24. Telegram From the Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to the Departments of State and Defense 1

4875. Subject: Cyprus: Informal Meeting of the Thirteen on the Karamanlis Letter. Refs: (A) USNATO 4844; (B) USNATO 4845; (C) State 198059.2

As reported in Refs A and B, Secretary General Luns convened an informal meeting of the thirteen PermReps (minus Greece and Turkey) at 4:00 p.m. September 10 to discuss a response to the Karamanlis letter. Luns said that although it was up to each government to respond individually, he thought it useful to have a discussion so that the views of PermReps could be exchanged.
He called initially on U.K. Ambassador Peck who essentially repeated points in British text provided in Ref A.3
In general, most PermReps favored British approach, in essence a low-key reply of an unprovocative nature. De Staercke (Belgium) described the informal meeting of the thirteen as a way to develop a basket of ideas from which various allies could draw in their responses. He strongly supported the outline provided by Ambassador Peck. Hartogh (Netherlands), Busch (Norway), Menzies (Canada), Svart (Denmark) and Boss (Germany) endorsed the general British approach. All indicated their governments felt that a reply to the Karamanlis letter was required. De Staercke was particularly emphatic about the obligation to respond.
Rumsfeld, drawing on Ref C, said Washington questioned whether a written response to the Karamanlis letter was required at this time, but that in any event Washington was interested in having the views of the other allies. Rumsfeld said that if Washington decided to reply, he personally felt that it could be much along the lines advocated by the allies. If and when a response is made, it could be short [Page 95] and unprovocative, essentially indicating that the letter had been received, that the subject was important, and that we wished to consult with our allies on its implications. Rumsfeld emphasized the U.S., while questioning the need for a written reply now, was not advocating that no response whatsoever be made.
Catalano (Italy) noted the particular importance of the Greek matter to Italy because of Italy’s geographic location. In addition to supporting a response to the Karamanlis letter, he felt it was necessary to conduct studies within the alliance to examine the implications of a Greek withdrawal and also to determine what needs to be done to close the security gap which would be created by Greece’s withdrawal. Luns indicated that a study of this matter was under way. He presumably had in mind the work being done by the international staff.
Ambassador De Rose (France) appreciated being invited to the meeting and was there because France had also received the Karamanlis letter and they were interested in hearing the views of the other allies. However, they were, for obvious reasons, in no position to give their views on how the French would reply to the letter or to suggest to other allies how they should reply.
The Secretary General indicated he would be meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Mavros at 6:00 p.m. tomorrow (September 11). He would see him again at a dinner the following day along with Ambassador De Staercke. Luns said he intends to dispel any impressions Mavros may have that NATO failed to call a Foreign Ministers meeting based upon a Greek request. He also said that he would emphasize to Mavros that the Government of Greece had signed a contract when it joined the alliance and that it could not unilaterally decide under what conditions it would withdraw. Luns will also emphasize to him the implications of Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, indicating that once Greece withdraws from the military side of NATO, military assistance would not be automatic.
Comment: It is obvious that the other allies intend to respond in the near future to the Karamanlis letter along the lines suggested by the British. Mission recommends that in light of these allied intentions Washington give early consideration to the position it wishes to adopt concerning a response to the Karamanlis letter. U.S. failure to respond to the letter while all of our other allies do so might be misinterpreted and could be prejudicial to improving our relations with the Government of Greece.
  1. Source: Department of State, RG 84, Athens Embassy Files: Lot 96 F 335, Box 1, DEF 4–6 1974, Greek Withdrawal. Secret; Immediate; Limdis. Repeated Priority to all NATO capitals, the Mission in Geneva, USUN, Nicosia, USNMR SHAPE, USCINCEUR, and USDOCOSOUTH.
  2. Telegrams 4844 and 4845, both from USNATO, September 9, and telegram 198059 to USNATO, September 10, are ibid.
  3. As reported in telegram 4844, the British Government preferred a short and unprovocative reply that merely acknowledged Karamanlis’ message, assured him of the mutual value of Greece’s membership in NATO, and expressed hope that the present strain would not unduly damage the alliance or joint efforts to improve East-West relations.