would be the uncertain reaction of the USSR.
  • —He suspected that the US would favor a Greek-Turkish agreement that would remove all points of friction.

On June 24 Tasca (Athens 3936)9 expressed increasing concern over the developing crisis in Cyprus. He thought it probable that the initial stage of a head-on collision between Makarios and Ioannides had begun. He continued to oppose a US démarche to Athens, noting that this would appear to question the announced Greek policy of support for the intercommunal talks and opposition to all violence on Cyprus. Instead Tasca recommended US approaches to the UN and NATO Secretaries General to encourage them to work directly with the London–Zurich signatories. On June 25 Embassy Ankara (5012)10 concurred wholeheartedly with Tasca’s recommendation.

Agreeing with the gravity of the situation as posed by Tasca and that a formal US démarche was not desirable at that time, Embassy Nicosia (1224)11 stated on June 27 that Makarios’ confrontation was with Ioannides and the NG, not with EOKA–B. Nicosia felt that Ankara was likely to react quickly against an “enosist coup.” The Embassy proposed that Ambassador Davies warn Makarios of the dangers of confrontation in his initial interview and stressed that Ioannides “should be reached,” adding that “Any help NATO can provide is fine, but we wonder if Luns has all the arguments at his fingertips.”

The CIA reported June 28 [less than 1 line not declassified] that Ioannides [less than 1 line not declassified] he would continue taking action to thwart Makarios’ tactical moves while developing with his advisers [Page 492] a contingency plan should Makarios force Greece into a showdown situation. In its NID of June 29 the CIA noted that Ioannides had speculated the previous week on the possibility of removing Makarios and entering into an “all-encompassing” agreement with Ankara, but that he considered such a move dangerous and was unlikely to attempt it soon unless Makarios pressed the NG issue too far.

On June 29, against a background of increasingly sharp démarches between Nicosia and Athens over the National Guard, the Department (141500)12 instructed Ambassador Tasca to inform Ioannides that the US would be strongly opposed to any effort to remove Makarios from power by violent means. Tasca in his reply July 1 (4179)13 objected to such a démarche and recommended waiting until Ambassador Davies could provide an assessment following his initial contacts with Makarios and other Cypriot personalities. He contended that

  • —the GOG was fully aware of the US opposition to any resort to violence and support for a peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem through intercommunal talks;
  • —he had expressed this US position the previous week to Archbishop Seraphim, who is close to President Ghizikis and Ioannides;
  • —he would “again refer to our interest in a peaceful settlement” when he would see Ghizikis the following day.

Subsequently Ambassador Tasca reported (4254)14 that in his July 2 conversation with Ghizikis he expressed his satisfaction at the reiteration of Greece’s attachment to the intercommunal talks and opposition to violence. He felt that his conversation would be reported to Ioannides.

No additional cabled instructions were sent to Athens, but in the following days Department officers were in telephone communication with Embassy Athens for specific information on how the US position had been conveyed to Greek leaders. In its cable of July 11 (4378)15 Embassy Athens stated that in addition to Tasca’s approaches, noted above, other Embassy elements had “used their own channels to convey the US position against any resort to violence on Cyprus.” The Embassy added CIA information that upon learning of Tasca’s meeting with Ghizikis, Ioannides said that Tasca’s “policy line with regard to Cyprus and the Aegean controversy was particularly pleasing.”

[Page 493]

[less than 1 line not declassified] CIA [less than 1 line not declassified] stated on July 3 that Ioannides had decided, for the time being, against action to remove Makarios because of

  • —the uncertainty of Soviet reaction and
  • —fear that Turkey might misinterpret the move.

On July 2 Makarios wrote to Ghizikis formally announcing his plan to reduce the National Guard drastically and demanding the recall of the mainland Greek officers. Makarios released the contents to the public. On that day INR commented in the Secretary’s Summary that Makarios’ decision to expel over 90 percent of the mainland officers would precipitate a confrontation with the Ioannides regime.

On July 5 [less than 1 line not declassified]CIA [less than 1 line not declassified] reported that Prime Minister Androutsopoulous confided that Athens would attempt to persuade Makarios to postpone his plans. Androutsopoulous’ tone was conciliatory. In its NID of July 8 CIA estimated that the GOG would try to stall attempts by Makarios to reduce the number of mainland officers and thus buy time. In the Secretary’s Summary of July 7 INR thought that Makarios was likely to feel that Athens’ argument for not immediately complying with his request to remove the officers was only a ruse to keep Greek forces on the island. According to the INR comment, his suspicions would be heightened by Athens claim that it could not control anti-Makarios activities by Greek nationals.

On July 5 Tetenes and the two next highest officials of the Foreign Ministry resigned. The CIA had reported on June 21 [document number not declassified]16 that Tetenes had urged an accommodating stance toward Makarios, and the resignation may have been over his failure to dissuade Ioannides from action.

In a conversation with Deputy Assistant Secretary Stabler on July 9 (150100)17 Cyprus Ambassador Dimitriou referred to Makarios’ letter and opined that Greece “won’t take this lying down.” He speculated that Athens might withdraw the NG completely and recall its ambassador.

[less than 1 line not declassified] CIA [less than 1 line not declassified] reported on July 11 that Makarios’ response to Androutsopoulos’ request for a delay in the implementation of the Archbishop’s NG plans was negative. Androutsopoulous said that extremes should be avoided and a compromise sought. In its NID of July 11 the CIA stated that an attempt by the Greek junta to remove Makarios could not be ruled out.

[Page 494]

On July 11, reacting to Nicosia’s proposal of June 27, the Department instructed (150449)18 Ambassador Davies to comment as follows in a scheduled meeting with Makarios if he should raise the subject of Greece–Cyprus relations:

  • —the US has informed the GOG that resort to violence would exacerbate Cyprus’ problems;
  • —the GOG is aware of US opposition to activities that tend to threaten stability in the eastern Mediterranean, peaceful relations among our allies, and the single, sovereign, and independent status of Cyprus;
  • —the US hopes that issues between Cyprus and Greece can be resolved in a manner consistent with Cyprus’ sovereignty, independence, and security and with the interests of stability in the region.

Davies conveyed this information to Makarios on July 12.

On the same day [less than 1 line not declassified] CIA [less than 1 line not declassified] reported the statement of a Soviet diplomat in Athens that a strong Soviet démarche would be sent to the GOG warning against interference in Cyprus.

On July 13 in the Secretary’s Summary INR said that since receiving Makarios’ letter demanding the recall of most of the mainland officers, Athens had reacted moderately, but the Ioannides regime was capable of an attempt to remove Makarios.

Information obtained by [less than 1 line not declassified] CIA [less than 1 line not declassified] on July 12, received by the Department on July 15, purported that Ioannides felt removal of Makarios at this time would lead to ramifications too explosive to ensure success. Ioannides added that on July 12 a reduction of 100 mainland officers from the NG would be ordered.

As the record shows, there was ample intelligence prior to the July 15 coup of the heightening tension developing between the Greek and Cypriot governments. Although much of it was conflicting, and even intentionally misleading, the weight of evidence pointed to an impending direct move against Makarios by Ioannides.

Ioannides may well have read into the US warnings that reached him primary concern over intercommunal violence. (According to a CIA [less than 1 line not declassified][TDFIBDB–315/06765–74],19 when asked immediately after the coup about foreign reaction, Ioannides replied, “the Americans are okay.”) He could have concluded that he had a free hand, insofar as the United States was concerned, as long as his gambit was intra-Greek. Indeed, immediately following the coup on July 15, the Sampson government was at pains to reassure the Turkish Cypriot community.

[Page 495]

It may be relevant to point out that during the months of spring and early summer our attention was fixed on the Aegean dispute as the arena that would most readily ignite into Greek-Turkish hostilities. Although we felt that Cyprus would inevitably be dragged into such a conflict, we were less certain that Cyprus would be the flash point. Perhaps as a consequence, our sensitivities to Cyprus-related events were less sharp than they should have been. Be it noted, however, that our reasoning was shared by Makarios. He undoubtedly decided to use the opportunity of what he thought would be Ioannides’ preoccupation with Turkey to assert control over the NG. He miscalculated only in that he greatly overestimated Ioannides’ understanding of Turkish imperatives.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 124, Geopolitical File, Chronological File, Cyprus. Secret; Nodis.
  2. Secret; No Foreign Dissem; Controlled Dissem; No Dissem Abroad; Background Use Only; Nodis.
  3. Telegram 103030 to Athens, May 17. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1974)
  4. Telegram 3121 from Athens, May 24. (Ibid.)
  5. Telegram 1002 from Nicosia, May 29. (Ibid.)
  6. Telegram 3289 from Athens, May 31. (Ibid.)
  7. Telegram 121776 to Athens and Nicosia, June 8. (Ibid.)
  8. Telegram 1153 from Nicosia, June 17. (Ibid.)
  9. Telegram 3936 from Athens, June 24. (Ibid.)
  10. Document 76.
  11. Telegram 1224 from Nicosia, June 27. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1974)
  12. Document 77.
  13. Telegram 4179 from Athens, July 1. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1974)
  14. Telegram 4254 from Athens, July 3. (Ibid.)
  15. Telegram 4378 from Athens, July 11. (Ibid.)
  16. Not found.
  17. Telegram 150100 to Nicosia, July 11. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1974)
  18. Telegram 150449 to Nicosia, July 11. (Ibid.)
  19. Not found. Brackets in the original.