80. Telegram From Secretary of State Muskie to the Department of State1

Secto 8013. (U) Subject: Secretary’s Bilateral With Cyprus Foreign Minister Rolandis.

Summary. Secretary met with Cyprus Foreign Minister for 30 minutes September 23 at Secretary’s suite, UN Plaza Hotel, New York. Meeting entirely focused on Cyprus intercommunal negotiations and international consideration of Cyprus. Rolandis was accompanied by Cyprus UN Perm Rep Mavrommatis, Ambassador to the U.S. Jacovides, and his Special Assistant Shiampos. Secretary was accompanied by Under Secretary Nimetz, USUN Ambassador Petree, EUR DAS Ewing, and DeptOff Dillery (notetaker). End summary.

1. Meeting began with a short private session between Secretary and Rolandis. When rest of group joined, Secretary said he had been emphasizing to Rolandis the need to give and take on both sides to achieve progress in Cyprus talks. Any U.S. intervention would have to be done judiciously and with a careful eye to timing. He said we would stay in touch with GOC through Under Secretary Nimetz.

2. Nimetz noted that in our first communication with the new Turkish military authorities in Ankara on the day of the takeover our Ambassador had discussed Cyprus with then-Secretary General of the [Page 266] Turkish MFA Turkmen.2 We had emphasized need for Cyprus intercommunal talks to be forward going and sustained.

3. Secretary asked Rolandis if the first phase of the resumed intercommunal talks would be pro-forma. Rolandis explained the organization of the talks with four subjects to be discussed weekly in rotation. Two were subordinate and would be covered in the first two sessions: Varosha and confidence-building measures. The other two to be considered in the third and fourth sessions were more basic: constitution and territory. Rolandis noted it would take four weeks to complete a cycle, with the first cycle given to explanations. He thought the second cycle would be crucial as this would be when counter-proposals would be presented with possible sharp reactions. The Special Representative of the Secretary General would have to be very careful in this phase. If he got through it, however, and the dialogue was kept going, future cycles should be easier.

4. Rolandis said meeting of interlocutors on September 16 had been very good.3 The atmosphere was cordial. The Turkish Cypriots had said that they had come with the “will to find a way,” and they seemed to be serious about this.

5. Rolandis went on to express hope that “some countries including the U.S.” would help by influencing Turkey in the right way. He felt that the new military authorities in Ankara are in a position to take decisions on Cyprus because they do not have to cater to the small, extremist political parties. Further, he thought it would be easier for the army to “undo what was done in 1974” than it would be for any political party who could be accused of betrayal.

6. Rolandis said it was his government’s strong hope and belief that this time there is a chance. The GOC does not want to miss this opportunity. The GOC also believes that Secretary General Waldheim is determined to go for sustained talks. Rolandis had discussed intercommunal talks with Waldheim September 22. Rolandis said he hoped that the bad experience of the short-lived June 1979 talks will not be repeated. The GOC will be patient and will concentrate on the smallest positive points to keep the process going. It wanted to see the talks be sustained.

7. The GOC, Rolandis said, is deferring most if not all of its international activities in order to promote progress in the talks. It would [Page 267] adopt a low-profile approach. His address before the General Assembly would be carefully expressed but positive noting the talks and calling on all concerned to help the Secretary General. He would avoid mentioning that Cyprus is occupied by foreign troops. The GOC also will not pursue recourses in the Human Rights Commission, in Strasbourg and Geneva, and in ICAO as long as the talks continue. In short, the GOC intended to display good will and helpful to moderation. Rolandis repeated that the changed Turkish situation may improve resolution of the Cyprus problem and wondered whether the time was right for the USG to help to the degree it could.

8. The Secretary said he was very pleased with the constructive and flexible approach being taken by the GOC and hoped both sides would take this same approach. Patience is needed, he said, and we should measure progress in months, not days. He reiterated that we would be wise in our selection of the right time and method to use our influence.

9. Rolandis said that the GOL would always be receptive to any message from the Secretary or his associates. His government really wants a solution and is willing to consider any ideas. Cyprus is small; there is no reason why the whole population should not share in its prosperity.

10. Nimetz observed that the situation is better now than it has been in the three-and-one half years he has been following the issue. On tactics, Nimetz thought that the third cycle of considering the four subjects would be the most critical because the first would be largely the presentation of formal proposals and the second of formal counterproposals. The important thing, he said, was to get past the first real negotiating sessions with the mechanism of the talks intact. Nimetz noted that he had had lunch with Turkish Cypriots same day (Atakol and Alzlay being reported septel) and they expect the debate to be joined in the third round.4 Nimetz thought that at that point the UN and perhaps other outside help might be useful particularly if done quietly.

11. Rolandis said he had always considered that there were two fora: the plenary sessions themselves and SRSG Gobbi’s behind the scenes activities. He had always felt that the real problems could not be solved in plenary and thus the role of Gobbi was important. His private work will be important when one of the two sides is tempted to break off the talks because of unacceptable positions taken by the other.

12. Nimetz recalled that one idea had been to have working groups or sub-committees to get over the hard points. Rolandis noted that it [Page 268] had been agreed that these could be established. Rolandis said the GOC would keep the US fully informed through Ambassador Stone.

13. The Secretary closed the meeting by saying that he was delighted to get Rolandis’ briefing and as a result has a sense of cautious optimism about the Cyprus situation.

14. Correct any references to “GOL” to read “GOC” (Government of Cyprus).

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Subject Files of Edmund S. Muskie, 1963–1981, Lot 83D66, Box 2, unlabeled folder. Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Dillery; cleared by Vest and Mary Kennedy (S); approved by Raymond Seitz (S/S). Sent for information Immediate to USUN, Nicosia, Ankara, Athens, London, Bonn, Paris, and Ottawa. Attached but not printed is an October 7 covering memorandum from John H. Kelly (S/S–S) to L. Paul Bremer, III (S/S). Muskie was in New York for the 35th Session of the UN General Assembly.
  2. The Embassy reported this communication in telegram 6587 from Ankara, September 12. Turkmen assured Ambassador Spain that Turkey, under its new military government, remained committed to achieving a solution for the Cyprus dispute. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800435–0566)
  3. Another round of intercommunal talks had opened on August 9. See Yearbook of the United Nations, 1980, pp. 453–454.
  4. No record of this meeting was found.