68. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Summary of the President’s Meeting with Archbishop Chrysostomos


  • President Jimmy Carter
  • Mike Chanin, Deputy Assistant to the President
  • Phil Spector, Associate Assistant to the President
  • Robert Hunter, NSC Staff Member
  • Archbishop Chrysostomos
  • Ambassador Nicos Dimitriou, Cypriot Ambassador to the United States
  • Andros Nicolaides, Minister, Cypriot Embassy
  • Archbishop Iakovos, Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of North and South America

Photo session.

The President said he was happy to see Archbishop Iakovos.

Archbishop Iakovos replied that they are good friends, and the President has his prayers.

The President said that he needs his prayers and help.

Archbishop Iakovos thanked the President for his role in Cyprus. His Beatitude is here to express the gratitude of the Cypriot people.2

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Archbishop Chrysostomos said that they know well American history, and that the American people have fought for the freedom and independence of other nations. The Cypriot people know the American tradition of liberalism. They know the President’s own declarations on human rights, especially concerning Cyprus.

The President said yes.

Archbishop Chrysostomos said that this was the reason, after the President’s election, he offered to bring the best wishes of the people of Cyprus. They rejoiced over the President’s election. This is a tragic situation for the people of Cyprus, who are submerged under Turkish occupation. He asks: what will the U.S. do to help the situation. The President has a religious mind, and believes in Christ. In the whole Middle East, Christianity is in danger from the Moslems. Cyprus is the only Middle East country where Christians are in the great majority. He appeals to the President’s Christian conscience to act to help his Christian brothers in Cyprus to regain their human rights. They ask only freedom and justice. The approach of the United States to Cyprus’ problems is not what they expect. They know that Turkey depends on the U.S. The U.S. needs to pressure Turkey to withdraw its troops from Cyprus. The people of Cyprus believe that the U.S. had the power to prevent their going there; and believe the U.S. has the power to stop the invasion, and to urge Turkey to withdraw its troops.

The President said that their goals are the same: withdrawal of Turkish troops; to see Cyprus united; to see peace restored; and to see all Cypriot peoples have their human rights. Yet the Archbishop overestimates the ability of the United States to move Turkey. However, he promises to try to bring about these goals.

The President (laughing) agreed. They must struggle together.

Archbishop Chrysostomos said that their duties are imposed by Christian belief.

The President thanked the Archbishop. (There was then the presentation of gifts. The President said, on receiving a book on Cyprus, that he would like to see it for himself; Archbishop Chrysostomos said that he would be welcome. He also presented a letter from some Greek prisoners in Turkey, and asked the President’s help).3

The President said they should work together to achieve their common goals.

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Archbishop Chrysostomos asked what message the President had for the people of Cyprus.

The President answered that we share their goals of a unified Cyprus, the withdrawal of Turkish troops, the ability of people to return to their homes, and the restoration of human rights.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 9, Cyprus: 1/78–5/79. Confidential. Hunter forwarded a copy to Brzezinski on May 23. (Ibid.) The meeting took place in the Oval Office.
  2. Although he succeeded Makarios as Archbishop of Cyprus in November 1977, Chrysostomos did not assume Makarios’ political authority. The meeting with Carter occurred over the objections of NSC Staff member Paul Henze, who asserted in a May 21 memorandum to Brzezinski that Chrysostomos’ “hardline” position against Turkish Cypriot and Turkish interests would complicate matters just at the time when Kyprianou and Denktash had agreed to more talks. Henze also questioned the political value of a meeting: “The number of Greek-American votes likely to be gained from a Presidential ‘photo session’ with Chrysostomos is infinitesimal. If Greek Americans find, however, that they can hold the President hostage (and get him to reverse a stand) in maneuvers such as this, they can be relied upon to aid and abet more of them.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, Horn/Special, Box 3, 5/79) In mid-April, the CIA first reported that Chrysostomos sought a meeting with Carter, and that he would press for U.S. support of a unified Cypriot state under Greek Cypriot rule. (Central Intelligence Agency, CADRE System No. C03338732)
  3. Not found.