56. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • Telephone Conversation between President Carter and President Kyprianou of Cyprus

President Kyprianou had called from New York. After exchange of greetings and regrets at not being able to meet personally, President Kyprianou said he wished to assure President Carter that “despite whatever differences we may have, I would like to consider you as a friend.” President Carter replied that he had enjoyed being with him at their last meeting.2 He said that he felt it was very important to get the intercommunal talks going again and that he hoped President Kyprianou would do everything possible to achieve this result.

President Kyprianou replied that he had been doing a great deal during the past few weeks but that he still believed that a meeting between Ecevit and himself would have been the best way to find common ground. “I offered to meet him in my personal capacity—I think he wanted to do it—but other people advised him against it.” The President replied that we had urged Ecevit to meet “with you and Denktaş, with Denktaş and Karamanlis or whatever combination could be worked out.” President Kyprianou countered, “The other formulas would not have worked—but a private meeting between me and Ecevit [Page 198]would have been much more useful.” President Carter observed that such a meeting would have been an insinuation that Denktaş was not qualified to speak on his own and this was a political problem for Ecevit. President Kyprianou said he would have been ready to meet Ecevit in his capacity as President of the Republic of Cyprus, as recognized by the entire world, and Denktaş could have participated in the meeting as representative of the Turkish-Cypriot community—“but they rejected that also.”

President Carter said that he had found Ecevit much more forthcoming than his predecessor. “I believe he genuinely wants to reach a settlement. I know the Turkish proposals are not acceptable to you and we agree that they do not go far enough but they are a basis for discussion. We will use our good offices as best we can and I hope your statements will be adequate to keep things going.” President Kyprianou replied, “As the leader of a small country under occupation, I need to be strengthened with my own public opinion.” “All of us face that problem,” President Carter observed, reminding President Kyprianou that we recognized this need and saying that he believed Secretary Vance had made that clear to him in the last few days. President Kyprianou said he greatly appreciated the time Secretary Vance and other American officials had given him during recent weeks. “I hate to bother you,” he said to President Carter; “you have so many problems.” He suggested a meeting in September when he will return to the UN.3

President Carter said he looked forward to a possible meeting then but he hoped that meanwhile we could work together closely and exploit every opportunity for progress. President Kyprianou said he hoped in September it might be possible for him to meet with Ecevit. President Carter replied, “I hope we do not have to wait that long—you and I and Ecevit can be working together before that time to get talks going.” President Kyprianou commented on his views of the arms embargo, enquiring whether Secretary Vance had explained to the President what his (i.e. Kyprianou’s) position was. President Carter said Secretary Vance had indeed explained this to him. “We have tried in good faith to derive some benefit from the embargo,” President Carter continued, “but for three years it has not worked—my belief is that the relationship between Greece and Turkey has not been helped and our own relations with both countries are not as good as they were before. It has maintained a wedge between Greece and Turkey and ourselves. It has not encouraged a settlement in Cyprus. I am sure that maintaining the embargo will continue the stalemate we have now.”

[Page 199]

President Kyprianou said he was frightened of the consequences of lifting the embargo.

President Carter assured President Kyprianou that regardless of the outcome of the vote in the Congress he was committed to working together toward a settlement in Cyprus.

President Kyprianou asked whether President Carter had received his photograph and thanked the President for his. President Carter said he had and thanked him. Both wished each other well and the conversation was concluded.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, VIP Visit File, Box 3, Cyprus, President Kyprianou, 10/6/78. Confidential. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Carter was in the Oval Office for this conversation. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials)
  2. See Document 45.
  3. Carter and Kyprianou met on October 6 in Washington. See Document 59.