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

144337. Subject: Secretary’s Meeting With Cyprus President Kyprianou, New York, June 3, 1978.

1. Summary: Secretary met with Cyprus President Kyprianou at latter’s request at Hotel Pierre in New York Saturday, June 3. One-hour meeting covered various aspects of Cyprus negotiating situation, particularly Kyprianou’s continuing interest in arranging meeting for himself with Turkish Prime Minister Ecevit. Also present were Foreign Minister Rolandis, MFA Secretary General Pelaghias, and Cyprus U.N. Representative Rossides. Secretary was accompanied by Counselor Nimetz and EUR/SE Director Ewing. Secretary met briefly alone with Kyprianou at end of general meeting. End summary.

2. Kyprianou said he had thought it would be useful to exchange views with Secretary on contacts he had had in New York since they had last met on May 25 (State 134352).2 Kyprianou said he would be in Washington June 8 and expected to leave the U.S. on June 11.3 He said he had done his best to arrange a meeting with Ecevit but he now felt that no such meeting could be set up at this time.

3. At the request of Kyprianou, Foreign Minister Rolandis described the brief conversation he had with Ecevit prior to a lunch June 2 given by UN SYG Waldheim. Rolandis said he had asked Ecevit (with Defense Minister Isik and MFA Sec Gen Elekdag also present) why he would not meet with President Kyprianou as the latter had proposed. According to Rolandis, Ecevit said that Kyprianou was creating many difficulties for the Turkish side, citing a Kyprianou statement in Chicago indicating that Denktash did not represent the Turkish Cypriots. Ecevit explained that a meeting without Denktash present would imply Turkish acceptance of that view. Rolandis said he told Ecevit that he and Kyprianou could make progress if they met alone but that [Page 193] would not be possible with others present. Ecevit made the counter-suggestion of a four-party meeting with Karamanlis also present. Rolandis said a four-party meeting was impossible for both Kyprianou and the GOG but that a Kyprianou-Ecevit meeting might find common ground and establish a base for further negotiations. The Greek side was not against negotiations but was waiting for adequate Turkish proposals. Rolandis recalled that Elekdag had continued the conversation after Ecevit left and had stressed that only Ecevit of Turkey’s leaders in the recent past did want to solve the Cyprus problem and was in a position to do so. (Elekdag told DeptOffs separately that GOT was not seeking to denigrate Kyprianou by Ecevit’s refusal to meet alone but it simply could not be placed in a position of undermining or discrediting Denktash.)

4. Secretary Vance said he too believed that Ecevit did want to solve the Cyprus problem. He had internal problems in Turkey and the festering sore of Cyprus took time and attention away from other problems. We were convinced that the Turkish Government did want to find a lasting Cyprus settlement.

5. Kyprianou said that British Foreign Secretary Owen had asked urgently to see him June 2 following a Callaghan-Ecevit meeting earlier in the day. (Kyprianou said he had agreed to visit London June 23 to talk further with the British about what they could do concerning the Cyprus problem.) Owen had pressed the four-party meeting idea, but Kyprianou said he had responded that such a meeting would make Cyprus in part a Greek-Turkish bilateral matter, a result which was unacceptable. Kyprianou said he had told Owen that he could not meet Denktash on an equal footing. Denktash and Ecevit were not on close terms and there was growing opposition to Denktash in the Turkish Cypriot community. Kyprianou said he was receiving many messages from Turkish Cypriots urging that he not see Denktash. Just before his death Makarios had told Kyprianou that his having met with Denktash had created many problems, and thus, Kyprianou claimed, he was following the Makarios line. Kyprianou said that while Ecevit had internal problems, so did he. He thought that no one in Cyprus would tolerate his having met with Denktash. Kyprianou said that his initiative to suggest a meeting with Ecevit showed that he did indeed want progress on the Cyprus problem even before the Turkish arms embargo question was decided.

6. Kyprianou said he was willing to meet with Ecevit in his personal capacity without his being addressed as President of the Republic of Cyprus. An advance announcement was not necessary and he was willing to make an advance commitment to permit a satisfactory meeting to be arranged. He thought that such a bilateral meeting was the only way to see if common ground could be found for eventual re[Page 194]sumption of intercommunal talks. Kyprianou said Owen had then suggested a Kyprianou meeting with Ecevit and Denktash together. Kyprianou said it would be unacceptable for the Turkish Prime Minister to meet with the two Cypriot communal leaders, but it might be possible if Kyprianou, as President of Cyprus, and Denktash, as an advisor to Ecevit, were to get together with Ecevit. But there were also practical problems since, according to Kyprianou, with Denktash present it would not be possible to go into the depth of the Cyprus problem and get something concrete. Kyprianou said he sincerely wanted to make a breakthrough.

7. The Secretary said he had given the matter of arranging a meeting considerable thought since their last conversation. He agreed that it was essential that the present deadlock be broken and that the present opportunity be seized. He recognized the difficulties for both Ecevit and Kyprianou of arranging an appropriate meeting. The Secretary said he thought there were really only two possibilities: (a) a four-party meeting, and (b) some three-person variation. He hoped the latter could be pursued to see if something could be arranged, perhaps under the auspices of the Secretary General. Kyprianou said in that case he would have to be recognized as the President of the Government of Cyprus. The Secretary said he thought that Waldheim could try to put something together involving Kyprianou, Ecevit and Denktash during which Kyprianou could talk with Ecevit. The Secretary said he had not discussed this matter with Ecevit in any detail but said he thought a quiet meeting in New York under the auspices of the Secretary General might be practical and possible for all concerned. Kyprianou said he would think about it further.

8. Nimetz recalled that he had suggested to Pelaghias June 2 an idea which we knew the Turks would have accepted of a Kyprianou-Denktash meeting under the auspices of Waldheim at which a date and place for resumption of intercommunal negotiations would have been announced followed by a tripartite meeting involving Ecevit.4 Nimetz said it was our understanding that the Turks were unwilling to have a three-party meeting without a prior Kyprianou-Denktash meeting. Our view was that the intercommunal talks offered the way to move forward with the problem.

9. Kyprianou suggested that if that were the case, Papadopoulos should be the one to deal with Denktash or with some other Turkish Cypriot. The Secretary stressed that intercommunal talks must be the way to resolve the Cyprus problem, and that if some form of other meeting could take place, it should help find a way for resumption of [Page 195] talks. The Turkish Cypriots must decide who is their appropriate representative; this was a decision that could not be taken by the Greek Cypriots or other outsiders.

10. Kyprianou said that if a meeting with Ecevit could not be done properly that he was prepared to withdraw the whole idea which he had initiated. The Secretary said again that an opportunity existed to make a real breakthrough on the Cyprus problem and we would regret if that opportunity was missed. Kyprianou said he did not see how we could really expect substantive progress since from a Cypriot point of view that would probably facilitate the administration’s effort to get the Turkish embargo lifted. Kyprianou said he could have refused to do anything until the embargo question was out of the way but instead put forward the Ecevit meeting idea as a means to achieve a breakthrough. He felt a responsibility to all of the people of Cyprus not to miss any opportunities.

11. The Secretary said he commended this positive attitude. We wanted to see the embargo lifted since we felt that was important for NATO, our relations with Turkey and offered the best chance to move forward on Cyprus. Kyprianou said he disagreed with that assessment and feared that if the embargo were lifted we would later regret it.

12. In response to a question from Nimetz on what specifically would come out of a bilateral meeting with Ecevit, Kyprianou said he would go with open mind and with no fixed ideas in order to find out what Ecevit really had in mind. The Secretary said he would expect that agreement would be reached that there was sufficient opportunity for progress to resume the intercommunal talks. Kyprianou said the Turks might abandon their April proposals or do something else to allow resumption of talks. He wanted to find something to justify new talks. Rolandis interjected that if Ecevit was not prepared to accept a true federation there was no sense in proceeding. Secretary said he thought Ecevit did believe in a federal solution. The Turkish side was prepared to talk on the basis of the Makarios-Denktash principles. He urged again that Kyprianou consider a three-way meeting with Denktash present which did not necessarily preclude his participating as President of Cyprus.

13. Rolandis said he understood the problem of excluding Denktash and said he liked the idea of the Secretary General organizing an affair at which there could be a private conversation with Ecevit. Perhaps the Secretary General could invite the President of Cyprus and the Prime Minister of Turkey and their advisers to such an occasion. The Secretary said he thought the key point was to find a way which would lead to resumed intercommunal talks.

14. Rolandis asked if Ecevit would accept such an invitation from Waldheim. Nimetz said he was somewhat more pessimistic than the [Page 196] Secretary since, on the basis of his conversations with the Turks, he thought the most they would accept would be an initial Kyprianou-Denktash meeting, agreement that intercommunal talks should resume, and then a tripartite meeting to include Ecevit. The Secretary said that Kyprianou’s statement in Chicago had complicated and made more difficult arranging a meeting with Ecevit, since it seemed to support the Turkish claim that Kyprianou was anxious to discredit Denktash.

15. Rolandis asked whether the Secretary thought it might be preferable if he tried to arrange to meet with Foreign Minister Okcun. The Secretary replied that he would not rule out such an idea although there would be a problem if a Turkish Cypriot rep were excluded.

16. Kyprianou said he appreciated the Secretary’s deep interest in the Cyprus problem. He and the Secretary then met briefly in private while Foreign Minister Rolandis, Counselor Nimetz, and others talked further in a separate room.5 Nimetz emphasized again that it would be very difficult to arrange any high level meeting after the weekend of June 3–4 when Ecevit and others left the United States. He hoped that the parties could begin discussing substantive questions rather than just various meeting possibilities. He asked whether any thought had been given to just what specifically would come out of a meeting with Ecevit. Rolandis thought that improved rapport between Kyprianou and Ecevit might allow discovery of a new basis for resuming negotiations.

17. At the Secretary’s request, Nimetz and Ewing subsequently met with Elekdag and Tulumen. Nimetz said in our view a quadripartite meeting was not possible and suggested that the Turks consider further whether a tripartite meeting with a specific purpose could be arranged, perhaps at the invitation of the Secretary General. We thought such a meeting was important and could be productive. Elekdag said that GOT still regarded a Kyprianou-Denktash meeting as the proper first step, but they would consider further the tripartite meeting possibility.

18. Elekdag said that at a June 2 reception at the Turkish Embassy Waldheim had told Ecevit he was thinking of arranging an informal social gathering June 4 to which Ecevit, Kyprianou, Karamanlis, and Denktash would be invited, along with their wives. Ecevit said he would attend. At such a gathering he assumed there could be appropriate bilateral conversations. Elekdag said he understood Waldheim had made a similar proposal to Kyprianou, who had not responded until earlier that morning when Ecevit was in a meeting with Wald[Page 197]heim. Kyprianou had telephoned Waldheim to say he could not accept such an invitation and had asked to speak on the telephone with Ecevit. Elekdag had taken the phone and had talked with Kyprianou. He had stressed that Ecevit did not want to denigrate Kyprianou nor could he discredit Denktash. Kyprianou had then talked again with Waldheim and had undertaken to consider the idea further and to call Waldheim from Boston later in the day.

  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; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Ewing; cleared by Vest, Anderson, and Arthur Houghton (S); approved by Nimetz. Sent for information Priority to Athens and Ankara; and to USUN, London, Brussels, USNATO, and USNMR SHAPE.
  2. See Document 54.
  3. Kyprianou spent his time in Washington giving interviews to the press and appearing before congressional panels to make the case that intransigence on the Turkish Cypriot side and the likely lifting of the U.S. arms embargo against Turkey would doom the possibility of a Cyprus settlement. These activities are described in telegram 146669 to Nicosia, June 9. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780241–1134)
  4. No record of this meeting has been found.
  5. No record of this meeting has been found.