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

6587. Subject: Cyprus: Second Caramanlis–Tyler Meeting.

The second meeting began at seven in the evening on Tuesday, September 10. It lasted one hour and forty minutes. Present in addition to Prime Minister Caramanlis and Ambassador Tyler were Deputy Foreign Minister Bitsios and DCM Stearns.
Following preliminary discussion of press inquiries on the Tyler visit (septel),2 Ambassador Tyler opened the discussion by saying that he wished to clarify his remarks at the first meeting on the subject of negotiating procedures.3 He wished to emphasize that Secretary Kissinger did not envisage direct Caramanlis–Ecevit or Mavros–Gunes talks in the initial stages of negotiations. What the Secretary had in mind were indirect talks. These could be conducted through the Secretary himself or another intermediary in whom both sides had confidence. Ambassador Tyler said that the Secretary did not insist that he be personally involved. Although he was ready to be involved if the [Page 496] parties thought this would be helpful. The Secretary would welcome Greek views on this point.
Caramanlis responded by saying that he agreed that indirect talks were advisable. He could not participate in a summit meeting unless the way were prepared in advance through indirect negotiations.
Ambassador Tyler said that indirect talks could be conducted in various ways. The Secretary could, for example, meet with Caramanlis and Ecevit separately on successive days in the same city. Rome or Vienna might be appropriate locations but there were of course other possibilities. Alternatively, if it were impractical for Caramanlis and Ecevit to be present in the same city, the Secretary might meet with Caramanlis in Corfu and then proceed to Ankara to see Ecevit.
Caramanlis repeated that advance preparation was essential from his point of view. Some preliminary progress would have to be made and a more favorable climate created before he, Ecevit and the Secretary began to tackle the problem.
Ambassador Tasca observed that a third, perhaps less desirable way, of conducting indirect talks would be in New York with Mavros and Gunes during the UN General Assembly session. If indirect talks at the Foreign Minister level were to take place, however, the Secretary believed that the two Foreign Ministers would have to be authorized to conduct the same kind of discussions that would have taken place at the Prime Minister level.
Caramanlis repeated that he could not engage in substantive negotiations, whether direct or indirect, without advance preparation. He then commented that he would like to describe to Ambassador Tyler the Greek Government’s perspective on the present crisis and the events which led up to it.
Caramanlis began by saying that he appreciated the Secretary’s initiative and was grateful to Ambassador Tyler for undertaking the current mission to which Caramanlis attached great importance. Ambassador Tyler had been frank in his exposition of American views—the Prime Minister would be equally candid.
Tyler had spoken of “pressure tactics” and anti-Americanism in Greece. The Prime Minister did not engage in blackmail. He was guided solely by Greek national interests. When he expressed disappointment with American policy, this was not a maneuver. His statements reflected genuine Greek conviction that there was a lack of understanding in Washington of the Greek position and of Greek interests. Caramanlis had deliberately refused to inflame Greek public opinion against the U.S. He was a man of moderation and had proved this by the tone of his statements. He had repeatedly advised the Greek people to remain calm. He had warned the press against irresponsible rumor-mongering. Under the circumstances, his criticism of American [Page 497] policy had been the least he could do and was a sincere expression of his feelings and those of the Greek people.
Caramanlis said, “When I returned to Greece, I found anti-American sentiments here: I did not create them.” These sentiments were generated both by popular disappointment with American policy on Cyprus and by a general feeling that the U.S. Government had supported the Greek military regime. Popular bitterness increased as the Turks continued their military operations on Cyprus and there was still no effective American reaction.
“I am a friend of the U.S. by conviction,” said Caramanlis, “and I am the first to regret anti-Americanism. I believe that in their hearts the Greek people still think that the U.S. will help them.” The Prime Minister added that he would try to maintain the moderate tone of his popular pronouncements. However, if the Turks were to remain inflexible, his tone would have to change.
“You know the recent history of the Cyprus conflict,” Caramanlis continued. “The junta made a stupid mistake in trying to purge Makarios and they later claimed to have been encouraged by Washington.” The PM believed that the attempted coup could have been prevented by Washington and London. The British had both the right and the duty under the London–Zurich accords to act to protect the independence and legitimacy of Cyprus. They failed to do so. The Turks took advantage of the junta’s stupidity to execute a plan that had been prepared beforehand. Caramanlis believed that the Americans and British could have prevented both the junta’s coup against Makarios and the Turkish landings in Cyprus. If the U.S. was genuinely concerned about anti-Americanism in Greece, Washington should admit that it had followed the wrong policy and help find a solution to the Cyprus crisis which the Greek Government and the Greek people could accept. If this were done, the bitterness of Greeks toward the U.S. would gradually fade.
Continuing with his presentation the PM said that even if the initial Turkish landing on Cyprus were construed to have been justified by the junta’s coup against Makarios—a contention Caramanlis did not accept—the second phase of the Turkish military actions was totally inexcusable and clearly expansionist. The Turkish beachhead after their initial landings was roughly four to five percent of the land area of Cyprus. The Turks accepted a ceasefire and negotiations in Geneva. Their action in establishing the Atilla line was a “premeditated crime.”
The Prime Minister then proceeded to review the course of events at the second Geneva conference. He said that the Turks had proposed a plan which was unacceptable to the Greek Government. Nevertheless, the Greek Government requested a delay of twenty-four [Page 498] hours to study the Turkish proposal because of the lack of a Turkish response to the Greek request. The twenty-four hours became thirty-six hours. Secretary Kissinger had called the PM at two in the morning asking him to keep Mavros and the Greek delegation in Geneva. The PM had done so and had then found himself faced with a Turkish ultimatum. The Turks launched their attack at five in the morning. Thus, summarized Caramanlis, there was no shred of a pretext for their second military offensive. He said, “It was an attempt to kill my government and they did it under the eyes of the Americans.” For these reasons the PM believed that the U.S. had made mistakes both of omission and commission. We must begin to take the initiatives necessary to remedy the situation. Faced with the threat of Turkish military action in Cyprus, the U.S. might have reacted as it had in 1964. The U.S. had ways and means of stopping the Turks without intervening militarily. Not only had we failed to act along the lines of our 1964 policy, we did not even give moral satisfaction to the Greeks by condemning publicly what the Turks had done.
Greece had shown moderation in its Cyprus policy since 1960, Caramanlis said. He personally had taken the lead in this by signing the London–Zurich accords. He had formally relinquished the goal of enosis which had great popular appeal in Greece. As PM he had signed these accords in 1960 despite Greek public opinion and in order to preserve Greek-Turkish friendship. He had been similarly moderate in the present crisis when he told the Greek people frankly that Greece could not fight the Turks on Cyprus. It was not a question of winning or losing. Greek military action against Turkey would have been extremely popular even if the Greeks were unable to defeat the Turks in the field. Instead of calling for military action against Turkey the PM had shown moderation and had called for a peaceful effort to achieve a just settlement of the Cyprus problem.
But, said Caramanlis, this Greek restraint could not continue indefinitely in the face of Turkish provocations. Cyprus would become a “volcano” if nothing was done to redress the situation. The peace of the area would be endangered and the Soviet Union would seize the opportunity to involve itself in the crisis and increase its influence in the region. Caramanlis said he was not making a threat. This was his realistic appraisal of the dangers. If Greece continued to be humiliated by the Turks, Greece would have to go to war. “I would have to go to war or leave the country. I was welcomed back to Greece as a savior. I could not let my own people down.” War, of course, would be a catastrophe but there would be no other choice. And if war occurred, others would inevitably be involved. These were not empty words or blustering threats. If an honorable solution to the Cyprus problem was not found, the PM saw these as the inevitable consequences of a problem that would continue to fester. This was the way the Greek Government [Page 499] saw the Cyprus situation and Caramanlis wanted the U.S. to understand its point of view.
Ambassador Tyler said that he would faithfully report to Secretary Kissinger what the PM had said. He would, however, like to comment on some of the allegations made by Caramanlis. The PM should not deceive himself into believing that the U.S. was laboring under a sense of guilt. The President and the Secretary believed that we had done everything that we could do to avert the crisis. We had no intention of admitting “mistakes” because we did not accept that we had made mistakes. At this point in the meeting Defense Minister Averoff called the PM and, at the request of Caramanlis, Bitsios left the room to take the call. In his absence Caramanlis remarked, “We really have different viewpoints on this particular issue. I sincerely believe that you could have done more.” Ambassador Tyler replied that the PM must believe that the President and the Secretary were convinced that we had done all we could. If Caramanlis really believed that we had encouraged the junta, as Ambassador Tyler had understood him to say, then the PM was wrong. Washington accepted no responsibility for the stupidity of the junta.
When Bitsios reappeared, Ambassador Tyler repeated to the Prime Minister that our desire to be helpful in resolving the Cyprus crisis in a way that would be consistent with Greece’s honor and dignity was not just rhetoric. The U.S. was sincerely and deeply desirous of being helpful, not to expiate “guilt” but because peace in the area and the interests of our friends were important to us. Ambassador Tyler would not wish the PM to think that he was coming to him as a supplicant.
Caramanlis laughed at this and said, “I don’t ask that you come as a supplicant. I understand that you do not accept any imputation of guilt. There is a difference of viewpoint between our two countries. That is all.”
Ambassador Tyler said that the Cyprus dispute involved high stakes. He had noted the PM’s remarks about the dangers that would result if no satisfactory solution were found. He had noted the PM’s remarks about exploitation of the Cyprus problem and finally, he had noted that Caramanlis was not making threats but giving his honest appreciation of the situation. He would report these things to the Secretary. Meanwhile, he hoped that the PM understood that Tyler’s mission reflected the serious interest of the U.S. and our desire to help the parties to the Cyprus dispute move toward a settlement that both could live with.
The PM said that Bitsios would outline the Greek position on a Cyprus solution. Before he did so Caramanlis wanted to make two preliminary points. The Turks must stop presenting Greece with faits [Page 500] accomplis and cease their provocations. Greek refugees were arriving in Greece who had been forced out of Turkish-controlled Cyprus and elsewhere. There were 130,000 Turks in Western Thrace. Greek public opinion would favor forcing them to return to Turkey. Caramanlis would resist this pressure but could not do so indefinitely without clear signs of Turkish flexibility.
Bitsios then read aloud the text of what he and Caramanlis characterized as an “unofficial” statement of the Greek position on a possible Cyprus solution (text was subsequently handed to us and is being transmitted by septel).4
When Bitsios had completed reading the paper, Caramanlis asked Tyler whether he wished to comment on the substance of the Greek position. The PM emphasized that Greece accepted the Turkish claim of federation but that it had to be on a reasonable basis.
Ambassador Tyler replied that he would refrain from commenting on the Greek position but, if the Prime Minister was interested, would outline Washington’s preliminary estimate of what a settlement might look like. He would of course fully report the Greek position as given in the informal document which Bitsios had read.
Caramanlis then said that during the first meeting Ambassador Tyler had mentioned a possible package deal. The US should realize that, as far as Greece was concerned, Cyprus was the outstanding problem. In the Greek view any other problems were covered by existing treaties. It was the Turks who complained about “other problems”, not Greeks. Nevertheless, if progress were made toward a Cyprus settlement, the Greek Government would have no objection to discussing other subjects with the Turks.
Bitsios then amplified Greek views on the problem of the minorities in Greece and Turkey. He said that at the time of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1924 there were roughly 100,000 Greeks in Istanbul and 100,000 Turks in western Thrace. Today there were —[less than] 30,000 Turks in western Thrace and only ten to fifteen thousand Greeks in Istanbul. The Turkish Government must stop agitating this issue just as they must stop agitating the Cyprus issue.
Caramanlis repeated that if the Turks were not persuaded to control their actions in Cyprus a “catastrophe” would not be easy to avert. Turkish military actions had given them a superiority complex. They had become arrogant. If they did not adopt a more reasonable attitude the joint efforts of Greece and the US would be in vain.
The group then discussed the question of press interest in the Tyler visit. This part of the discussion has been reported in septel.
Caramanlis then turned to Ambassador Tyler and said again that he hoped that the initiative being taken by the US would bring results. Secretary Kissinger had enjoyed spectacular success in reconciling enemies. It ought to be easier to reconcile allies. He requested Tyler to convey his greeting to the Secretary and said that the Greek Government looked forward with keen interest to Washington’s reaction to current discussions and to the Greek point of view.
Ambassador Tyler observed that Ambassador Kubisch, a close friend of the Secretary who had worked with him for three years, would be arriving in Athens on September 19 and could at that time provide Washington reaction. Tyler asked whether the Greek Government wished to be advised of Washington’s reaction before September 19.
Caramanlis said that he would appreciate receiving word from Washington as soon as possible. This was particularly important in view of the fact that debate on the Cyprus problem was imminent in the UN General Assembly and this would almost certainly lead to exchanges of recriminations and worsening of climate for negotiations. If the Secretary’s reaction to the Greek position on Cyprus as set forth in the PM’s talks with Ambassador Tyler led the Greek Government to believe that progress was possible, Caramanlis could ask the Cypriots to delay General Assembly debate on the Cyprus issue.
Ambassador Tyler asked whether Caramanlis wished to meet with him again. Caramanlis smiled and said that personally he would be glad to but that in view of the apparent leak about the Tyler mission he thought it would be difficult to have another meeting. Furthermore, it appeared to the PM that all of the main ground had been covered in the first two meetings.
Ambassador Tyler said that since this would be the final meeting, he would like, with the PM’s permission, to outline the Secretary’s preliminary estimate of a possible Cyprus settlement. In the Secretary’s view, some kind of bizonal federal arrangement seemed the most practical framework. (Caramanlis remarked that, “we accept this idea, although the Greek Cypriots do not.”) Ambassador Tyler continued by saying that we envisaged some reduction in the area of Turkish control and important reductions in the size of the Turkish forces. (Bitsios said that if we envisaged Turkish troops remaining on Cyprus after a final settlement was achieved, this would not be compatible with Cypriot sovereignty.) Ambassador Tyler said that as far as the refugee problem was concerned we believed that there would be the return of some refugees to their homes but probably a fairly sizeable exchange of populations as well.
The PM asked whether these were Secretary Kissinger’s views on a final settlement.
Ambassador Tyler said that they were his preliminary estimates at this time. Of course, any bizonal federal solution would have to be accepted by the two communities on the island if it were to work. Two final points that Ambassador Tyler wished to make on behalf of the Secretary were that a successful U.S. mediatory role would require careful preparation and the confidence of the parties involved in the dispute.
Bitsios said that the Turks had accepted a solution based on the independence of Cyprus. A bizonal solution would verge on partition. It would amount to de facto rather than de jure partition. How would it work in practice? Would a Greek Cypriot need a passport to cross the “frontier” between the two zones?
The PM observed that the Turks had claimed that they had landed troops in Cyprus to protect its independence and sovereignty. Bizonal arrangements seemed to qualify Cypriot sovereignty and he wondered whether the Turks had further expansionist aims. If the outline of an eventual settlement provided by Ambassador Tyler represented Secretary Kissinger’s point of departure as a mediator, Caramanlis was not particularly optimistic about the chances of success. Bitsios commented that bizonal arrangements would raise qualitative as well as quantitative questions. The northern part of the island presently occupied by the Turks represented eighty per cent or more of the productive capacity and wealth of Cyprus. Tyler repeated that he had given only a preliminary appraisal.
In conclusion Caramanlis said that Greek Government was aware that it would have to make concessions, but, “we will not let the Turks have everything they want.” In 1960 the Greeks had abandoned enosis and accepted the independence of Cyprus. In 1974, the Greeks were prepared to accept modifications of the 1960 structure and the creation of a federal system of government in Cyprus. It was not realistic to expect the Greek Government to go further than that. If a “solution” was arrived at which humiliated the Greek Government or proved impossible for Greek Cypriots to live with, it would not last.
The meeting ended with a friendly exchange of greetings and farewells at 8:45 p.m.
  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 284, Memoranda of Conversations, Staff and Others, 1974. Secret; Flash; Nodis; Cherokee.
  2. Telegram 6586 from Athens, September 10. (Ibid., Box CL 124, Geopolitical File, Chronological File, Cyprus)
  3. Kissinger sent Tyler instructions on this issue in telegram 197320 to Athens, September 9. (Ibid.)
  4. Document 150.