61. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassies in Cyprus, Turkey, and Greece1

288157. Subject: Cyprus Initiative: Nimetz Meetings on November 10 With Michaelides/Rolandis, Denktash, and Secretary-General Waldheim.

1. Department Counselor Nimetz met in New York with GOC House of Representatives President Michaelides and Foreign Minister Rolandis at 10:15 A.M. on November 10 and submitted to them our non-paper on a framework for a Cyprus settlement. Nimetz was accompanied by EUR/SE Cyprus Desk Officer Chapman. Meeting took place at Harvard Club since Rolandis/Michaelides did not wish to inform or involve other members of inter-party delegation attending UNGA. By way of introduction Nimetz made the same general points as in para 2, State 284954, emphasizing that the non-paper represented a very delicate balance and that we did not want to engage in any pre-negotiations on it.2 Michaelides and Rolandis read through the paper quickly, with Nimetz offering specific comments on each paragraph. Neither of the Cypriots raised any immediate objections to particular features of the paper, and seemed quite pleased at the territorial formula and at the provisions for resettlement of Varosha. They undertook to study it very carefully, to discuss it with President Kyprianou, and to be in touch with us again very shortly. Rolandis suggested a fur[Page 215]ther meeting early next week. All present were in full agreement that the paper should be held very closely.

2. Michaelides said that the GOC had been giving considerable thought as to the level and working procedures of future intercommunal negotiations. If indeed the two sides were able to return to the table, the GOC would want to negotiate on a serious and sustained basis and he—Michaelides—would probably be the chief negotiator, assisted by a moderately-sized team. However, this would be possible only if the Turkish Cypriots were also prepared to appoint a higher level negotiator. Michaelides agreed with Nimetz that for the sake of efficiency and speed negotiating sub-groups could be formed to discuss territory, specific constitutional aspects, return of displaced persons, etc.

3. The GOC request for a Security Council meeting on the Cyprus issue was discussed at some length. Both Michaelides and Rolandis characterized resort to the Council as an unfortunate necessity, and explained it principally in terms of domestic political needs. They averred that they were interested in having only a brief session which would adopt a resolution reaffirming previous UNGA and UNSC resolutions on Cyprus and would request the Secretary-General to report to the Council within a specified time on the progress achieved in implementing these resolutions. Rolandis explained further that the GOC intent was to extract the political content from the semi-annual debate and resolution on renewal of the UNFICYP mandate, so that this essentially procedural step could be taken in the future without the kind of difficulties that were experienced last June. There would then be semi-annual SYG reports (and presumably SC meetings) on the implementation of U.N. resolutions; and separate semi-annual reports on UNFICYP operations.

4. Nimetz noted that we had all along considered recourse to the Security Council to be unnecessary and possibly detrimental to the prospects for negotiation. However, since the GOC seemed determined to go ahead—and Rolandis confirmed that this was so—our aim would be to get the debate over as quickly as possible and to ensure that whatever resolution was passed would contribute to a resumption of negotiations. Nimetz said that we would be prepared to work with the GOC and others to develop a resolution that achieved these ends. In light of the Varosha SC experience in the fall of 1977,3 we were genuinely concerned that Security Council consideration of the issue could drag on [Page 216] for several weeks—with possibly serious consequences. Rolandis hypothesized that if both sides were prepared to accept the non-paper immediately, then Waldheim could perhaps be asked early next week to request the parties to postpone Security Council consideration of the Cyprus item on the grounds that his contacts with the parties were bearing fruit and that he was now prepared to put some specific ideas before them. This would give the GOC a way to back out gracefully. Michaelides was somewhat dubious about such a scheme, noting that it would give rise to much speculation in Cyprus and might not satisfy public opinion. While on this theme, Michaelides noted that the negative U.S. vote on operative paragraph 8 of the GA Resolution had been the principal news item in the Greek Cypriot press that day, and had given rise to across-the-board anti-American commentaries.4

5. At noon Nimetz met with Turkish Cypriot leader Denktash (at USUN) and submitted to him the Cyprus non-paper. Denktash was accompanied by New York Rep Atalay; Nimetz by Chapman and USUN officer Hirsch. At subsequent luncheon hosted by Denktash former Turkish UN Rep Turkmen was also present. By way of introductory remarks Nimetz drew on the general points in para 2, State 284952, emphasizing that the non-paper did not constitute an “American plan,” that we were asking the two Cypriot parties to accept it only as a basis for further intercommunal negotiations, and that its existence and the present U.S. role should remain strictly confidential. Nimetz also stressed our belief that a just and durable solution to the Cyprus problem could be achieved only through free, direct negotiations between representatives of the two communities, and that the role of outsiders should be confined solely to stimulating a resumption of this process.

6. After a cursory reading of the non-paper, Denktash said that he could only comment as Sir Winston Churchill reportedly did upon hearing of a military catastrophe—“Is that so? Fetch me a scotch-and-water.” This was no more than the Greek Cypriot position artfully camouflaged; he could not envisage Kyprianou having any difficulty with a single sentence. He was particularly worried at mention of the 1960 Constitution, which he had repeatedly said was unacceptable to the Turkish Cypriot side as a basis for negotiation. Denktash said that his existing authority from the “TFSC” Assembly was to work for a bizonal, bicommunal federal system within the Makarios-Denktash [Page 217] Guidelines. Since he was now being asked to accept a non-paper that represented an amalgamation of the Guidelines and the 1960 Constitution, he would accordingly be obliged to consult with Orek, the Cabinet and the Assembly before he could provide us with a response. Such wide-ranging consultations would make it near-impossible to maintain the necessary secrecy. He predicted that, in any case, the Greek Cypriots would leak the paper very quickly.

7. Nimetz said that the non-paper represented no more than an extension and elaboration of the basic Makarios-Denktash instructions, and was in no way incompatible with them. He recalled that Denktash himself had previously acknowledged that elements of the old constitution could be effectively utilized in drawing up the new. Since the whole power structure would be very different in the future, the Turkish Cypriots should have no fear that they would be denied basic rights and privileges embodied in the 1960 document. Nimetz then went through the non-paper with Denktash in detail, drawing on the points in para 3, State 284952, and demonstrating that essential Turkish Cypriot interests were safeguarded at each and every juncture.5 He asked Denktash to look beyond the wording and the rhetoric, and to analyze carefully the meaning of each specific provision of the paper. Aside from complaining that the constitutional court system established in 1960 had never worked, Denktash offered no further specific comments on the paper. However, he undertook to give it “real thought” and to be back in touch with us. Nimetz said that we had received the impression that the Greek Cypriots were genuinely interested in negotiating seriously and on a continuous basis towards a settlement. They were giving serious consideration to appointing Michaelides as chief interlocutor, if this elevation of the negotiating level were matched on the Turkish Cypriot side.

8. In ensuing discussion of the GOC request for UNSC consideration of the Cyprus issue, Nimetz said that the Greek Cypriots had told us they were interested in having only a brief Council session and that they had their sights on what they saw as a mild resolution. For our part, we would like to see UNSC consideration of the issue finished as quickly as possible, and our strategy would be geared towards encouraging a resumption of the intercommunal talks—or at least preventing the erection of any further obstacles to this. Denktash, clearly dispirited at the twin “blows” of the UNGA outcome and the upcoming SC debate, said that his chief preoccupation was to get the whole business [Page 218] finished quickly so that he could return to Cyprus. He was afraid, however, that the Greek Cypriots would try to drag things out indefinitely. Denktash added that the harsh GA Resolution and immediate recourse to the Security Council were hardly indicative of a readiness on the Greek Cypriot part to enter into serious face-to-face negotiations.6

9. Nimetz subsequently met with Secretary-General Waldheim and Under Secretary-General Urquhart, with Secretariat officer Sherry also present. Nimetz took note of the several approaches that had been made in New York and elsewhere that day, and commented briefly on the initial reactions of Rolandis and Michaelides and of Denktash. He said that our purpose had not been to put forward a paper that both sides would endorse with enthusiasm, but simply one that they would agree to accept as a basis for resumed intercommunal negotiations under U.N. auspices. Once both parties had indicated their acceptance we would communicate this to the Secretary General, in the hope that he would then convoke a meeting between Kyprianou and Denktash and formally present the paper to them as a framework for talks. Nimetz noted that we had had to overcome resistance from both sides in undertaking this effort. The Turks had repeatedly told us they wanted no outside initiative and had expressed the belief that Kyprianou would come around if given time and less attention; the Greek Cypriots, for their part, had wanted us to delay until after the UNSC meeting on Cyprus was over. We had told the Turks that their approach was simply inadequate and that some positive effort was needed if there were to be negotiations; and with the Greek Cypriots we had insisted that we could wait no longer.

10. Waldheim said that he would not hesitate to convoke a Kyprianou-Denktash meeting, under this scenario, so as to reach agreement on the basic framework for negotiation. While noting that much work remained to be done, he endorsed our basic approach to the problem. Waldheim sketched the difficulties he faced in convening negotiations unless he was assured that something positive would result from them. Last spring he had taken the Turkish Cypriot proposals to Nicosia and had met with a wall of resistance from Kyprianou, who had privately told him that he would not send a delegation even if the Secretary General called for a new round of talks. Waldheim said that he could not have risked so outright a Greek Cypriot rebuff. However, now that the Turkish arms embargo debate was over there would seem to be no valid reason for Kyprianou to resist a further effort to restart the intercommunal negotiations, and he surely could not object to a face-to-face meeting with Denktash if only because Makarios had done [Page 219] this. Nimetz said that Greek Cypriot plans to raise the level of their negotiator—if this was matched on the Turkish Cypriot side—seemed to indicate that they were serious about entering into a sustained and productive dialogue. Waldheim noted that he had also been told by the Greek Cypriots that Michaelides might be the new negotiator, and recalled that he had on several occasions in the past encouraged both sides to raise the level of their interlocutors. He added that he could not personally be present while intercommunal negotiations were in progress, but would leave someone else in charge.

11. Waldheim read through the paper quickly, with Nimetz commenting on certain of the more important provisions. The Secretary General said that some of the ideas incorporated into it, such as the Agency for Regional Cooperation and Coordination, sounded familiar. The area of Varosha to be opened for resettlement was in fact quite similar to that he had himself suggested at one time. Nimetz commented generally that the non-paper was an expansion of the Makarios-Denktash Guidelines, a restatement at the next level of specificity. It was a balanced document that did not prejudice the position of either side, and it was our intention to press for its integral acceptance without engaging in pre-negotiations.

12. Waldheim expressed the hope that the upcoming Security Council consideration of the Cyprus issue would not disrupt this initiative. He noted that he had twice sought to discourage Rolandis from having recourse to the Council. On the first occasion, Rolandis had seemed to agree that this would be unwise, but then he had come back to say that a formal decision had been taken in Cyprus and that public opinion there expected some Security Council action. Further approaches would no doubt meet with the same response, and did not therefore seem worthwhile. Waldheim noted that much would depend on the nature of the resolution the Greek Cypriots were able to obtain, although given the Security Council configuration this could not but be a relatively mild one. In response to the Secretary General’s query as to the timing of further moves, Nimetz estimated that it might take the parties perhaps a week or two to reach a decision on the non-paper. We had urged them to move quickly, but at the same time to analyze the non-paper with due care. While agreeing that we should not wait too long, Waldheim expressed doubt as to whether a resumption of negotiations would be practically possible before next January or February, with the UNFICYP renewal debate in the Security Council and the Christmas holidays coming up very soon.

13. Waldheim assured us that he would hold the non-paper in the strictest confidence: only he, Urquhart and Sherry would know about it. In concluding the meeting, he urged that we continue to stress to both parties that this effort is aimed at no more than bringing about a [Page 220] resumption of talks in the established intercommunal forum. The Turkish side, as we were no doubt well aware, was very concerned that our plan was to abandon this framework in favor of a more direct U.S. role.

14. In a separate conversation, Sherry confirmed that the GOC intent in the Security Council was to request a resolution recalling previous GA and SC resolutions and asking that the Secretary General report to the Council twice a year on progress made in their implementation. Urquhart and Sherry both emphasized that such a requirement for periodic reports would make sustained and serious negotiations very difficult.

15. Comment: Waldheim is already required to report to the Security Council twice a year in connection with semi-annual renewals of UNFICYP. We do not rpt not believe requiring second series of reports by Waldheim would have effect of de-politicizing UNFICYP debate, as Rolandis claimed. To the contrary, probable result would be four Waldheim reports a year and four Security Council meetings, in which inevitable polemics could adversely affect chances for successful negotiations—Greek Cypriots probably want to use these meetings to keep the pressure upon the Turks.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Office of the Deputy Secretary Warren Christopher, 1977–1980, Lot 81D113, Box 6, Cyprus File. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Chapman; cleared by Ewing, Sharon Ahmad (EUR), Thomas G. Martin (S/S–O) and in IO/UNP; approved by Nimetz. Sent for information Immediate to Bonn, London, Ottawa, Paris, and USUN.
  2. In telegram 284954 to Nicosia, November 9, the Department instructed Stone to give Kyprianou a “non-paper,” drafted in coordination with the United Kingdom and Canada, as a possible basis for resumed intercommunal talks. The paper would also be submitted to Denktash in New York on the same confidential basis in which Kyprianou was to receive it. Stone was also instructed to tell Kyprianou that, while some elements might be unacceptable the paper, taken as a whole, would serve as a “valid point of departure.” Once the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots accepted this framework, Waldheim would then formally present the paper to the negotiators from their respective communities. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780462–0291) The “non-paper” outlined a conceptual framework to address the disputed issues on Cyprus, including the following provisions: a “bicommunal federal state with two constituent regions,” each of which would be inhabited primarily by Greek Cypriots in one region and Turkish Cypriots in the other; a new constitutional structure and a government system consisting of a central authority as well as regional institutions; and the withdrawal of non-Cypriot armed forces from the island. (Memorandum from Nimetz to Christopher, October 23; National Archives, RG 59, Records of the Office of the Deputy Secretary Warren Christopher, 1977–1980, Lot 81D113, Box 6, Cyprus File)
  3. UN Security Council Resolution 414 was adopted on September 15, 1977, after a complaint by the Cypriot Government concerning the Turkish plan to re-colonize Varosha in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus. The resolution called on both parties to refrain from unilateral actions and to resume negotiations.
  4. Paragraph 8 of General Assembly Resolution 33/15, adopted on November 9, called for the Security Council to examine the timely implementation of all UN Cyprus resolutions and recommend appropriate action to ensure their implementation. The United States abstained in the vote on the resolution because of that provision, on the grounds that it would not promote an atmosphere conducive to negotiations. See Yearbook of the United Nations, 1978, pp. 383–384.
  5. In telegram 284952 to Ankara, November 9, the Department emphasized that the United States expected both the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots to commit to sustained and earnest negotiations, and that the framework allowed the Turkish Cypriots “a significant voice in national affairs and fully protects their essential interests.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780462–0287)
  6. Reference is to General Assembly Resolution 33/15 of November 9. See footnote 4 above.