153. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Secretary’s Meeting with Foreign Minister George Mavros
Foreign Minister George Mavros The Secretary
UN Permanent Representative Karayiannis Under Secretary Joseph J. Sisco
Ambassador to the U.S. Alexandrakis Assistant Secretary Arthur A. Hartman
Ambassador Tzounis, Director General for Political Affairs
Mr. William Eagleton, EUR/SE (Notetaker)
Mr. C. Yerocostopoulos, Attaché, MFA

Mavros: I have talked with Makarios. In his UNGA speech he will talk about Turkish aggression. He will oppose single geographic divisions, which would mean an exchange of populations and would lead to partition and double enosis and the end of Cyprus independence. There is a possibility of a geographic federation not with one but with several cantons and without much exchange of population. The majority of the Turks would be in five, sex, seven or eight cantons.

The Secretary: How did the Turks and Greeks get together on the same island?

Mavros: They must live together on the island. The division of the island into two might be an impossibility. Makarios believes the solution could be found in a larger body, but not necessarily the Soviet proposal. Still, it could be a wider body within the framework of the UN.

The Secretary has told us he is going to Ankara on the 14th.

[Page 508]

The Secretary: That depends on the situation in Turkey.

Mavros: The first thing in Ankara should be the refugee problem and the possibility of sending 50,000 of them to Famagusta.

The Secretary: I have not had any exchanges with the Turks yet. The tragedy is that the Turks’ proposal to us on August 8 would only have had them take the Turkish part of Famagusta and they only wanted two-thirds of what they have now. Was it ever presented in Geneva? If you had been willing to give them their northern canton they would have held off.

Mavros: My impression from Callaghan was that the Turks had already decided on military action.

The Secretary: This proposal was not taken to the conference?

Mavros: No. Gunes was proceeding on the basis of an ultimatum. We had the impression a military move was imminent.

The Secretary: I would be amazed if they would let 50,000 back to Famagusta before negotiations began. When I suggest is we get some troop withdrawal, some return of refugees, and I don’t know what else.

Mavros: And what in exchange? If they want their people to go to occupy the homes of the Greeks it would be accepting a mass exchange and it would cause a terrible refugee problem.

The Secretary: I don’t have details in mind but I have the impression they want an exchange of population.

Mavros: But with many small cantons they would not need such an exchange.

The Secretary: This is not likely though.

Mavros: Makarios knows how a number of cantons could encompass the Turkish population. No Greek Government could accept anything except something near the percentage of the Turkish population, and with a number of cantons. The way the problem should be put to the Turks is this: Do you want a just and fair solution? Ambassador Tzounis feels from talking to Makarios that he thinks this multi- cantonal solution is fair.

Tzounis: He thinks this is fair.

The Secretary: It is impossible. If Makarios wants a big conference we will do as the others do. It will lead to a stalemate and no results.

When I saw Makarios in July2 he did not want any cantons. If he had wanted them we might have proposed it. He wanted the Constitution of 1960 which is unworkable. I believe the outcome will be a [Page 509] federal solution with one Turkish canton in the north. The size could be negotiated as well as the nature of the federal system. But cantons of small size do not seem practical.

Mavros: Gunes proposed five cantons in Geneva.

Tzounis: The main canton was 17% of the island.

The Secretary: He wanted that one at once. Maybe the others would not have come into being. Ecevit told us if you (the Greeks) would agree to let the Turks occupy 17% there would be time to negotiate about the remainder. He gave us a map.

Mavros: Gunes produced a scheme for 34%.

Tzounis: The large area with 17% and the smaller cantons would total another 17%.

The Secretary: My impression is we could have negotiated at that time and kept them with the northern canton and little else.

Mavros: What do you think his position is today?

The Secretary: I have avoided pressing them on this without knowing your position. I don’t want to be the whipping boy. If I make a proposal the Greek politicians will object. My impression is the Turks want a bizonal system.

Karayiannis: Is it your impression that what you could eventually work out would be less or more than the Turks proposed in July?

The Secretary: That is a good question. If I had been in good communication with your government in August I could have assured you an outcome less than they offered. Now I think it is hard to resurrect the proposal of August. Now we have the present zone but it can be reduced.

Karayiannis: But do you think we would be asked to give more than we were asked to give in Geneva?

The Secretary: I don’t yet have a judgment. I would try to get the best terms possible. It might be possible to get less than 34%, but that would probably be one area. I have not yet had a serious discussion with the Turks.

Mavros: If Makarios says this is a betrayal it will cause a problem.

The Secretary: I agree. We should try to find an acceptable solution.

Mavros: We hope not to make Cyprus a political issue in the elections.

The Secretary: Sending 50,000 Greeks to Famagusta is not possible. If I have to say he does that before negotiations it is impossible. I don’t exclude that by the end 50,000 will return but it is next to impossible at the beginning.

Mavros: In the present state of affairs with elections we will want at least to prevent a deterioration of the situation.

[Page 510]

The Secretary: Yes. We can prevent deterioration and I can in Ankara bring some symbolic gesture, some refugees to return and some troop withdrawal.

Mavros: They will ask something in exchange.

The Secretary: My recommendation to Ecevit will be the gestures should be made without reciprocity. But I do not want every Greek politician to attack me for not doing enough. Why should we exert ourselves to be the whipping boy of Greek politics?

Sisco: It is important in connection with your trip that our Greek friends understand what is realistically possible so that there will be no misunderstanding.

The Secretary: I think it is possible to get symbolic gestures.

Mavros: You don’t think 50,000 to Famagusta is symbolic?

The Secretary: For the Turks that is a major substantive concession. They might give it at the end but not at the beginning. I reminded Ecevit in the cable3 that his original suggestion did not include Greek Famagusta. He did not give a forthcoming reply.

What could happen is the Turks make symbolic concessions, show their recognition of certain problems, then the two communities could get to the main problems. We could agree on some principles.

Mavros: We do not want the Greek press to be anti-American. We have talked to them and they promised. But I don’t think they could take the action of August 8 in silence. I don’t think we should give them big expectations for your trip.

The Secretary: I agree. We probably will announce my visit to Ankara while I am on the trip.

Mavros: We will say he is not going to get a solution or act as a mediator.

The Secretary: The question will be asked why I did not visit Athens.

Mavros: We will say the problem is in Ankara so that it would not be considered unusual.

Hartman: But it does not help us to say the problem is in Ankara. Why can’t you welcome the trip as a contribution?

The Secretary: As an encouraging sign?

Mavros: Yes, we could. Still some of the press might write that it should have come sooner.

The Secretary: Suppose the Turks make concessions. What will you say? Will it be greeted as a contribution, or will they say those bastards are doing it to us again?

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Mavros: We can say that it is all right but it is for the Cypriots to make the decision.

The Secretary: I understand, but you must decide how far you are going to carry anti-Americanism. Up to a point it cuts the ground from under Papandreou but at some point we will lose our interest.

Mavros: There is a stage if the communities reach agreement.

The Secretary: We could study some general principles which Clerides and Denktash could adopt.

Karayiannis: If the Turks make a gesture could you (Mavros) say in Athens that these would facilitate the communal talks?

Mavros: It would cause a problem if the gesture is just a withdrawal from 40 to 38% or of the forces from 40 to 35,000. This is all the same to me. We cannot make a public statement giving much importance to this.

The Secretary: Suppose 5,000 refugees return, 5,000 troops withdraw, and there is a small pullback as a beginning.

Mavros: Makarios pointed out that there are hotels in Famagusta that can take 1,000 people. That would help solve the refugee problem.

The Secretary: But the Turks won’t do this for nothing.

Mavros: These refugees are a large proportion of the Cyprus population.

The Secretary: There are now 2 million Arab refugees. This is a U.S. electoral period but after the election the Greek Congressmen won’t excite public opinion. If after your election anti-Americanism continues I will talk back. You should have no illusion that this will go on in the U.S. press, except for the New York Times and the Washington Post which will bring up the issue every two weeks.

We can agree to the Russian proposal and have an international conference. Then the press can say let the conference settle it. I just want to be realistic.

Congress might cut off military aid and aid might slow down to Greece. We want to be realistic.

Mavros: We too. Makarios is realistic. He told me that a solution would come from pressure from Washington.

The Secretary: You can’t have this pressure if you put pressure on us. We won’t go on the barricade on the UN resolution, unless it was too obnoxious. If there is a big conference we will do what others do—speeches and nothing will happen. We will not cooperate with the Soviet Union on the Cyprus solution. We cannot allow the Soviets to decide on a question between two allies and to have an effect on the situation in the Middle East. In a big conference we will join in the rhetoric. I don’t want to be cynical but what has world opinion done for anybody? I don’t object to your having a resolution. What can we realistically do?

[Page 512]

Before your elections we won’t embarrass you, but afterward we must have a new situation of confidence. What we did for the Arabs was difficult. We can’t carry pressure beyond a certain point. But we will bring the pressure to the greatest degree, we can within a realistic framework. I will have to give the Turks some idea of your position.

Mavros: Will you try with the zonal idea?

The Secretary: I will try but my judgment is they won’t accept. I don’t think they can accept less than their offer before the military move.

Karyiannis: I am speaking of your relations with Greece. They can’t be repaired unless you can get a situation better than was offered in Geneva.

The Secretary: I think that basic assumption is ridiculous. Why should we have to repair a situation that was started by the Greek Government? I don’t accept the proposition we have done anything against Greece. I understand domestic reasons for your anti-Americanism. We too want you to succeed in the elections.

Mavros: I would like to put aside Cyprus. What about the continental shelf, air space and minorities?

The Secretary: We will not permit another military move on these issues—unless Greece opposes us, and then we would not support such a move. I have not studied the question of the continental shelf, but we are prepared to make a major effort and to try to understand the position of both sides. I must talk to Ecevit. I have not studied these other questions yet. Basically, concessions must be made by Turkey. We are prepared to use pressure up to the point of not ruining our position with Turkey. We have already used pressure in preventing a Turkish action against Larnaca. Makarios can come and propose cantonal arrangements. If he had made a realistic proposal we might have been helpful, but Makarios asked for the 1960 Constitution.

For four years the Arabs beat us to death with demands. When Sadat and I sat down his first scheme was impossible but we finally got the Israelis back farther than we thought we could. But there is a point beyond our efforts cannot succeed. My view is the following: The best way to proceed is I get what I can in Ankara and we use this to get a joint declaration of principles between Denktash and Clerides. After the elections we try to solve all the problems together.

Mavros: For us when you get to Ankara we could say it was a useful initiative and we could welcome it. But we don’t want that to be used as proof that we agree that military aid to an aggressor should be continued.

The Secretary: You have to look at our position. (1) We want Turkey in the Alliance too. (2) We want to prevent a Qadhafi-type regime. (3) We want to keep the Turks from lining up with the radical Arabs.

[Page 513]

If we cut aid, the Turks will not be able to make concessions. If the Turks make a concession, what should I offer to restore military aid? If we restore and they will have what they want and they will not give another concession. I have sent an emissary to explain to the Turks the legal position on aid. It is more effective this way than by cutting off aid. I want to keep the Turks worried, but not cut it off. There is a danger that if aid to Turkey is cut, one way or the other it will be cut off to Greece. Suppose aid to Turkey is cut off? That can mean no new aid but there are two years of aid, $180 million in the pipeline. Then you can turn to the pipeline, but at that time the President would turn against Greece. I do not expect you to back aid to Turkey. I do not care about military aid one way or the other. I only look at it for what it can do to help solve problems. The Turkish position on Cyprus does not depend on it. If I go to Ankara and aid is cut what do I tell Ecevit?

Mavros: Tell him to end the Turkish stay on the island.

The Secretary: I agree. We want to get the Turks off the island though there may eventually be Greek and Turkish contingents.

I will make a flat prediction: when we cut military aid to Turkey the Soviet Union will move toward Turkey. I can show you our intelligence report. It was the Soviet Union that urged Turkey to invade Cyprus. We opposed it. I would ask you to read The New York Times editorials in early July. They were inciting the Turks to attack. No American officials dealt with Sampson. But I felt if we made a public statement Turkey would have an excuse to attack the island. From the first day of the coup the Turks intended to go in. There was no government in Greece with international standing, nor was there a legitimate government in Cyprus. This is a reality. The newspapers said I was pro- Sampson. Sisco went out to prevent the Turks from attacking.

Sisco: When I got to Greece I found the regime unrealistic. Ecevit had told me the situation was intolerable.

The Secretary: He was supposed to get concessions from Ioannides, and take them to Ankara to stop the invasion. But they gave nothing worthwhile. On the day before the invasion I called Callaghan and told him I expected an invasion. He did not think there would be one. I called Sauvagnargues. I shared my opinion that there would be an invasion, but said that public opinion in his country was against doing anything for Greece. On the Sunday after the invasion the senior officers in the Department wanted to throw Greece out of NATO but I prevented such action. Nevertheless there was a news article that the U.S. would cut aid to Greece.

Sisco: There is no doubt in Greece about who started events in Cyprus.

Mavros: Yes, but then there was August.

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The Secretary: Mr. Tzounis was going to come to Washington. Could he and Sisco get together tomorrow with Eagleton; and you and I can get together after I see Gunes. We can discuss the general idea of where things might go. We can meet at your suite in the Plaza after by dinner at 10:30 or 11:00 p.m.4

Mavros: I agree. I am leaving Tuesday for Washington.

Tzounis: Tomorrow I can meet with Sisco to discuss all the problems between Greece and Turkey.

The Secretary: That would be useful and Hartman could be there too.

I wish you to know that I consider Greece a natural friend of the U.S. with ties of strategic importance. On the other hand, I consider the Turks important too. They are more unpredictable than Greece. I do not want to drive Turkey in a direction unfavorable to all of us. I want to establish relations of confidence with you. I want to come to an understanding. If I go to Ankara we could announce the trip on the 10th and say I am going to explore things and that I am not going to Athens because the first problem is to see what there is in Ankara. But I could send Sisco to Athens. I will try to get some concrete gestures, then Denktash and Clerides can agree on some principles. That will get us to your elections. After that we will use influence to bring about a comprehensive settlement but you can not make demands on us that cause problems with the public.

Mavros: Tzounis could meet with Sisco here and later in Washington.

Sisco: We could meet tomorrow in my suite at 11 o’clock.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 343, Memoranda of Conversations, External. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Eagleton on September 30. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s suite at the Waldorf Towers.
  2. See Document 24.
  3. An apparent reference to telegram 213247 to Ankara, September 27. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1974, P850104–1798)
  4. Kissinger met Mavros at 10:40 p.m. on September 30. (Memorandum of Conversation; ibid., Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–1977, Entry 5403, Box 21, Classified External Memoranda of Conversations, May–November 1974)