27. Telegram From the Embassy in Greece to the Department of State 1

7908. Subject: Return of Makarios to Cyprus: Attitude of Greek Government. Ref: State 240013 (Tosec 445).2

Caramanlis and the Greek Government at the moment view Makarios, as they view almost everything else, in the light of the coming Greek elections on November 17. Thus far in the Greek electoral campaign Cyprus has been a national rather than an electoral issue. Because Greece’s options are so limited, it has been difficult if not impossible for candidates opposing Caramanlis to argue plausibly that if elected they would handle the issue better than he has. Caramanlis himself has adopted a cautious and, in our view, realistic strategy, emphasizing that the Cyprus crisis was triggered by the colonels whose shortsightedness was exploited by the Turks to move toward their longstanding objective of partition. He has been careful not to indicate publicly what he would regard to be an acceptable Cyprus settlement or how the Greek Cypriot leaders should compose their differences either with the Turks or among themselves.
To be effective this strategy requires Caramanlis to give quiet support to Clerides while avoiding an open break with Makarios with whom Caramanlis has a long history of troubled relations. Caramanlis realizes that Makarios has it in his power to convert Cyprus into a Greek political issue simply by stating publicly that the Caramanlis government is not doing enough to defend Greek Cypriot interests. Andreas Papandreou in particular would seize a statement of this kind and use it against Caramanlis in the campaign. Of all the leading candidates in the Greek election, Papandreou has been the most outspoken, calling for the early return of Makarios to Cyprus. He and the Archbishop cooperated in the past, notably in 1964, when their combined efforts sabotaged the Acheson plan. Their views on foreign policy would appear to be very similar, favoring non-alignment with an anti-Western bias.
Papandreou’s evident desire to turn the Cyprus issue against Caramanlis has thus far been frustrated by the reticence of Makarios. [Page 105] Little as he may like Caramanlis, the Archbishop is doubtless inhibited from openly criticizing the Prime Minister by the knowledge that Caramanlis is likely to emerge from the elections with a strong parliamentary majority. Makarios cannot, therefore, afford to antagonize him at this stage. The result has been an uneasy truce which neither Caramanlis nor the Archbishop has any reason to disturb for the time being.
We conclude from the foregoing that Caramanlis will continue to handle the Archbishop in a gingerly way before the elections, that his leverage after the elections will increase in direct proportion to the margin of his success, but that in the future as in the past he will use his influence discreetly and stop well short of the point where he would risk an open break with the Archbishop. Caramanlis might be willing to suggest to Makarios before November 17th that the Archbishop postpone his return to the island, but it is most unlikely that he would be willing to make a real issue of it.
  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Country Files for Middle East and South Asia, 1974–1977, Box 11, Greece, Nodis to Secretary of State 4. Secret; Immediate;Nodis. Sent with a request to pass to other posts as desired.
  2. Telegram 240013 to Islamabad, Kabul, Ankara, and additional posts, November 1, is about the return of Makarios to Cyprus. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1974)