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

33234. Subject: (C) Rolandis Call on Secretary and Nimetz.

1. (S-entire text).

2. Cyprus Foreign Minister Rolandis called on Secretary Vance on February 5. Rolandis was accompanied by Cyprus Ambassador Jacovides and GOC Foreign Ministry officer Strambos. Under Secretary-designate Nimetz and EUR/SE Director Dillery (notetaker) also sat in. Rolandis met separately with Nimetz following Secretary’s meeting.

3. Rolandis opened the conversation. He reported that he had met UNSG Waldheim February 4 and felt it was also expedient to meet the Secretary. He appreciated that Turkey is more important than Cyprus for the United States. However, he felt that if the Cyprus problem could be solved Greek-Turkish relations could be improved and U.S. and Western interests in the Eastern Mediterranean would be promoted. Rolandis said his job is made difficult by the fact that while Cyprus has basically a pro-Western society, support for the Cyprus position in world forums comes from other directions. It was this situation that caused Cyprus to abstain in the UNGA on the vote condemning the USSR for its action in Afghanistan.2

4. Rolandis said Waldheim hopes to have the talks start in March. He is considering a formula under which there would be three [Page 252] packages of four sessions of the negotiations. Each of the main subjects would be considered in each package: Varosha, goodwill measures, constitution, and territory. Each 4-day package would be followed by a period of 10 days for study and behind-the-scenes negotiation. Rolandis said he had accepted this concept. However, he believed that problems are never solved in plenary and that neither side will yield at the beginning of any discussions. Thus, it is important to do some preparatory work.

5. The FonMin continued that it is a requirement for the GOC that the Varosha issue be solved at the beginning of negotiations. He recognized that the Turkish Cypriots could not give Varosha up without some compensatory action at the beginning of the talks. General thinking had been that political concessions would be required to achieve this. The GOC cannot make such concessions.

6. In an effort to solve this problem, Rolandis said he had identified three possibilities: (1) the two sides might try to negotiate the reopening of Nicosia Airport;3 (2) the GOC could offer aid to the Turkish Cypriots to help the difficult economic situation in the north; (3) there could be joint ventures under United Nations organizations such as improvement of the electricity system, road development, telephone, etc. Rolandis thought the most practical of these ideas was the prospect of GOC aid for the Turkish Cypriots. Some of this could be in foreign exchange. This would be along the line of the part of the May 19 Agreement that calls for measures to display goodwill. It would also have a long term positive effect of reducing the differences in per capita GNP that now exist between the two communities.

7. The Secretary asked how difficult it would be to reopen Nicosia Airport. Rolandis replied it would be very difficult; questions of equality of staffing and passports would arise immediately. His general idea was that the United Nations could take the airport over and run it. Nimetz felt it would be almost as easy to solve the whole Cyprus problem as to open the airport because basic questions would arise immediately in airport negotiations. He noted that the Turkish Cypriots would not want to give up operating their own airport at Ercan. Rolandis concurred that opening Nicosia would take time.

8. Rolandis explained that these difficulties caused him to think of the aid proposal. He asked whether the United States could see if his aid proposal would be attractive in Ankara. He had mentioned it to Secretary-General Waldheim. The Secretary responded that the U.S. would be glad to try; he couldn’t promise what could be done.

9. The Secretary asked Nimetz for his view on whether we should raise this with Ambassador Elekdag or with Foreign Minister Erkmen. [Page 253] Nimetz responded that we would have to give some thought to this. The Secretary noted that Foreign Minister Erkmen is a decent, reasonable, experienced man and should be personally involved in the effort. Rolandis believed it would be better to make the approach to Erkmen.

10. Nimetz asked Rolandis how he thought Denktash would react to this proposal. Nimetz said Denktash has a strong hold on Turkish Cyprus policy at the moment. Rolandis concurred that Denktash has a good deal of power at the present time. He noted that Denktash recently has been making unfavorable statements. The only hope was that the economic problems which face the Turkish Cypriots might mean that Denktash would be attracted to the aid for Varosha proposal. He felt that Ankara could handle Denktash on this if the GOT really wished to do so.

11. Nimetz noted that with regard to Rolandis’ third proposal, the GOC previously had not made it easy for international organizations to work in the north of Cyprus. Would this attitude now change? Rolandis replied that it would have to. He said this is one of the important elements of the GOC’s current discussions with the EC on possible assistance for Cyprus.

12. The Secretary closed the meeting by saying he would think about how we might help promote Rolandis’ idea. It was agreed that we would give some reaction to Rolandis when Deputy Secretary Christopher meets him on February 7.4

13. Nimetz asked how we should handle the press on the visit. The Secretary noted that in his February 5 testimony before the HFAC he had said that the Cyprus problem remains; it is the only world problem that is as difficult as the Arab-Israeli situation.5 Rolandis said he would make a short statement that he had come to see the Secretary to report to him about his conversation with Waldheim. All agreed that any discussion of the Rolandis aid idea should be held as closely as possible.

14. In a later meeting with Under Secretary-designate Nimetz, Rolandis suggested that the aid money might be channeled through the Evkaf, a religious group in the north. That way Denktash could use it as he sees fit. Nimetz remarked that the plan has merit because it gives the Turkish Cypriots needed financial aid without political concessions on the part of the GOC.

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15. When asked what amount of money he had in mind, Rolandis mentioned dols 50 million as a realistic sum. He cautioned that he hadn’t thoroughly considered what the total amount should be and had yet to clear the figure with Kyprianou and the Cabinet. He said that, in any event, the money must not be a token amount and must be enough to begin to bring the island’s two economies closer to equality.

16. On the issue of resettlement of Varosha by Greek Cypriots, Rolandis said that a reopened Varosha would create jobs for hundreds of Turkish Cypriots. This, too, would improve the economic condition of the north. The reopened area of Varosha would have to be large enough to house 30–35 thousand Greek Cypriots.

17. Rolandis would also ask the “TFSC” to reopen the main road from Nicosia to Larnaca. While this is not a major concession, he said it would improve the political climate in the spirit of paragraph 5 of the May 19 Agreement.

18. Rolandis told Nimetz that the creation of a UNGA committee on Cyprus can be avoided if productive talks are started. He wanted the USG to know that the committee idea was not conceived to cause us discomfort. Once Kyprianou got started with promoting the idea, it became impossible to stop. Rolandis assured Nimetz that, should the committee idea come to fruition, the GOC will do everything it can to see that the membership is not objectionable to the U.S. In reply, Nimetz told the Foreign Minister that the U.S. understands the GOC’s need to take advantage of the U.N. cycle in making its case to the world. However, we still believe that the committee will be an impediment to real progress.

19. Before Rolandis left, Nimetz asked him if he wanted the financial assistance concept to be portrayed as a GOC or a Waldheim idea. Rolandis said that it should be portrayed as a Waldheim plan or the Turkish side will reject it immediately. Rolandis will telephone Waldheim February 6 to get his agreement to call this “the Waldheim Plan”. Nimetz agreed to discuss the idea further on February 7 when Rolandis meets with the Deputy Secretary.

20. Comment: We find the Rolandis proposal for aid to north Cyprus interesting because it does offer a new way to try to break the logjam preventing movement on the intercommunal negotiations. We are concerned about a number of points: It is not clear whether Rolandis has the full agreement with his government for the scheme. There would be numerable negotiating difficulties as regards the size of the area to be open, access, jurisdiction, etc. Nevertheless, we have committed ourselves to be as helpful as possible, and would appreciate Posts’ comments on the Rolandis idea and how we might promote it. End comment.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 17, Cyprus: 1/77–1/81. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Sent for information Immediate to Ankara, Athens, USUN, and the White House. Printed from a copy that indicates the original was received in the White House Situation Room. Drafted by Dillery and James E. Tobin (EUR/SE); cleared by Holmes, Tarnoff, John Nix (IO/UNP), and Seton Stapleton (S/S–O); approved by Nimetz. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, N800003–0057)
  2. Reference is to UN General Assembly Resolution ES–6/2, “The Situation in Afghanistan and its Implications for International Peace and Security,” adopted January 14 during a special emergency session of the General Assembly. The text of the resolution is in Yearbook of the United Nations, 1980, p. 307.
  3. The airport had been closed since August 16, 1974.
  4. The Department reported the meeting between Christopher and Rolandis in telegram 36271 to Nicosia, February 9. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, N800003–0204) Rolandis relayed that Denktash had rejected the UN’s latest proposal to resume intercommunal talks and that Rolandis was seeking Waldheim’s support to resume the negotiations.
  5. Vance’s testimony is in United States, Congress, House of Representatives, Hearings, Foreign Assistance Legislation for Fiscal Years 1980–81, Part 1, pp. 1–35. His statement is printed in the Department of State Bulletin, March 1980, pp. 40–43.