196. Telegram From the Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to the Department of State1

8749. Subj: (C) Secretary’s Meeting With Greek Foreign Minister Rallis.

1. (C-entire text)

Summary: Greek reintegration was the first issue discussed, and it was agreed that the effort of SACEUR Rogers should continue though Rallis mentioned that the Greeks could not wait for a favorable answer indefinitely.2 Rallis also made a special point of raising Cyprus and urging the United States to convince Secretary General Waldheim to take an immediate initiative to get the intercommunal talks resumed. The atmosphere of this meeting was entirely cordial, with the Greek side generally attempting to suggest a willingness to be helpful in the search for solutions to these regional problems. End summary.

2. Greek reintegration: Vance informed Rallis that General Rogers had expressed some sense of optimism to him in the morning. Rogers feels that his discussions should continue, that the process is alive, and that progress can be made. Rallis noted that he, too, had had a brief meeting with Rogers and found him rather optimistic. Rallis had informed Rogers that the Greeks would prefer not to push for a solution that might be unacceptable to the parties; that it was better to wait and elaborate a solution acceptable to the two countries concerned. Rallis also wished to stress, however, that the Greek possibilities for waiting are not limitless. This limit is not one that can be accurately predicted or controlled by the Greek Government. He mentioned that opposition interest in this issue had subsided somewhat, but they still ask the government why it hesitates and waits for a better response from the Alliance that never seems to come. He mentioned that the opposition raised this issue two or three times in the last month. If the Greek Government is forced to wait too long, Rallis said it would be obliged to conclude that there is no answer and return to the situation of late 1974–1975 which would not be good for either Greece or the Alliance.

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3. In this regard, Rallis mentioned that no major events in Greek political life were expected until April of next year. He added that he hoped at that time Karamanlis would decide to move up to the Presidency from which he could be a guiding force in Greek political life for five more years; but such a decision was up to Karamanlis, and was not known to others.

4. Rallis then described his meeting with Rogers. He told Rogers that the Greeks will wait and hope. He said that Rogers talked about eventual concessions from both sides. Rallis responded that the possibilities for further Greek concessions were very limited. He explained that the Greek Government had always hoped that its reintegration into NATO would be applauded by the public and that Greek membership in NATO would not be something that the public or major sections of the public would oppose. Rallis then asked if the Secretary had anything further to say about reintegration. The Secretary said he had no further ideas at this point. Since Rogers was optimistic enough to want to continue on the military course a bit further, that is the course the Secretary would recommend. Rallis agreed.

5. Cyprus: Rallis mentioned that Cypriot President Kyprianou had been in Athens last Monday. Karamanlis had told him that if Waldheim comes up with suggestions for making progress before the new special Cyprus committee would supposedly begin work in March, Kyprianou should accept.3 Karamanlis made clear to him that Waldheim is the only possible channel to a solution, that all other ways of seeking a solution are disagreeable to others, including Greece. The Greeks believe that Kyprianou was perhaps persuaded that a resumed dialogue is needed at the beginning of the year.

6. Rallis then told of that morning’s encounter with Lord Carrington who had asked him which of the two sides was more eager to enter into negotiations. Rallis told him that clearly the Greek side, since it had 48 percent of its territory occupied, and the continuation of this unacceptable situation must eventually lead to a de facto partition. He also told Carrington that negotiations cannot start on the basis of the suggestions recently put forward by the Turkish Cypriots, but if Waldheim has new suggestions for starting the dialogue, the Greek Government will try to persuade the Greek Cypriots. Secretary Vance then asked whether the Greek Government believes President Kyprianou is ready to talk. Rallis said it was hard to answer such a question with a simple yes or no. He could assure the Secretary, however, that all of the non-Communist politicians in Cyprus desire negotiations and will try to reassure Kyprianou that there is no political danger for him [Page 600] from the left if he accedes to logical suggestions. Once the talks start, the Greek Government would encourage Kyprianou. Rallis doubted that Waldheim was very willing to get engaged in the Cyprus problem again. The Greeks believe, however, that he should try and that this is exactly the moment when progress can begin.

7. Secretary Vance then asked Counselor Nimetz to describe recent American contacts with the UN. Nimetz said he expected to be in New York on Tuesday, December 18, and that he has recently touched base with the UN staff which is looking for a way to do something, but had not quite come up with a formulation. Nimetz recounted that the Turkish Cypriots had accepted the final UN language for resuming the talks, but that the Greek Cypriots had said they would only agree to their resumption on the basis of the May 19 Agreement.4 Nimetz stated his belief that the Secretary General should be able to come up with a linguistic formulation that would provide a basis for resuming the talks. Secretary Vance noted that the problem is not one of just getting the two sides to the table, but one of having them actually talk.

8. To this, Rallis urged the US and the UK to tell Waldheim quite directly that he must not stop the progress at the first encounter of difficulty. He should not be asked to totally risk his prestige, but he has been so careful at times that he misses the bus at every turn. Secretary Vance sought assurances that Kyprianou had said he would come back and seriously talk. The Secretary noted in his last conversation with Kyprianou, the Cypriot President had said that he believed that he would only return to negotiations if there was a change in the format.5 Vance concluded that if the Greeks were convinced, it was worth the effort the US would try.

9. Rallis said the Greek Government had convinced Kyprianou that the committee idea would not help.6 (Rallis had earlier told Nimetz informally that Greece did not like the idea since it would permit other countries to meddle in the region.) On the other hand, if nothing occurs until March, Kyprianou will be stuck and will not be able to resist pressures to seek active members on the committee and get it started. Vance said the United States would make an effort with the UN to get new language, to get the talks started, and to have them keep at it.

10. There followed a discussion of whether in contacts with the UN, the United States could mention this interest of the Greek Government. Rallis said that the United States could say that the Greek Government had been in touch with Kyprianou and believes that the time is [Page 601] ripe for a major effort to get the negotiations going. Rallis also suggested that the United States make clear to Cypriot Foreign Minister Rolandis that this effort is being made. In this regard, there need be no secrets about the fact that the Greek Government has asked the United States to make this effort. Rallis characterized Rolandis as a very logical person who finds it difficult at times when trapped at the center of this intense political drama. But they are convinced that Rolandis wants a solution totally and should be helped.

11. Greek-Turkish relations: Rallis noted that he would be meeting on Friday with his Turkish counterpart.7 It would be their first meeting. He would ask his Secretary General, Mr. Theodoropoulous, to follow up by meeting with his counterpart the next month. Rallis will try to create a good atmosphere for that meeting. He said that if the Turks propose something logical, Greece will accept. He doubted that this will happen because he feels the new Turkish Government, like its predecessors, lacks the strength to make difficult decisions.

12. Secretary Vance summarized by saying that on Cyprus, the United States will talk to Waldheim and will keep in touch on this through Ambassadors. Vance also mentioned that the United States appreciated the effort involved in the letter from President Karamanlis which Ambassador Tzounis had delivered.8 The letter is being considered carefully. The two sides should stay in touch on such issues. Rallis then mentioned that Mr. Theodoropoulous wanted to make sure that the US understood that where Greek reintegration is concerned, there is a limit to how long the Greek side can wait. It is not a question of a definite limit like January 15 or February 15, rather it is a limit that is not within the control of the Greek Government. The US side said that it had understood this point.

13. The meeting concluded with general expressions of sympathy and concern involving the situation in Iran.

14. Participants:


Foreign Minister Georges Rallis

Amb. Athanssiou (PermRep)

Amb. Theodoropoulos, MFA, SecGen

Amb. Tsamados, MFA, Head of NATO Affairs

Constantin Yerocostopoulos, Greek Mission

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Secretary Vance

Ambassador Bennett

Mr. Nimetz

Mr. Vest

Mr. Blackwill

Mr. Hopper

  1. Source: Department of State, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Cyrus R. Vance, Secretary of State—1977–1980, Lot 84D241, Box 9, unlabeled folder. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Sent for information Immediate to Athens, USUN, and Nicosia; Priority to Ankara; and to USNMR SHAPE, London, Bonn, Paris, and Rome. Vance and Rallis were attending the NATO Ministerial meeting in Brussels.
  2. General Bernard W. Rogers succeeded Haig as Supreme Allied Commander Europe in July 1979.
  3. See Documents 73 and 74.
  4. See Document 67.
  5. See Document 73.
  6. See footnote 2, Document 73.
  7. December 21.
  8. See Document 193.