2. Paper Prepared by Cyrus Vance for Governor Carter1


A. What are our goals?

Our goal in Cyprus is to help bring about serious negotiations which will lead to a political accommodation between the two Cypriot communities, based on a territorial (zonal) arrangement more approximate to the first cease-fire lines, within the framework of an independent and sovereign Cypriot state. The political accommodation should be accompanied by a withdrawal of all foreign armed forces from Cyprus and a return of all refugees to their homes in safety2,3.

From a broader standpoint, our goals are to assist in the prevention of conflict and the improvement of relations between Greece and Turkey and the resolution of the Cyprus problem. These objectives are of major importance to the United States, to NATO and to peace and stability in the region. To these ends, we should be prepared to assist the parties, in any reasonable and even-handed way, in the resolution of their differences.4

B. 1967 and 1974 experience.

1. In 1967, the United States determined that it was in its interest and that of world peace to play an active part in attempting to prevent a war between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus, and in assisting the parties to resolve their differences. To this end, President Johnson dispatched Vance as his special representative to Ankara, Athens and Ni[Page 5]cosia to assist in mediating the potential conflict. In carrying out this responsibility, Vance immediately flew to Ankara and then shuttled back and forth between Athens and Ankara in an attempt to ascertain the essential demands of the parties. This was done in an even-handed fashion without any tilt toward either of the parties. After receiving a full bill of particulars from both sides, Vance prepared four points of proposed agreement which, in his judgment, met the essential demands of the parties and gave them a face-saving formula under which each could draw back from the brink. With minor modifications, both countries agreed to these points. Thereupon, Vance went immediately to Nicosia and in a series of negotiations obtained the Archbishop’s acquiescence. In this process, Vance worked closely with the special representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations, and with the ambassadors of several countries. The cooperation and team work was excellent.5

2. In 1974, the Administration was unwilling to take a positive role and, as a result of its vacillation, indecision and misjudgment, failed to take the steps which might have deterred the invasion. The Administration tilted toward Turkey and did not play an even-handed role. As a result, the United States has succeeded in alienating Greece, Turkey and the Republic of Cyprus. The situation now stands in a tragic and seemingly hopeless impasse.

C. Background.

Like France and Germany, Turkey and Greece joined NATO amid expectations in the Atlantic community that common purpose could overcome ancient antipathies.6 It has not. Despite their cooperation within the Alliance, Greece and Turkey are at loggerheads over Cyprus, in whose intercommunal conflicts each is intensely involved, and over Aegean Sea rights. Presumably neither country (especially Greece, the weaker) wants war between them. Nonetheless, their postures risk such a war—which could disintegrate NATO’s southern front and further unsettle the Middle East.

Turkish-Greek confrontations have not been of American making, nor can they be dissolved except by Greece and Turkey themselves. Even so, both countries (and again especially Greece, needing a counterbalance to Turkish strength), have looked to the United States for support and protection against the other. Resolute American policy has twice (in 1964 and 1967) been a crucial factor in averting Turkish military action against Cyprus in circumstances that could have led to di[Page 6]rect Greek-Turkish war. Conversely, wobbly American policy in 1974 undoubtedly gave Turkey some encouragement when it decided to seize and occupy a major part of Cyprus, with consequences that will continue to be an issue in 1977.

Both Greece and Turkey, especially the latter, are relatively poor countries by European standards and seek fuller economic integration with Europe. Better relations between them could hasten this process by enabling them to focus more resources on development.

The essence of the matter is that the United States, NATO, and the countries in the eastern Mediterranean have a very strong interest in getting stability in the area.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Office, 1976–77 Transition File (Anthony Lake), Box 103, Cyprus/Turkey: 5–10/76. No classification marking. At the top of the page, Vance wrote, “Governor—Per your request I have prepared this brief paper on Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey. Hope it’s helpful in the debate. I believe this is one of the most vulnerable points in the Republican record. Cy.” Vance, an attorney in private practice and a former Deputy Secretary of Defense, advised Governor Carter on foreign affairs during the campaign. It is likely that Vance was referring to the second of three debates between Carter and President Ford. The debate, which took place on October 6, 1976, in San Francisco, focused primarily on national security and foreign policy issues. The Cyprus issue did not come up. Below Vance’s note, Carter initialed “C.”
  2. Carter underlined the last sentence of this paragraph.
  3. These two points have been endorsed by 117 nations, including Greece and Turkey, in General Assembly Resolution 3212 of 1 Nov. 1974, which was passed by a vote of 117–0–0. [Footnote in the original.]
  4. Vance’s emphasis on even-handedness with regard to the Greece-Cyprus-Turkey dispute was expressed more fully in two position papers released by the Carter campaign. For text of these papers, see The Presidential Campaign, 1976, vol. I, part 1: Jimmy Carter, pp. 689–690.
  5. Documentation on the Vance Mission, which began in late November 1967, is in Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XVI, Cyprus; Greece; Turkey.
  6. Turkey and Greece both joined NATO on February 18, 1952.