39. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Current Situation in Cyprus


  • Spyros Kyprianou, President, Cyprus House of Representatives
  • Ambassador Nicos G. Dimitrious, Cypriot Ambassador to the U.S.
  • Mr. Andros A. Nicolaides, Counselor, Embassy of Cyprus
  • Mr. Clark Clifford, President’s Special Representative
  • Ambassador William Crawford, U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus
  • Mr. Nelson C. Ledsky, Director, EUR/SE (Note taker)

Clark Clifford began the conversation by inviting Kyprianou to describe the current situation on Cyprus, particularly since February.

Kyprianou responded that the Cypriot government had lived up to all its commitments, and at Vienna in April had done everything possible to move the Cyprus negotiations forward. The Greek Cypriot map was complete and comprehensive in contrast to the Turkish Cypriot constitutional presentation, which was totally inadequate.

Since Vienna, an aura of disappointment had settled over Nicosia. Nothing of substance had occurred. There were still ceremonial talks taking place in Nicosia, but no progress of any kind had been recorded. A further meeting or two had been set for July to determine whether another full round of talks should be scheduled in Vienna. The Cypriots are skeptical about the utility of such a round, and Archbishop Makarios has made it clear that there will be no talk for the sake of talking.

The Cypriot government does not want to give the world the impression that something has been achieved when, in fact, nothing has been achieved. The main effort had to be focused in Ankara, and the key to a solution rested with the new Turkish government and not with Denktash. Kyprianou suggested that Ecevit should be in a position to make more concessions on Cyprus than any other Turkish leader, but that his initial statements had been disappointing and discouraging.

Kyprianou concluded that Cyprus was on the eve of several crucial months and in this connection asked Clifford if he intended to follow up on his earlier mission. Kyprianou said Clifford’s personal ef[Page 140]forts had been most important, and would continue to be vital to any chance for progress.

Clifford said the U.S. Government hoped that progress could soon be made toward a Cyprus settlement. We, too, had been disappointed with developments in the past several months, but attributed the slower pace to the Turkish electoral situation. Even the Turkish memorandum on the constitution perhaps should be seen in the light of the fact that no Turkish government, on the eve of an election, could have authorized a more forthcoming document, knowing that it might be made public at any moment.2

Clifford went on to say that the U.S. did not want just any agreement on Cyprus, but one that was fair and had a chance to endure. Partition of the island was clearly not the answer. Nor did either of the documents presented by the parties in Vienna provide a real future blueprint. This was too bad, but understandable. No negotiator ever puts forward his total position in his first presentation.

Clifford said that the momentum achieved during his previous visit in February had to be restored. The U.S. intended to talk to the new Turkish government in this sense, pointing out to Ankara the unique opportunity that now existed to settle the problem for the good of Turkey, NATO and overall stability in the Eastern Mediterranean. Clifford said that for the moment we were marking time until we could get an accurate reading of the Turkish situation. We were also beginning to prepare for our next move, and in so doing had come to a number of conclusions. First, it was evident that no solution could be reached quickly if the matter were left exclusively to the two communities on Cyprus. Both Greece and Turkey had an important role to play in the process. Secondly, though all the various issues in the Eastern Mediterranean were inter-related, it was important to keep Cyprus separate. Mixing the issues together could only complicate the chances for solving any of them. Finally, a Cyprus solution was only possible if both communities compromised with respect to the structure of a future government. It was not enough to fall back on words like sovereignty, viability, independence. These concepts were susceptible to varying interpretations. In Clifford’s view what was possible was a federation on the U.S. model. This could provide a large measure of local autonomy together with an effective, functioning central government. Local authorities could be responsible for protecting life and property, collecting some taxes, running schools and social services, but the pre-eminent authority would belong to the central government.

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Clifford said that at the right moment, he and his group were prepared to go out to the area again. He was prepared to be active, but only if the parties asked him to be active and raised no obstacles to further U.S. involvement. Clifford said he would only return to the area at a time convenient to the parties—all the parties—and that in the meantime, the two communities on the island should continue whatever contacts they could. There was a psychological value in meetings, even if progress was limited. Conversely, a break-off could effectively set back the negotiating process.

Clifford noted that, so far, the U.S. had only been involved procedurally. Our participation in Vienna was clearly of this sort, and we were reluctant about moving into the substance of individual issues. Nonetheless, we were flexible, and if the parties wanted greater U.S. involvement or participation, we would certainly be willing to move in that direction. For example, if the parties wanted, he or members of his team could come to Cyprus and remain on the island for some time.

Our willingness to help, said Clifford, was based on the American peoples’ continuing interest in Cyprus. This interest is most clearly reflected in the Congress. Anything hopeful that occurs on the island assists our involvement. Conversely, anything unpleasant complicates our involvement and makes it more difficult for the U.S. to be of assistance. In this connection, Clifford mentioned the trial of the murderers of Ambassador Davies.3 He said the U.S. response to the convictions meted out to those found guilty had thus far been positive. The penalties were admittedly relatively mild, but most Americans feel that at least action has been taken and that the killers had been identified, tried and punished to some degree. In this connection, Clifford said that the American people and the Congress would note with concern any commutation or lessening of the sentences of those convicted.

Kyprianou thanked Clifford for his candid assessment of the situation. He said Clifford’s views on Ambassador Davies’ killers would be conveyed directly to Archbishop Makarios. With respect to future negotiations, Kyprianou said Clifford’s active involvement, so long as consistent with the UN umbrella, would be most welcome. Kyprianou also thanked Clifford for his statements about the need for a strong central government and Clifford’s clear renunciation of partition.

Kyprianou noted that while there might be further Greek Cypriot compromising, their proposals had been drafted with great care and difficulty, and already embodied serious concessions. There were limits to how far the Greek Cypriots could go, particularly since the [Page 142] Turkish Cypriots have not yet made the slightest concessions. Kyprianou emphasized again that the next few months would be crucial.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Office of Southern Europe, Records of Counselor Nimetz, 1977–1980, Lot 83D256, Box 1, POL 2 Cyprus 1977 and 1978. Confidential. Drafted by Ledsky on July 11. The meeting took place in Clifford’s office.
  2. See footnote 3, Document 38.
  3. Ambassador to Cyprus Rodger Davies was killed during an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Nicosia on August 19, 1974.