81. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassies in Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, and the United Kingdom, and the Missions to the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization1

289947. Subject: (U) Cypriot Ambassador Jacovides Discussion With Under Secretary Nimetz. Refs: A) Nicosia 2644 B) Nicosia 2665 C) Nicosia 2660 D) State 282387.2

1. (C-entire text)

2. Summary: Under Secretary Matthew Nimetz met with Cypriot Ambassador Andrew Jacovides on October 24 for a tour d’horizon encompassing the intercommunal talks and the role that may be played by Greece and Turkey, Cypriot domestic politics, and US aid to Cyprus. End summary.

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3. Jacovides opened the discussion with a brief review of the intercommunal talks. He was mildly critical of the “orchestrated” Turkish Cypriot press stories on the Greek Cypriot territorial proposal suggesting that this kind of story suggested “bad faith” in revealing to the press the details of a confidential negotiation. If the Turkish Cypriots didn’t like the GOC proposal, they should present their own. In conclusion, however, both negotiators had been making fairly positive statements and the course of the negotiations could best be described as “so far, so good”.

4. Following this line, Jacovides remarked upon Denktash’s visit to Ankara and his “unnecessary” departure statement (Ref A and B). He observed that most recognize it would be in Turkish interest to do something positive on Cyprus and that FM Turkmen is a known and positive quality. Nevertheless, Jacovides noted nothing is known about what the Turks might do and consequently he asked if the US had any information that would make the GOC feel “more comfortable”.

5. Nimetz responded that in both the content and tone of discussions about Cyprus, the Turks have given us reason to believe they are interested in solving the problem. We do not expect great leaps in policy but Ankara has been able to face up to tough decisions. Progress has been made on the economy and political terrorism and Nimetz hoped the same philosophy would be applied to the Cyprus problem. Nimetz noted—and stressed its applicability to the GOC as well—that the US had been emphasizing that problem solving brings political benefits. He commented that too many countries see only the disadvantages of problem solving. Nimetz concluded that Ankara wants the negotiations to continue and was prepared to give Denktash a push as necessary.

6. DAS Ewing suggested that the timing of Denktash’s visit to Ankara was interesting as the parties were reaching a stage where future positions would have to be developed. Jacovides suggested the third sequence of meetings would be particularly important. Nimetz suggested making a more cautious judgement as both communities were now locked into positions. He recalled that negotiations often are lengthy and that discussions outside the main meetings often provide the keys to progress. He suggested consequently that he would not be pessimistic if the third round of meetings was not particularly eventful. It was, Nimetz concluded, too much to expect fresh concessions in the third round.

7. Responding to a question by Nimetz on the effect of Greek reintegration on the talks, Jacovides was mildly positive. He noted that Rallis as well as Mitsotakis had explicitly stated that reintegration would lead to progress on the Cyprus problem. In the GOC statement (Ref C), Nicosia had carefully not said that the effects would be positive [Page 270] but (resisting the negative proposals of AKEL and EDEK) taken the line that reintegration was Athens’ decision and that the GOC hoped for continued Greek support.

8. Nimetz suggested that reintegration was a major step. The improved atmosphere between Greece and Turkey would make it easier to solve problems. Recalling that a wide variety of US-Turkey problems had been resolved, Nimetz noted that Cyprus was one of the few remaining and consequently focus on the issue would heighten.

9. Jacovides cautioned that protracted intercommunal discussions would foster the belief that the talks were being used to evade action in international fora. He observed that it was clear which side (the GOC) was more damaged by inconclusive dialogue and that the GOC would have problems regaining international attention and momentum if the talks did not develop. Still Jacovides observed that factors in several areas e.g., Greek elections, Middle East turmoil could have a positive effect on the talks. Progress on Cyprus could help Rallis’ electoral position against the left and difficulty in the Middle East suggests the efficacy of a strong NATO and hence settling intra Alliance problems such as Cyprus. Jacovides hoped, however, there would be no slackening of US efforts on the Cyprus issue.

10. Recalling earlier US efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem and regretting its difficult nature, Nimetz assured Jacovides that Cyprus is on the US agenda and that we have every intention of working for a solution of the problem. In the course of comments on President Carter’s Cyprus statement (Ref D), Nimetz recalled that both the rule of law and geopolitical realities suggested the need to resolve the Cyprus problem. Not even a cynic would suggest that Greece and Turkey could cooperate peacefully without solving the Cyprus problem.

11. In response to Nimetz’s question on the effects of recent domestic developments on the talks, Jacovides stated that the key government figures and all political parties with the possible exception of EDEK are committed to the talks. Consequently, Kyprianou would not be hindered in decision making if the Turkish Cypriots made a “just and reasonable” proposal. He recalled that in 1977 Makarios had made proposals even though the Turkish Government appeared weak and that Ankara should not be misled by the appearance of domestic disarray in Nicosia to avoid forthcoming proposals. Nimetz stated that this point could be useful in conversation with Ankara.

12. Turning to the question of refugee aid for Cyprus, Jacovides made a strong case for continued US assistance. He said he understood the US Embassy opposed further assistance but he stressed the political utility of completing the half-finished refugee rehousing program. If refugees were suitably rehoused there would be less pressure to return to property in the north. Thus while the GOC would not give up the [Page 271] “principle” that all refugees must be permitted to return, the reality of situation would ease negotiations. Jacovides also urged that the administration support the refugee program and not be viewed as opposing congressional funding. The money would be well used, benefitted Turkish Cypriots as well, and actually should be adjusted upward to account for inflation. Administration support for refugee aid would strengthen the image of the USG in Nicosia as concerned about the Cyprus problem and consequently have a positive effect on the intercommunal talks.

13. In response Nimetz noted Jacovides’ effective, comprehensive presentation but recalled the wide variety of pressing refugee problems worldwide e.g., Southeast Asia, Afghanistan, Somalia. While recognizing that aid for Cyprus was a reaffirmation that the political problem posed by the island had not ended, Nimetz stated that the case for Cyprus refugee relief was less persuasive each year and harder to argue vis-a-vis competing refugee needs.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800519–0184. Confidential. Drafted by Jones; cleared by Dillery and Giese; approved by Nimetz.
  2. In telegram 2644 from Nicosia, October 23, the Embassy reported on Denktash’s critical reaction to Carter’s recent statement that Cyprus was a problem to solve following the reintegration of Greece into NATO. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800506–0861) According to telegram 2633 from Nicosia, October 22, Carter made the statement before a group of Greek Americans. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800504–1044) Carter’s remarks were made on October 20 in New York; see Public Papers: Carter 1980, Book III, p. 2369. In telegram 2660 from Nicosia, October 24, the Embassy reported on the Cypriot Government’s negative reaction to the reintegration of the Greek military command in NATO. The reintegration triggered large-scale protests staged by Greek Cypriots in Larnaca and Nicosia. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800508–0395) Telegram 2665 from Nicosia, October 24, and telegram 282387 to Nicosia, October 22, are in the National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800509–0529 and D800505–0902, respectively.