170. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Gerald R. Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Joseph J. Sisco, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs
  • Amb. William Crawford, U. S. Ambassador to Cyprus
  • Amb. Jack Kubisch, U. S. Ambassador to Greece
  • Amb. William B. Macomber, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to Turkey
  • Lt. General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs


  • Cyprus

Kissinger: Macomber tries to stay out of town so I don’t stick him with the Congressional Liaison job.

The President: You wore out a lot of shoe leather.

Macomber: I had two tours.

Kissinger: Mr. President, these people have been carrying a lot of the burden.

Let me sum up where we are. At Brussels,2 the outline of the talks was agreed to. At that time the question of guarantees was raised. I told you I called Esenbel and he agreed to start the talks tomorrow.3 He asked for one wrinkle—that everyone agree to submit the final results to a meeting of five powers—which is not the same as a guarantee.

For concessions, we will aim for the opening of the airport, the port of Famagusta, the withdrawal of some troops, and the return of some refugees. We won’t get all these, but with two or three we could move the Congress. We have to get a longer extension this time.

The President: If we get three or four of them, isn’t that substantial progress?

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Kissinger: This package would alleviate most of the conditions, but we can’t get it all in the few weeks available. We also hope to step up the pace of talks to three or four per week. The Greeks have given up most of their earlier demands. The major issues now are the extent of the Turkish area, the powers of the central government, and the refugees.

The President: Will other issues, like Law of the Sea in the Aegean, be thrown in?

Kissinger: The Greeks are willing, but it would complicate it.

Macomber: It could follow the Cyprus talks.

Kubisch: The situation in Greece has improved greatly, and the American position has improved from the bad position of last summer. Karamanlis has done a great job in the country. He understands the need for close U.S. ties and he supports it, but he can’t move fast publicly. He has the Greek side all held together for now, but he can’t hold them for long. He wants a quick settlement and is willing to concede much. He is willing to follow with talks on the Aegean, on overflights, and so on—and more to a real détente. We are on a good trend in Greece.

The President: How did Wayne Hays do?4

Kubisch: He talked Turkey, but they know he is a friend and he has credibility. He gave a press conference and did a great job.

Macomber: He was good in Turkey, too. The Turks want to be European and oriented toward us. They don’t work democracy very well. They had bad luck in the last election but Ecevit’s government was good. If there is an election, Ecevit will win big and the other parties don’t want that. The military are getting impatient. They will agree to elections at some point, but it will be a weak government until it is over.

The President: Will the military agree to a reasonable settlement?

Macomber: Yes. They are tough. They are incredulous that the United States could do what was done—but they are deeply grateful to you and Secretary Kissinger.

The President: It was really tough last October and in December. We had this Demetracopolous who really incited the Greek community here.

Macomber: Their problem is they see this little island so close to their shores, with their countrymen being screwed for such a long time by nine million Greeks far away. They like Karamanlis but they are determined it won’t happen again. They are very offended that the United [Page 579] States turned on them. If it wasn’t for you two, Turkey would be down the drain.

Kissinger: We will pay for this for years to come.

Macomber: If there is an aid cutoff, our influence will be almost zero. We have many installations there. With their fine Army and the Straits, they are really an asset.

The President: Do they control Denktash?

Macomber: Yes. But it is a weak caretaker government.

Crawford: Cyprus is a tragedy, from the paradise it used to be. It is now a divided island. There are only 12,000 Greeks in the Turkish zone and 18,000 Turks in the Greek zone. The Turks move into the big villages but there are no jobs. There is a political division and economic division now—which doesn’t make sense. Even the Turkish Cypriots say “Turkey didn’t come in to save us, but for their own purposes.” The Greek Cypriots are now becoming disillusioned with Greece. So both of them are disillusioned. Now there is a sort of a Cypriot nationality coming out of this. Denktash and Clerides are old friends and were raised together. But looking over Clerides’ shoulder is Makarios and Greece; over Denktash’s shoulder is the Turks. But still their relationship is the best possible for negotiations.

Kissinger: Karamanlis is playing Makarios skillfully. If Makarios blesses the agreement, he is off the hook; if Makarios rejects it, Karamanlis can say he tried and can stick Makarios with it. If the Turks could give up a little, they could get a lot. Makarios won’t stay quiet for long. He wants a stalemate so he can maneuver and get the Soviet Union in.

Macomber: I agree.

Kissinger: Few Greeks will go back to the Turkish zone.

Macomber: But the Greeks and Turks hate each other. They have trouble getting together.

The President: Henry and I have been talking this subject since my first day. Keep it moving and we will try to take care of the Congress. We need enough progress to get us over the hump, and Bill [Macomber],5 you can use my name to get the Turks to move.

Crawford: I hope we can get aid money for Cyprus, too.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 281, Memoranda of Conversations, Presidential File, January 1975. Secret; Nodis. The meeting was held in the Oval Office.
  2. See Documents 163168.
  3. A preview and an account of these talks are in a memorandum of conversation, January 7, 3:40 p.m. (National Archives, RG 59, Records of Henry Kissinger, 1973–1977, Entry 5403, Box 10, Nodis Memcons, January 1975) and telegram 77 from Nicosia, January Nodis to Secretary of State 7)
  4. Representative Wayne Hays (D–OH) led a congressional delegation to Turkey and Greece in late December and early January.
  5. Brackets are in the original.