177. Telegram From the Embassy in Greece to the Department of State 1
Athens, February 17, 1975, 0945Z.
1306. Subject: Possible New Initiative by the Secretary on Cyprus. Department please pass this highly sensitive message “personal for the Secretary from Kubisch.”
- Over the weekend I have had very private discussions—separately—with three of the four ministers who together with CARAMANLIS make up the real inner power structure of the Greek Government: Defense Minister Averoff, Economic Coordination Minister Papaligouras and Foreign Minister Bitsios. (The fourth, George Rallis, who is Minister to the Prime Minister, works primarily on internal political and press matters.)
- I get the strong impression that with the exception of Bitsios, who has made almost a diplomatic and writing career out of Cyprus, CARAMANLIS and his inner circle want very much to have done with the Cyprus problem. They simply have too many other major problems to address and solve in Greece. The “Priest,” as they call Makarios, gives them a pain; and somehow a more stable and tranquil modus vivendi with Turkey must be found to give them the breathing space they need to proceed with the internal rehabilitation this country still requires.
- Bitsios, on the other hand, still seems mesmerized by the Cyprus problem and appears still to be advocating the kind of rear-guard holding action on Cyprus and the too-little too-late piecemeal concessions to the Turks that have characterized Greek policy for years with such dismal results.
- In any case, it has been suggested to me that you consider making a new and major move now to break the deadlock on a Cyprus settlement. Averoff (his name must protected in this) told me that he is confident that Greece will accept a bi-zonal federated system on Cyprus if the Turks will reduce their zone to 25 percent of the island (which would still comprise approximately 35 percent of the economic activity and resources on Cyprus). He also told me that he had information from a reliable Turkish informant that Turkey was prepared to reduce to 25 percent in exchange for a Greek acceptance and international endorsement of the two-zone arrangement. As for Makarios, Averoff said he would resist mightily but that Greece could “make” him go along.
- The specific suggestion is as follows: you send a very private personal message to the GOT saying you are prepared to try and get the Greeks to accept the bi-zonal system but you need to hold out a really major Turk concession to them in order to have any chance of success. You suggest that the Turks agree to draw back to 22 percent of the island, which is still more than their population ratio, and you would be prepared to give it a try, the Turks will say no, counter with
- I am not recommending that you do this at this stage, but I do believe it deserves your careful consideration. There are obvious pitfalls: if you try and fail, it will surely leak, and the “Kissinger Plan” to sacrifice Cyprus for NATO bases, Congressional strategy or whatever, will be denounced on all sides. At the same time, if you succeed, many Greeks and Greek supporters will attack you for selling out Cyprus and the Greek Cypriots for the sake of some nefarious scheme or strategy of yours. Still, if it works, it could help greatly in repairing our relationship with Turkey, get Congressional restrictions lifted, allow Greece to attend to its internal problems, preserve the main bonds of the alliance flank, and soothe a major world trouble spot—all without the intrusion of undesirable third parties.
- Perhaps you can feel your way into this somewhat tentatively with the Turks, and if it leads to something worthwhile and specific, then send me in to see CARAMANLIS directly and privately—bypassing Bitsios. Bitsios would not like it, and you and I would both pay a price with him for doing it, but it may be the only way. It would not have to be billed as a “Kissinger proposal” but simply as one more effort on your part to try and assist two allies to get together.
- One final note of caution: you have no doubt seen [less than 1 line not declassified] reports—and my comments thereon—about coup plotting in Greece, possibly involving Averoff. While I continue to believe these reports should be substantially discounted, they cannot be dismissed altogether. Averoff, in his Defense Ministry post, is in a key [Page 600] position. I have no reason to doubt his solidarity with and loyalty to CARAMANLIS, but one can never be sure. He may be playing his own game and trying to pave the way both for a Cyprus settlement and our support in the event he decides to ally himself with others. This is one more reason to feel your way carefully into the terrain indicated above, should you decide to go ahead.
- Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Middle East and South Asia, Box 11, Greece, Nodis to Secretary of State 8. Secret; Nodis; Cherokee.↩