74. Telegram From the Embassy in Cyprus to the Department of State1

575. Subject: Adjournment of Intercommunal Talks. Ref: Nicosia 558.2

Summary: Osorio is working on a formula to provide basis for resumption of talks. Both he and Turkish Ambassador relatively confident that talks will be resumed after GoCyprus maximizes its propaganda advantage. If USG approached by GOCyprus, we suggest Dept make sympathetic noises but downplay importance of crisis by gently reminding GOCyprus of flimsiness of present pretext for stalling talks. End Summary.

Osorio has given us description of April 3 intercommunal session which makes it clear that Clerides went into session with intent to sandbag it. He pointblank asked Denktash whether he could disavow GOT position on federalism. Denktash tried to waffle in terms he used with press on Tuesday (reftel),3 saying he did not object to term unitary so long as this meant system similar to that established under 1960 agreements (e.g. bicommunal state). Clerides demanded explicit answer, despite Osorio intervention that Denktash could hardly be asked to disavow Turkish Prime Minister. During meeting, Osorio started trying to draft an agreed statement of basis on which talks were being conducted, avoiding controversial terms. Meeting wound up in unusual situation of four (including Dekleris) against Clerides. Only small solace from this exchange, according to both Osorio and Turkish Ambassador, was that Clerides was willing to use term “bicommunal” in describing nature of agreement sought; this of course is term dear to Turkish hearts. (Note difference this account from Greek version Athens 2034).4
Osorio and Turkish Ambassador both considered Clerides’ action a negotiating tactic rather than deliberate effort to end talks. (Turkish Ambassador admitted privately that both sides had been staking out tough positions in recent negotiations and that elaborate treatment of recent Denktash visit to Ankara was a part of this game.) Osorio, however, was concerned that talks if suspended too long might be difficult to resume. He is also, he said, profoundly disturbed by sharply tougher attitude with which Dekleris returned from his most recent visit to Athens. Osorio noted that both experts had seemed to have patents from home capitals to make serious effort at solution; he now feared Athens had changed that signal. (He asked particular protection on this estimate.)
Osorio thinks best way to get talks going again is for Waldheim or preferably Osorio to keep working at text of a statement which he can issue, reporting both sides’ concurrence, describing purpose of talks and hopefully avoiding inflammatory words. He has talked to Denktash since meeting, believes Denktash will go along with this procedure, and even permit Osorio to give press his own gloss as to what the statement means which would permit him to say things Denktash could not explicitly approve. Osorio tried same idea on Makarios, who made anticipated rumbling sounds, indicated he thought it necessary for Turks explicitly to disavow federalism, but carefully avoided making this into an absolute demand. (Foreign Minister yesterday made considerable point to me of the argument that if the Turks pointed out that federalism was simply a dream but not necessarily obtainable, this would match Makarios’ “feasible” policy on enosis, and would provide adequate justification to continue talks.) Osorio notes that GOCyprus is really on fairly weak ground, if it breaks up negotiations on basis of statements which were made in Ankara but never repeated in the talks themselves. He is operating on assumption that Makarios will go along when GOCyprus has extracted enough political capital from this issue. Osorio admits that GOCyprus might demand that its feelings be assuaged by a statement from the UNSYG, but if possible he thinks problem could be managed better if Osorio could do it. (Note: we agree.)
Comment: We are being treated to some Chinese opera. If GOCyprus comes into Dept for support, we recommend that Dept make appropriate sympathetic noises, but then downplay crisis by pointing to conciliatory noises by Denktash, to fact that statements made in Ankara hardly constitute grounds for suspending the talks in Nicosia. We should also express hope that Osorio can develop a formula which will reassure all parties that there has been no substantial change in the basis on which the talks are proceeding. On such a basis, we believe all parties’ interests would be served by returning to table.
The issue of real concern in Nicosia is not this mini crisis, but rather what Athens is up to (septel).5 Osorio points out, and we agree, that Makarios has little interest in successful conclusion of the talks, at best, and with present uncertainties as to whether Athens would launch a propaganda attack on him if the talks were successful, he is even less likely to feel much interest in proceding very fast. In short, he probably has an interest in seeing the talks continue, but not in seeing them succeed immediately. End comment.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1974. Confidential; Priority. Repeated to Ankara, Athens, London, US NATO, USUN, USDOCOSOUTH, and USEUCOM.
  2. Telegram 558 from Nicosia, April 3, reported the adjournment sine die of the intercommunal talks. Cyprus formally démarched the UN Secretary General protesting Turkey’s “federal” position, but Clerides did not view the suspension as permanent.” (Ibid.)
  3. Telegram 558 also reported that on April 2 Denktash downplayed the “federal” issue and claimed that Ecevit’s remarks on federalism had been misinterpreted. (Ibid.)
  4. Telegram 2034 from Athens, April 2, reported a Greek view that the Turks had altered the basic position of the two sides agreed to at the inception of the intercommunal talks in 1968. (Ibid.)
  5. In telegram 576 from Nicosia, April 5, the Embassy reported Cypriot uneasiness at Greece’s larger motives regarding Cyprus. Speculation ranged from Athens hoping to keep the Cyprus situation “in the air,” to hoping to control Makarios or hinder intercommunal talks. “GOC remarked that it was difficult to determine who actually ran GOG.” (Ibid.)