27. Memorandum From the Vice President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Clift) to Vice President Mondale1

No. 1541–79


  • Greece/Turkey/Cyprus

As reflected in the President’s November 28 report to the Congress, the Cyprus negotiations have been losing ground.2 President Kyprianou and the Greek Cypriots have succeeded in putting through [Page 110] a Cyprus resolution creating a seven-nation (including Cuba) international committee to assist the UN Secretary General in his efforts to find an acceptable settlement. This “internationalization” of the problem makes any settlement a more remote possibility.3


Greek Cypriots—President Kyprianou does not want to move the kind of agreement that might be possible—i.e., the agreement that appeared to be shaping up last summer involving return of Verosha by the Turkish Cypriots, with the Greek Cypriots agreeing to the Turkish definition of “bizonality.” Kyprianou would rather keep the issue alive. He is willing to allow the talks to continue for a long time in the hope that the force of international opinion will help him to achieve an agreement more to his liking.

Turkish CypriotsDenktash, in turn, has lost interest in an early agreement. He has become increasingly concerned that an early agreement, while favorable on paper for the Turkish Cypriots, might in reality dissolve with restoration of contacts and commerce between the two communities because of the cleverness of the Greek Cypriots and their ability to turn developments their way.

Turkey—Prime Minister Demirel, having just returned to office, is faced with a colossal number of problems at home, Cyprus is no more than a back burner issue, and Demirel’s minority government depends on the support of right wing Turkish parties who favor a strong Turkish Cyprus.

Greece—Again, Cyprus is a back burner issue in Athens. Internationally, Caramanlis is very annoyed that the U.S. has not been more supportive of Greece’s position on resolution of problems relating to Greece’s return to NATO. Domestically, Caramanlis is grappling with the decision on whether he will run for the newly created office of Greek President this April and, if so, who he will guide into position as his replacement in the office of Prime Minister.

UN Secretary GeneralWaldheim continues to consult and, with none of the parties interested in compromise over Cyprus, a renewed initiative by him offers the most likely avenue for fresh attention to the Cyprus settlement.

US-Greek Relations—the Greeks continue to have a love-hate relationship with the U.S. To this point, they have not favored SACEUR General Bernie Rogers’ proposed solutions to the difficult Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) problem blocking Greek reentry into NATO. Rogers has suggested that NATO’s Southern Command have [Page 111] air defense responsibilities over the Aegean’s international waters. The Greeks say that this does not solve the problem of Greek air space over the islands immediately adjacent to Turkey. When the new Greek Ambassador presented his credentials to President Carter this fall, I am told he conveyed a letter some 7 pages long from Caramanlis to the President complaining of our misguided approach to US-Greek relations.4

Looking to 1980 and anticipated pressure on the Administration by the Greek American community, I offer the following thoughts:

—A US initiative on Cyprus does not hold out much promise given the fact that of the six players (including Waldheim and ourselves) we would be the only player pressing for an early just-compromise settlement—which all others would probably interpret as expected election year activity.

—We stand the best chance, while difficult, of furthering our US foreign policy objectives (of interest to Greek Americans) if we concentrate on US-Greek relations and on working to achieve Greek reintegration in NATO—an objective of very real importance to Caramanlis in terms of his accomplishments as Prime Minister (assuming he decides to step up to the office of President this spring).

Bernie Rodgers, wearing his international hat, is taking great care to work independently of the U.S. However, I understand he will be briefing Secretary Vance during Vance’s visit to Brussels this week.5

—To keep the Cyprus front under control, I believe it might be useful if the President were to invite Waldheim to Washington early in 1980 to review the situation6—and I believe the President might wish to include important members of the Congress, such as Senators Eagleton and Sarbanes, and Representative Brademas—to demonstrate, with the Secretary General doing the talking, that the US continues to do everything it can to assist the parties toward a settlement.

—On the Greek-American front, I recommend that you get together with Vance and Christopher—you might wish initially to raise the subject at a Friday breakfast—to receive Vance’s report on his talks with Bernie Rodgers and to see if we can apply greater creativity to resolving the ADIZ problem and to achieve Greek reintegration.

Visit by Caramanlis. If Greek reintegration can be achieved and I think Caramanlis would want this to happen and will help if we help him, it may be possible for the President to extend an invitation to President Caramanlis to visit the US following the April elections in Greece.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Donated Material, Papers of Walter F. Mondale, Foreign Countries, Box 50, Foreign Countries—Greece/Turkey/Cyprus, 1979. Secret. Sent for information.
  2. For the text of the report, see Public Papers: Carter, 1979, Book II, pp. 2162–2163.
  3. See Document 74. UN General Assembly Resolution 34/30 was adopted on November 20; see footnote 5, Document 74.
  4. John Tzounis replaced Menelaos Alexandrakis as Greek Ambassador to the United States in June 1979. He presented his credentials to Carter on October 12, 1979. The letter from Karamanlis to Carter, dated September 25, 1979, emphasized that Turkey continued to poison what would otherwise be healthy and mutually beneficial relations between the United States and Greece. The letter is printed as Document 193.
  5. See Document 196.
  6. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Waldheim met with Carter at the White House on January 6 to discuss Iran and Afghanistan. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials) No substantive record of the discussion has been found.