89. Telegram From the Embassy in Greece to the Department of State1
Athens, July 16, 1974, 1800Z.
4530. Subject: Potential Aftermath of Coup.
- Makarios’ escape from assassination once again could represent a signal failure in the execution of the coup. Moreover, Cypriot radio announcement quickly following the coup that Makarios killed indicates this part of pre-established scenario. The carefully prepared Sampson statement of the strong anti-Communist “Movement of National Salvation” also undoubtedly part of same scenario. Failure to kill Makarios clearly complicates the consolidation of a new regime by Sampson backers.
- With Makarios now in a position of personal safety combined with British Foreign Office announcement it continues to recognize Makarios government, position of the rebels could become precarious. This is particularly likely if resistance on the island should continue. It seems difficult to believe that, with the expertise of the Greek Cypriot Communist Party, one of the best organized Communist parties anywhere, a very strong Communist-dominated trade union and an active Socialist party under strongly leftist Lysarrides, who had developed some sort of para-military forces of his own, armed resistance to Greek led Cypriot National Guard, will not continue. In circumstances, one could expect the USSR to seek to rush military supplies to those resisting, although island probably already possesses large supplies of arms clandestinely cached. USSR would then simply be responding to request of legitimate head of an independent government and UN member.
- If fighting should continue, it seems likely GOT would feel under increased pressure to augment its forces in Cyprus. They are legitimate under terms of London–Zurich agreements as one of three guarantor powers. In the event Turk Cypriots killed, injured or seriously threatened, pressure upon Turkey to act likely to be even greater.
- In latter event, hard to believe Ioannides would not feel he must augment Greek forces. Incidentally, if fighting is protracted or threatens to become so, Ioannides may try to augment Greek forces in any feasible way, e.g., even clandestine infiltration since the longer and [Page 301] more independent the resistance, the more disastrous the entire operation could become for Ioannides.
- Embassy believes there is reason to lay this operation at the door of KYP, Greek central intelligence organization. A clear failure by Ioannides, given Greek tendency to abandon leaders who fail, could seriously undermine Ioannides junta. Ioannides is likely to feel under pressure, and our contact with him today indicates his actions may reflect this nervous condition, so that he may move to ensure establishment of Sampson regime as soon as possible. Unless he succeeds he could well fall into great trouble with other members of military hierarchy, particularly since Ioannides now claims he did not keep them informed, assertion for which there is some supporting evidence.
- A final word about Sampson; a review of our biographic data and knowledge about this man confirms the impression we have had of him hitherto. His is an out and out gangster, a gorilla-type with no compunctions against murder and assassination. He may well be considered as potentially a pliable tool for Ioannides, but it seems more likely he would be a marked liability in most respects.
- The GOT may feel that in the final analysis it is better off dealing with a direct agent of Athens rather than both Athens and Makarios. This was Papadopoulos’ line, and GOT, recalling this, may feel a deal between the two military to settle Cyprus issue along with others between Greece and Turkey, may now be easier to realize. This is particularly true in light of strong public assurances GOG and Sampson group are putting out proclaiming their firm adherence to the principle of a united, sovereign and independent Cyprus, as well as their continued support for intercommunal talks to establish stabilized and viable relations between the two groups on the island.
- At same time it should have been clear to Turkish Government from initial stages of Athens/Nicosia quarrel that tolerance of Greek regime leaders had definite limits. Uncharacteristically relaxed attitude on Turkish side supports speculation that Greek/Turkish communication in private channel, probably military, may have provided reassurance essential to avoid escalating Turkish reaction. If true, Turkish military leaders with firsthand knowledge of intentions of Greek counterparts could constitute significant element in maintaining Ankara/Athens balance in this crisis.
- Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1312, NSC Secretariat, Richard M. Nixon Cables/Contingency Plans 1974, Cyprus and Greek-Turkish Contingency Plans. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Repeated Priority to Nicosia, Ankara, USNATO, and USUN.↩