36. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Berlin, Cyprus, Arms Control, CSCE, Bilateral Matters


  • United States

    • Secretary Cyrus R. Vance
    • Ambassador Malcolm Toon
    • Mr. Paul Warnke
    • Assistant Secretary Arthur Hartman
    • Mr. William Hyland
    • Deputy Assistant Secretary Slocombe
    • Mr. William D. Krimer, Interpreter
  • USSR

    • Foreign Minister A.A. Gromyko
    • Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers L.V. Smirnov
    • Deputy Foreign Minister Georgiy Korniyenko
    • Ambassador A.F. Dobrynin
    • Mr. O. Sokolov
    • Mr. V.F. Sukhodrev, Interpreter

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Cyprus.]


Gromyko suggested to take up the question of Cyprus. He asked if the Secretary would like to be first to speak. How did he assess the present situation? The Soviet Union did not want to see any hostilities in that area, and therefore hoped the US position was similar.

The Secretary said he would be happy to take up the Cyprus question. He personally had been involved in Cyprus problems over the years, particularly during the period of time in 1967 when he, together with others from the United Nations, was involved in resolving the dispute that existed at the time, in order to avoid a conflict between Greeks and Turks.2 It was with concern and sadness that he had seen the conflict break out in the early 70’s. Since then a number of efforts by various countries and by the United Nations were made to try and find a way to resolve such conflicts. Recently, in an effort to offer our good offices and help the United Nations in their efforts to resolve the dispute, we had sent a mission to Cyprus headed by Mr. Clifford. Mr. Clif[Page 133]ford had discussed the issues that divide the Greeks and Turks, in particular with the Archbishop and Mr. Denktash, to see whether or not common ground that would settle the dispute could be found. In so doing, he had indicated that he had no wish to do anything that would not be helpful to UN Secretary General Waldheim’s efforts to settle the intra-communal dispute. Clifford had reported the results of his discussions with Cyprus leaders to Waldheim and had offered our assistance. As Gromyko undoubtedly knew, the intra-communal talks were about to begin in Vienna today, and it was the Secretary’s understanding that the parties had new proposals on the table that would be helpful. As he understood it, one side would put forward a new proposal to resolve the territorial question, and the other a proposal to resolve the question of governmental structure. If these proposals were actually discussed, then perhaps we would see progress. This was in the hands of the Secretary General, as an overseeing party to the discussion. We believed we should leave matters in his hands, while supporting his efforts.

Gromyko remarked that while Waldheim was overseeing matters he was, of course, in no position to decide anything.

The Secretary agreed that that was correct. The ultimate solutions should be worked out by the parties. Therefore, he thought we should see what comes out of the Vienna talks and then decide.

Gromyko asked if he could take it that it would be correct to state that the new Administration in the US favored preservation of Cyprus as an independent, sovereign, and integrated state.

The Secretary answered: “You can.”

Gromyko took that to be a very good response; it indicated that our positions had much in common. He would ask another question—would the US Government agree that no foreign troops should be based in Cyprus, that the Greek and Turkish Cypriots live in peace, that they maintain order with their own small forces, or was its position that foreign troops should be retained there indefinitely.

The Secretary said that the first was our view. However, the question of British bases on Cyprus would have to be worked out between Britain and Cyprus.3

Gromyko said that that was another question. He had asked whether the US believed that ultimately there should be no foreign troops in Cyprus.

The Secretary said he clearly agreed that there should be no Greek or Turkish forces in Cyprus. That had been our position from the beginning.

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Gromyko said that this response drew our positions closer together. By way of information, he told the Secretary that recently Foreign Minister Caglayangil of Turkey had visited Moscow.4 He had touched on the Cyprus question. Gromyko did not know where he had obtained that information, but on the territorial question he had said that in general Greek Cypriots—Archbishop Makarios—were closer to accepting the idea of 30%–31% of territory for the Turks. If that was really so, the Turkish Foreign Minister had said, then the Greek and Turkish positions on the territorial question were not all that far apart. Gromyko was saying this to the Secretary for the sake of information, but could not go into further detail, since this was not a subject for discussion between Turkey and the Soviet Union. He felt it would not be out of place if our two countries could assist and advise the two communities, although it would be they who would have to arrive at a final settlement.

The Secretary said it was his understanding that the Turkish Cypriots’ position was that they wanted to get 30%–31% of the territory, while the Greeks were prepared to give something closer to 20%. He would predict that they would finally compromise on 26%–27%.

Gromyko said that had also been his impression after his talk with the Turkish Foreign Minister. He had suspected that 30%–31% was more wishful thinking than reality.

To finish up with the Cyprus question, Gromyko said the Soviet Union would hope that the question would be settled and would no longer be a problem. He felt that, in general, the Turks were inclined to take the road toward solution. He believed that if both sides were flexible, we could be optimistic about the future. However, no one should interfere with them, although the US and the Soviet Union should assist and prevent any outside interference. As for military bases, and foreign troops, ultimately these should leave.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Cyprus.]

  1. Source: Department of State, Personal files of Cyrus R. Vance, 1977–1980, Lot 80D135, Box 1, Moscow Trip, March 28, 1977. Secret; Nodis. Drafted by William D. Krimer (OPR/LS) on April 2; reviewed in draft by Hyland; approved by Twaddell on April 12. The meeting took place at the Kremlin. Vance was in Moscow primarily to reopen strategic arms discussions. The full text is printed in Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. VI, Soviet Union, Document 21.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XVI, Cyprus; Greece; Turkey, Documents 307, 319, 320, 325, 335, 339, 359. Vance noted his work on the Cyprus issue during this time in his memoirs. (Hard Choices, pp. 144 and 168)
  3. See footnote 3, Document 8.
  4. Çağlayangil was in the Soviet Union from March 13 to 17. The Embassy reported in telegram 3789 from Moscow, March 22, that Çağlayangil secured Soviet endorsement of the Cypriot intercommunal talks. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770099–0026)