79. Memorandum From Rosemary Niehuss of the National Security Council Staff to Secretary of State Kissinger 1


  • Cyprus Coup by Greek-Officered National Guard and Death of Makarios

According to late reports from embassy Nicosia:2

  • —The Greek-officered National Guard on Cyprus has taken over the government and Archbishop Makarios is reported dead.
  • —All reports coming from the National Guard forces have stressed that this affair is purely internal to Cyprus and within the Greek community and have urged calm. Among the reports of sporadic firing associated with the coup are none which yet allege any serious incidents involving Turk Cypriots.
  • —A “Government of National Salvation” has been announced, based on the following:
  • —The new government has been created “to restore spiritual unity of Greek Cypriots, restore harmony in the Church of Cyprus and prevent Armed Forces from falling into the hards of ‘anarchy and criminal elements’.” Those responsible for the latter have been removed.
  • —The new government will continue the intercommunal talks.
  • —The foreign policy of Cyprus will remain unchanged, in particular non-aligned aspects.
  • —Thus far, the reaction of the Turk Cypriot community has been a plea for calm by its leader Denktash and a call for UN intervention.

This situation is the “dynamic” solution to Athens concern about Makarios that junta leader Ioannides, according to reliable intelligence, has been speculating on in recent weeks. Makarios’ efforts to remove the Greek-officered National Guard, Athens main instrument of influence on the island, provoked this turn of events.

The intelligence community is closely monitoring for reports of Turkish and Soviet political and military reactions. As of this writing, neither Ankara nor Athens has made any official statement about the coup.

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There are two possibilities on the Turkish side: (a) If any fighting associated with the coup begins to spill over into the Turk Cypriot community and seriously threatens it, Turkey may move to fulfill its promise of immediate military assistance and all the implications that such a move would have for a broader Turkish-Greek confrontation. (b) If the Turk Cypriot community remains relatively unaffected and its needs met by the new government, Ankara may well acquiesce in these developments. In that regard, it is worth noting that the coup leaders have said all the right things about the coup—that it is internal to Cyprus, that the new government promises a continuation of the inter-communal talks (and not enosis which would draw Turkey in) and that foreign policy will remain unchanged.

The Soviets will be attentive to these developments. They have been a staunch supporter of Makarios—under whom a strong local communist party has developed in the last decade—and, according to reliable reports, have been concerned about tensions brewing between Athens and Nicosia and the prospect that Athens might move against Makarios. They do not want Cyprus NATOized.

We will discuss our options at a WSAG meeting this morning.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 592, Country Files, Middle East, Cyprus, Vol. II. Secret. Sent for information. Kissinger discussed the Cyprus crisis in the third volume of his memoirs, Years of Renewal (Simon and Schuster, 1999), pp. 192–238.
  2. Telegrams 1339, 1340, and 1344, July 15. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy Files, 1974)