91. Minutes of Meeting of the Washington Special Actions Group1


  • Cyprus


  • Chairman—Henry A. Kissinger
  • State
  • Robert Ingersoll
  • Joseph Sisco
  • Robert McCloskey
  • Wells Stabler
  • Thomas D. Boyatt
  • Defense
  • William Clements
  • Robert Ellsworth
  • Harry Bergold
  • JCS
  • Gen. George S. Brown
  • Lt. Gen. John Pauly
  • CIA
  • William Colby
  • George Lauder
  • NSC
  • Richard Kennedy
  • Harold Saunders
  • Ms. Rosemary Niehuss
  • James G. Barnum
[Page 305]

Secretary Kissinger: Bill (Mr. Colby), would you like to brief?

Mr. Colby briefed the attached text.2

Secretary Kissinger: What do you think they want to achieve by doing that? (referring to information that Ankara is moving troops into positions in southern Turkey)

Mr. Colby: They probably want to move into this area (pointing to North Central Cyprus on the map). They probably want to establish an enclave in that area.

Mr. Colby continued to brief.

Secretary Kissinger: (To Mr. Stabler) Have we told the Turks that we know of their concern?

Mr. Stabler: Not yet, but a telegram is being prepared….

Secretary Kissinger: That takes too long. Call the (Turkish) Ambassador. They should know right away what our position is.

Mr. Sisco: I’ll give him a call right now. (Mr. Sisco left the room.)

Mr. Clements: What’s this you’re doing?

Secretary Kissinger: Informing the Turks that the Greeks are not increasing the number of their forces in the island.

Mr. Colby finished his briefing.

Secretary Kissinger: Bill (Mr. Clements), do you have anything?

Mr. Clements: Well, Henry, I agree with Bill’s assessment. But I don’t really know why. I don’t think the Turks will move in (on Cyprus). They may make some noise, but I don’t think they’ll move.

Mr. Colby: Oh, I think they’ll try to avoid having to move. I didn’t mean to say that we think they’ll move. I think they’ll try the diplomatic route first, but may feel in the end that they have to move in.

Secretary Kissinger: To what end? Why should they do this?

Mr. Colby: To maintain the status quo ante.

Secretary Kissinger: I still do not understand why Turkey wants Makarios back.

Mr. Colby: Well, look at it this way. It’s either Makarios or Sampson at this point. Makarios is certainly better than Sampson from a Turkish point of view.

Secretary Kissinger is handed a cable.3

Secretary Kissinger: This just talks about the influx of forces; we already knew that. (Pointing to the map) If the Turks intervene, if they take that quadrant (Southwest), what is the proportion of Turks to Greeks in that area?

[Page 306]

Mr. Colby: It is largely Turkish.

Secretary Kissinger: If they take that quadrant (pointing to the northeast section of the island) what’s the population there?

Mr. Lauder: It’s about 50 percent Greek and 50 percent Turkish.

Mr. Colby: Their main purpose would be to establish themselves on some portion of the island just to gain a foothold.

Secretary Kissinger: With the ultimate objective of permanent occupation?

Mr. Colby: That’s one proposition.

Mr. Clements: But what would they want?

Mr. Colby: To partition or divide the island.

Secretary Kissinger: I am going to talk to the President about sending someone to London to see Makarios and Ecevit. Maybe Bob (Ingersoll). Bill, (to Mr. Clements) maybe we’ll send someone from Defense too.

Mr. Clements: Excellent!

Secretary Kissinger: Well, everybody’s agreed on that.

I think it is important that we send somebody over there to explain what our position is. The Sampson regime, it seems to me constitutes de facto enosis in the Turk view. He (Sampson) is a most unattractive guy. It’s not in our interest to have him. It’s my feeling that if Makarios is brought back it can be done only by the removal of Sampson and the Greek officers and Makarios would then have to lean more to the East.

Mr. Colby: Greece continues to pretend that this is strictly an internal Cypriot affair.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, but once they (the Greek officers) are removed the balance of power changes. If a Greek engineered coup fails, it would be a disaster from the Greek standpoint. It would be more than a slap in the face, it would be disastrous.

Mr. Colby: Not necessarily.

Secretary Kissinger: How’s that? If a coup fails, it would weaken the influence of Athens in the entire area. As I assess the situation, for us the best outcome would be a Clerides government. I just don’t understand why the Turks would want to bring Makarios back. I don’t think (the Turks) understand our analysis of the situation. Somebody has to go to London and explain our position.

Mr. Clements: It’s one thing for the Turks to invade, and another thing to take over only part of the island. That would downgrade Greek influence throughout the entire area.

Secretary Kissinger: If the Turks bring Makarios back, he (Makarios) would have to rely more on the Eastern bloc. We can’t let Makarios become a stooge of the Turks.

[Page 307]

Mr. McCloskey: Well, that would depend on how much support we give him (Makarios).

Mr. Colby: There seems to be no alternative to Makarios.

Mr. Boyatt: This is not a Greek-Turkish ethnic fight; it’s basically a political squabble.

Mr. McCloskey: Whoever has the blessing of the U.S. will also have the necessary popular support.

Secretary Kissinger: That means we can pick and choose whoever we want. That makes us king makers.

Mr. McCloskey: Whether we pick Makarios or Clerides it would stick because we could back them.

Mr. Boyatt: In my opinion Makarios would be the best for stability, but Clerides would be better from the Turkish standpoint.

Secretary Kissinger: Well, the first problem is that the National Guard is in control. How would you bring Makarios back?

Mr. Clements: That would be tougher than hell.

Secretary Kissinger: It would take a massive U.S.-Soviet effort and that would probably bring down the Greek government. How do we bring Makarios back?

Mr. McCloskey: I think we should work for Clerides.

Mr. Boyatt: We could try a diplomatic ploy. We could go to Ioannides, tell him to withdraw the Greek officers, and insist on a constitutional change, i.e., Clerides. Sampson certainly is not acceptable.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, but what if Greece doesn’t agree? It might be tough to do. We all love to conduct these grand stand plays, but where do we go after that? What do we want after that?

Mr. Colby: The status quo ante.

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, that’s easy to say, but where are you after that?

Mr. Boyatt: We have stability because Clerides has been neutralized.

Secretary Kissinger: I’m not so sure that serves our long-term interest. The trick is to diffuse the situation without tilting the present structure.

Mr. Colby: I’m not sure that Ioannides has all that long a future.

Secretary Kissinger: Joe (Sisco) what do you think?

Mr. Sisco: I think there is a faint hope of a political compromise. I would think our hopes rest in the restoration of a constitutional arrangement under Clerides. He has support in Cyprus. In my view, Makarios has had it. Another point I would like to make is that I don’t see a Sampson–Ioannides axis as making for a long-range stability. It is a very shaky situation with the possibility of Turkish intervention.

[Page 308]

Secretary Kissinger: I think both are primitives. (Makarios and Ioannides.)

Mr. Sisco: I share Bill’s (Mr. Colby’s) views. In my judgment the Turks won’t leave. That would be a difficult exercise.

Secretary Kissinger: I think constitutional continuity is what we want. We want to keep the Turks from interfering and the London talks from collapsing.

Mr. Clements: Do you feel that this will escalate to the UN?

Secretary Kissinger: Yes, I do, but it is not in our interest to get it there. I will talk to Callaghan and see what we can do. We will send somebody over to London to talk to the Turks. I will talk to the President about this in a while. We can’t let them run loose over there when they don’t know our analysis of the situation.

Mr. Ingersoll: It is in our interest to work out a constitutional solution and not get the UN involved.

Secretary Kissinger: If we can keep something going on in London, we can stonewall in the UN. We want to keep Britain and Turkey out in front of the game.

Mr. Sisco: The British judgement is that Makarios has had it.

Secretary Kissinger: Are there any other points? (To Mr. Kennedy)

Can you arrange for a call to Callaghan?

Mr. Kennedy: Yes.

Gen. Brown: I have one minor point that sort of parallels what we have been talking about. This Turkish opium issue.

Secretary Kissinger: Let’s shut up a week on the poppy issue. We don’t need to get that involved now.

Mr. Sisco: I have one small point. [1 line not declassified]

Secretary Kissinger: That’s absolutely out of the question.

Mr. Sisco: I would think so, too. [1 line not declassified]

Mr. Colby: [1 line not declassified]

Mr. Ellsworth: Regarding the squeeze we are putting on the Turks on aid…

Secretary Kissinger: What is this?

Mr. Stabler: The shipment of some $20 million worth of spare parts for Ankara has not been resumed. It is part of the opium thing.

Secretary Kissinger: There is a difference between not giving additional economic aid and not giving spare parts. We should resume the spare parts. To hold up spare military parts would be a major blow to the Turks.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Institutional Files (H–Files), Box H–096, Meeting Files, WSAG Meetings. Top Secret; Sensitive. The meeting took place in the Situation Room of the White House.
  2. Not attached and not found.
  3. Not further identified.