174. Minutes of Secretary of State Kissinger’s Staff Meeting1

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Cyprus.]

Secretary Kissinger: Joe?

Mr. Sisco: What would you like to have me tell the Cypriot Ambassador this morning? He’s coming in at 10:30.2

Secretary Kissinger: From now on he’ll be seen by the Country Director!

No—seriously. Wayne Hays has been telling me he’s been throwing him out of his office because he was up there.

Mr. Sisco: Recently?

Secretary Kissinger: Within the last week.

Mr. Sisco: Because he insists that he’s being very, very circumspect.

Secretary Kissinger: Wayne Hays said he threw him out of his office when he was simply threatening him. Do you believe that?

Mr. Jenkins: He’s capable of exaggerating.

Secretary Kissinger: What?

Mr. Jenkins: He’s capable of exaggerating.

Mr. Hartman: Dimitriou couldn’t threaten anybody. He’s so mild you hardly know what he’s talking about.

Mr. Sisco: Well, Bob and I talked about this. I think that we should take the posture with him that the situation is not at an impasse and that if—

Secretary Kissinger: Well, is it at an impasse?

Mr. Sisco: —and if they’re going to put anything forward, they ought to put it forward seriously.

Mr. Hartman: No. If they are going to put their proposal down, they shouldn’t go around to announce it to the world and deposit it at the Security Council.3 They ought to put it on the table.

[Page 593]

Secretary Kissinger: No. Makarios has absolutely no intention of being capable. We’re beating the Turks over the head before we have received a proposal. It’s to reject something, the contents of which we don’t even know.

I mean, our unlimited busy-bodies—

Mr. Hartman: No. But we have an interest in keeping them.

Secretary Kissinger: We have an interest. Let Nature take its course now. Besides, Makarios pays no attention to Dimitriou—or whatever his name is. But what are we going to say to Esenbel. If Makarios had wanted to be reasonable, he would have pushed.

I think there’s something undignified about the United States pleading with all these maniacs to be reasonable when we have absolutely nothing to gain from it, and when a pressure group—an ethnic pressure group—is pushing this country in a direction that is totally against its interests.

Mr. Hartman: But I think that’s a separable issue.

Secretary Kissinger: It’s not a separable issue if, after that, we go around crying all over the place, saying: “Please be reasonable.” They’ve been unreasonable all along. We’re not going to plead with anybody any more. We’re going to say, “You’ve made this mess. See what happens?”

Mr. Hartman: They got the communal talks started. I think they want to keep that in play.

Secretary Kissinger: I just don’t want us to go plead. I do not want the United States to be in a position where we give the impression that these talks are more important to us than they are to the parties.

Mr. Hartman: All along—

Secretary Kissinger: Let them go to an international conference. What the hell is going to happen at an international conference? But I don’t know why we should get blackmailed by people committing— if they want the Island partitioned, if they want to maneuver in a way that partitions the Island, that’s their problem. We are prepared to assist, and that’s it. And we’re not going to beg these guys, and I want to have a tough and aloof line.

Mr. Hartman: It’s more likely not to be just an international conference but the talks will break down. There will be movement by the Turks somewhere along the line, and then it will be in the Security Council.

Secretary Kissinger: And then it will be in the Security Council; and then we will disengage, step by step. As it internationalizes, we will become another international party and we will keep in exact step with the Security Council.

Why is that so much against the national interest?

[Page 594]

Mr. Sisco: I think it’s contrary to the American interest because I think, (a), the Soviets get the maximum opportunity; and, secondly, it’s going to contribute to the process of deterioration in Ankara and Athens even more rapidly than we fear.

Secretary Kissinger: That’s what I had predicted all along, but we are not going to stop that now by our running around—you know, I approved the cable;4 so I can’t complain. But when I thought about it, I thought it was a rather unworthy cable to send.

Mr. Hartman: It’s not pleading. It’s saying: “You’ve got something in place. Keep it there.”

Secretary Kissinger: If they see that, do they need a lecture from us?

Mr. Hartman: But up to now they have not acted in a very bright fashion.

Secretary Kissinger: The Secretary of State will be begging, pleading, maneuvering, working harder than they for six weeks; and they frivolously blew the thing up. Now we’re going to tell them—they were all set to have riots this week if this thing continued. They had riots while the talks were going on. They played with the Soviets while this thing was going on. And if they don’t want to do this, you tell them we’re willing to help.

It’s entirely up to him to decide—we believe the communal talks should continue. Whether they do or not is entirely up to him. But once they make irrevocable decisions, “Don’t come crying back to us with the”—

Mr. Sisco: That’s all right.

Mr. Hartman: That’s all right. In fact, that will have the effect of keeping control.

Secretary Kissinger: 15 minutes in, and then you can send him out.

Mr. Sisco: 10 minutes after he sees me! (Laughter.) Really—I’ve got three appointments. I’m serious.

Secretary Kissinger: Our cable is abject: “Please let us help you.”

Mr. Sisco: I think that’s an unfair characterization of the cable.

Secretary Kissinger: I approved it.

Mr. Sisco: I know you did.

Secretary Kissinger: For all we know, the Greeks are going to ask to go back to the August 8th line.

Mr. Hartman: We’re asking them to keep those talks going. We’re also trying to do something here. The last thing we want is for those talks to break down right now when there is, at least, still the possibility of turning the situation around.

[Page 595]

Secretary Kissinger: Then what we want and how we act is an entirely different proposition. We have gotten ourselves too involved in these talks, to begin with.

Mr. Hartman: Well, I don’t mind—I mean, what you’re saying I think will have this effect. It puts it the other way around and tells him that he’s got nothing from us—particularly, if these things do break down.

Secretary Kissinger: You tell him if he internationalizes it, we will be in exact step with the international community. We will be doing exactly what everyone else is doing. We’ll play no special role. If that’s what he wants, he can internationalize it. If he does, we are willing to help, but it’s entirely up to them. And we’re sick and tired of them playing around in our domestic politics.

I don’t want to hear that he is doing it and then his boys aren’t doing it. And if that doesn’t stop, we’ll withdraw.

If you have any hesitation to saying it, I’ll be glad to see him.

Mr. Hartman: He’d love to see you, by the way! (Laughter.)

Secretary Kissinger: That’s the posture we’re going to take with the Greeks, and Turks as well.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Cyprus.]

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Transcripts of Henry Kissinger’s Staff Meetings,
  2. See Document 175.
  3. Apparent reference to a series of letters in late January and early February, in which the Cypriot (Greek) representative to the UN leveled accusations against the British, the Turkish Cypriots, and the Turks. (Yearbook of the United Nations, 1975, pp. 274–275)
  4. Not further identified.