49. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Cyprus1

71814. Subject: Meeting Between Secretary and Cyprus House of Representatives President Michaelides.

1. Cyprus House of Representatives President Michaelides, accompanied by Cypriot Ambassador Dimitriou, met with Secretary March 17. Counselor Nimetz, EUR Deputy Assistant Secretary Barbour and EUR/SE Director Ewing were also present for 25 minute meeting. Michaelides talked privately with Secretary for five minutes at end of conversation. Most of discussion centered on Cyprus problem, but Michaelides also gave Secretary brief description of his recent visit to Cairo (septel-Notal).2

2. Michaelides said that GOC was rather concerned that no progress was being achieved on Cyprus problem. Greek Cypriots were now expecting proposals from Turkish side but did not know when or even if proposals would be made, whether, if made, they would make resumption of the negotiating process possible. Secretary said he shared Michaelides hope that Turkish proposals will be made, will be constructive and will lead to substantive dialogue and real progress.

3. Michaelides said the Greek Cypriots were keen to solve the problem. He said he understood that after the Turkish Cypriot proposals were given to Secretary General Waldheim, the latter would consult with the parties. Michaelides said he hoped this procedure would be followed since it was essential for fruitful negotiations. He asked whether the U.S. could play a role at this stage to assist, in consultation with the Secretary General, in narrowing the gap in positions to make effective negotiations possible. The Secretary responded that he had told Waldheim and the parties that we would leave the matter in the Secretary General’s hands. If he or the parties requested U.S. assistance, we would be glad to help. However, we did not want to intrude ourselves into the situation.

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4. Michaelides said he was not suggesting replacing the Secretary General’s role. Quiet U.S. efforts could perhaps help bridge what he was sure would be an initial gap in positions. Too large a gap in positions would keep the Greek Cypriots from negotiating and time would be lost. Michaelides said the GOC wanted to think positively; U.S. assistance to the Secretary General would be of great help.

5. The Secretary said he had discussed matter with Waldheim on several recent occasions.3 When Waldheim received the proposals, he would see if a basis exists for an intercommunal meeting. Waldheim might share his views with the U.S., but that was entirely up to him. Michaelides said the Greek Cypriots did not want a failure; they were “eager but not desperate” to see negotiating movement. He felt the U.S. can always play a significant role in the Cyprus problem.

6. The Secretary recalled that in his recent visits to Ankara and Athens he had promised that the U.S. would be glad to help if asked by the parties, but would not intrude itself into the situation.4 He agreed fully with Michaelides comment that quiet efforts would be more effective.

7. Michaelides asked about the GOT attitude which as he understood it was that the U.S. should not interfere in the Cyprus problem. He did not understand that position since Turkey had asked U.S. views on Cyprus. The Secretary replied that he understood that the Greek position was that the U.S. should not involve itself either. Michaelides said he thought there was room for quiet, high level diplomatic efforts to help bridge the gaps and that certainly his government appreciated U.S. help.

8. Michaelides said that the GOC had great and serious concern that at this critical juncture the U.S. might consider lifting the embargo restrictions on Turkey. The GOC felt that U.S. arms restrictions represented the only really practical means of pressure on Turkey. The arms embargo was not total—arms supplies from the U.S. continued. He saw the restrictions as a means of telling Turkey that the U.S. did not agree [Page 175] with its aggression on Cyprus. Michaelides doubted very much that the Turks would negotiate and make concessions if the embargo was lifted and they no longer had an incentive nor would Ecevit be able to overcome opposition objections to concessions on Cyprus should the embargo no longer provide a need to move. Michaelides said he hoped the U.S. would keep in mind that there might be a catastrophic reaction among public opinion in Cyprus if attempts to solve the Cyprus problem failed because the embargo was lifted. He asked the Secretary whether the administration had reached a conclusion in its decision process.

9. The Secretary said he had nothing to add to what had already been said on the subject. Michaelides said he hoped the GOC concerns would be taken into account.

10. In response to a question, the Secretary said the Turkish Government previously indicated that Cyprus proposals would be forthcoming. The Secretary expected that they will make proposals but did not know about the timing, nor did we have any information on the substance of the proposals. Ecevit was, however, clearly committed to a federal solution.

11. Michaelides agreed that a true federal solution would be best for both communities, but stressed the importance of including provision for the principles of freedom of movement, settlement, and right of property. He also expressed a feeling that Denktash would be a serious obstacle to any real progress.

12. Nimetz said Department only had press reports to go on but it appeared the Turkish side might delay putting proposals forward. During his February visit to Ankara, Nimetz said the Turks were actively working on the proposals.5 We understood that a major effort at the highest level had been made, although we had no information on details of the proposals.

13. Michaelides said that the territorial question was especially important. The Secretary said the U.S. had long recognized and stated to all parties that territorial and constitutional questions were equally important. Both would have to be dealt with constructively to achieve a solution.

14. The Secretary suggested, and Michaelides agreed, that in this delicate period it would be best to say to the press simply that the Secretary had looked forward to meeting Michaelides for the first time for a general review of the situation in the area and to be brought up to date on GOC views.

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15. Dimitriou said that President Kyprianou would be grateful if he could have the Secretary’s home telephone number. The Secretary agreed that it could be provided.

16. Dimitriou also asked when Kyprianou might expect a reply to his recent letter to the President. The Secretary said he hoped such a reply could be sent next week. He noted that the President had been extremely busy recently with southern Lebanon, the Panama Canal Treaty, the coal strike, etc.

17. The remainder of the conversation was directed to Cyprus/Egypt relations (septel) before Michaelides met briefly with the Secretary alone.6

  1. Source: Department of State, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Cyrus R. Vance, Secretary of State—1977–1980, Lot 84D241, Box 10, Vance EXDIS MemCons, 1978. Confidential; Priority; Exdis. Drafted by Ewing; cleared by Barbour and Anderson; and approved by Nimetz. Sent for information to Ankara, Athens, London, and USUN.
  2. Reference is presumably to telegram 8444 from Cairo, March 16. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780116–0132) Michaelides made the trip in an attempt to defuse Egyptian-Cypriot tensions resulting from the Larnaca Airport incident of February 18. According to the Embassy’s report, the visit was unsuccessful.
  3. The Cyprus issue arose in two recent exchanges between Vance and Waldheim. During a UN bilateral meeting, reported in telegram Secto 10014 from the Secretary’s Delegation in New York, September 30, Waldheim told Vance that he was willing to restart intercommunal talks between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, but warned against “familiar Turkish delaying tactics.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770357–0177) Later in this conversation Vance assured Waldheim that he did not wish to “hamper” UN efforts to resume the intercommunal talks. In telegram 7101 to Tehran, January 11, Vance replied to a letter from Waldheim and expressed his delight at Waldheim’s notification that the latest round of Cyprus negotiations had proven promising. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P840148–2295)
  4. See Documents 107 and 173.
  5. Nimetz was in Ankara February 21–24.
  6. No substantive record of this portion of the conversation was found.