178. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • US
  • Cyprus
  • The Secretary
  • Mr. Glafcos Clerides
  • Under Secretary Sisco
  • Foreign Minister Christophides
  • Ambassador Buffum
  • Ambassador Nicos Dimitriou
  • Deputy Assistant Secretary Laingen
  • Mr. Angelides
  • Mr. William Eagleton (Notetaker)

(This portion of the conversation was preceded by a meeting between the Secretary and Clerides, with Ambassador Macomber present during part of that meeting.)2

Clerides: This is not the Ambassador in New York (pointing to Dimitriou and referring to Rossides).

Christophides: I asked Rossides why he had written the letter to The New York Times regarding Turkish aid. His reply was that he was not accredited to Washington.

Secretary: If he had been accredited to Washington he would have been out of the country by now.

Sisco: We have already discussed this matter with Mr. Clerides.

Christophides: I understand the point perfectly.

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Secretary: Well, we have settled everything. It is alright as long as you realize that every crisis occurs in Joe Sisco’s area. We tried to take Cyprus out of his area but were too late.

Secretary: When I was in Syria, Asad said we had arranged the coup against Makarios in Cyprus so as to have a NATO base from which to attack Syria. Now he asks why we are helping Makarios since we will not get a base that way.

I have told Mr. Clerides that I believe what was started in Brussels could have led to a solution. It would have been slow since the Turks hardly have a government. In my contact with the Greek side I found a willingness to make progress. We could then have put pressure on the Turks. However, the Congressional action has produced a tragedy. The first victims are the Greek Cypriots and Greeks. I don’t think a solution can be put together except by the U.S. using its influence with Turkey. The Turkish Government is weak but we can work on DEMIREL and Ecevit. The Greeks must decide whether they want progress. If the aid cut continues the Turks will continue to take steps which will make it difficult for the U.S. to play a role. It is a case wherein action produces the opposite effect.

Mr. Clerides and I talked about what to do—talks could be moved to another city or they could be enlarged. I have doubts that the Turks will accept enlargement. What do you think Joe?

Sisco: Yes, enlargement would lead to an impasse.

Secretary: I understand that you need something new to get the talks going again.

Christophides: Above all we want effective progress.

Secretary: There is only one way. That is for the Greek Government, the Cyprus Government and ourselves to agree and then I sell the agreement in Ankara. What do you think Joe?

Sisco: I agree.

Secretary: You see I have the Under Secretary’s support. Mr. Clerides, you will read that the Department is completely terrorized, but look at this.

Sisco: Don’t worry, he holds his own.

Christophides: Yes, I have seen that in his talks with me this morning. There is one point—the question of cutting the aid is not in the hands of Greece and Cyprus but in that of Congress. If Congress does not reverse the cut you say you will have no leverage. Therefore, should we not find another way?

Secretary: There is no other way. If you bring in the Soviets we will oppose it. When I was in Europe the Europeans asked whether they should become involved.

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I told them that if they could find a way to be helpful we would support them. I don’t know what leverage they would have in Ankara.

Clerides: I go along with what you say. Only the U.S. can guide the Turks. It is necessary to regain that leverage. The help you need would be to say that the Turks will do something if Congress removes the cutoff. But it is extremely difficult for us to go to our friends in Congress or make statements until there is something positive. Where you have failed to persuade them I would have no chances either.

Secretary: They got off to a wrong start last summer in the wake of Watergate. They did not understand our strategy which was very similar to yours. The problem now is to get results. This is the first test of political action by the American/Greek community and they do not know how to handle it.

If we can remove the aid cut, then we get the British, French and Germans to support us on the plan that we agree on. Then we can go to Ankara.

And on my trip to the Middle East I will talk to Ecevit.

If you turn to Guyana it will be pure eye wash and no progress.

You, CARAMANLIS, along with Makarios and I, should agree on a program.

One good thing about the cutoff is that both sides now seem to be worried about a freezing of the situation, although I don’t really know about Turkey since we have not had substantive contacts with them since February 5.

Buffum: One kind of expansion of the talks would be a greater role for Weckmann plus observers from Greece and Turkey.

Clerides: In the past when we have brought others into the talks, for instance on the constitutional issue, things have become more complicated.

Secretary: Suppose—this is just a personal idea—two neutrals, one chosen by Greece and one by Turkey—act as advisers to Weckmann. Do you think the Turks would agree?

Buffum: Waldheim is thinking of three nonaligned representatives as advisers to him.

Secretary: Will the Turks accept?

Sisco: I don’t think so but I would think that if each country designated one adviser it would be less objectionable to them. We are trying to meet the problem and get a consensus of the UN. You will need agreement of the Turks for any negotiations to be effective.

Secretary: If this goes on for another month it will be completely out of control and the Cypriots will be the losers.

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Clerides: Suppose we concede that talks continue, then will the Turks be willing to accept an enlargement of the peacekeeping forces and the return of some refugees?

Secretary: My instinct is that the Turks will agree to nothing while aid is cut off.

Sisco: There is that and also the problem of getting unilateral concessions from them.

Secretary: We would explore the return of some but how many refugees are you referring to?

Clerides: The first problem is 9,000 Greeks who are still in the north and are being badly treated. If the Turks could withdraw, and these Greek villages were placed under UN control, that would ease the situation. Then if some refugees could be let back to Famagusta.

Secretary: We have tried that many times before without success.

Christophides: And that was before the aid cutoff.

Secretary: Yes, the aid cut was hanging over us. The aid cut was a tragedy. Negotiations always begin slowly. I believe we had better than a 50–50 chance.

Sisco: Yes, there was a good possibility in November.

Dimitriou: But then there was the problem of the fall of the Turkish Government.

Secretary: We can explore with the Turks what we can get from them if the aid cut is removed but I don’t believe these things made any difference. What is worthwhile is a rapid conclusion. We ought to reach an understanding—Clerides, Makarios, Caramanlis and I. I will take this understanding to Ankara where I can sell it. Otherwise we will be in for a long guerrilla war.

Esenbel will dig himself into a foxhole. I would have a better chance than Esenbel to sell the plan to Ecevit, DEMIREL and Sancar.

I have now come to the opposite conclusion from what I had believed previously. I had thought in December that proposals then could lead gradually to a solution.

It seems difficult for the Turks to decide even on some small concessions now. If we three can agree on a package I can take it to Ankara and sell it. If I have to get concessions from the Turks first and negotiate it with Brademas it will lead to an endless nightmare.

An expanded forum may allow you to return to the talks. However, if aid is resumed it won’t be important to go to the talks immediately.

Clerides: That is why it is necessary to get from the Security Council the right impression that a forum has been created, and meanwhile we can work on the package.

Secretary: Where are you going now?

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Clerides: Back to New York and we will stay until the end of the Security Council session.3 We could stay several days later.

Secretary: We will support a reasonable solution at the UN. We can explore it with the Turks. I am going to the Middle East in March. If we can get aid lifted I can go to Ankara. I can meet first with you and Bitsios. If we don’t lift the cutoff I fear the Turks will make it impossible for me to go.

Dimitriou: Do you think you can get the Turks to hold in abeyance implementation of the Turkish Cypriot state?

Secretary: I don’t think I can get anything from the Turks right now.

Christophides: Will you be able to go to Ankara before the end of the cutoff?

Secretary: Esenbel says he won’t see me before resumption of aid. I told Congress I wanted the threat of a cutoff—and that would have been useful—but not the cutoff itself.

Dimitriou: If you have a meeting with the Greeks and Cypriots that would help in lifting the cutoff. It might be a question of prestige for Congress.

Secretary: But that would delay progress. The President is determined to fight this issue on the basis of executive authority. I leave on March 6 and while I am gone the whole matter will be delayed.

Clerides: There is one possibility. If the Secretary meets with the Greeks and Cypriots and reaches a common line to take to the Turks, this movement would help lift the ban and then he could go to Turkey.

Secretary: That is alright with me. Perhaps Clerides could meet me in London. I will be there on the 7th.

There could be problems in London but that might be the most practical place.

  1. Source: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box CL 273, Memoranda of Conversations, Chronological File. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by Eagleton and approved in S on May 11. The meeting was held in the Secretary’s office.
  2. No record of this portion of the conversation has been found.
  3. The Security Council met in February and March and adopted without vote Resolution Yearbook of the United Nations,, pp. 297–298)