U.S. Department of State
Vol. X, Part 1, FRUS, 1958-60: E. Europe Region; Soviet Union; Cyprus
Office of the Historian
[Section 19 of 19]
AUGUST - DECEMBER 1960: INITIAL U.S. RELATIONS WITH THE REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS
356. Editorial Note
On July 29, the British Parliament enacted a bill empowering the Government of the United Kingdom to grant independence to Cyprus. The Republic of Cyprus came into existence on August 16 with the signature in Nicosia of the Cypriot constitution by representatives of the United Kingdom, Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus. A treaty of alliance among Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus was signed the same day together with a Treaty of Guarantees and a Treaty of Establishment signed by the United Kingdom, Greece, Turkey, and Cyprus. The Governments of the United Kingdom and Cyprus also exchanged notes outlining their agreement on the future of British bases on the island. For texts of these treaties, see Cyprus, Cmd. 1093 (London, 1960) and Treaty Concerning the Establishment of the Republic of Cyprus, Cmd. 1252 (London, 1960).
The United States recognized the new Republic on August 16 and announced that the Consulate General was being raised to the status of Embassy effective that date. L. Douglas Heck was appointed charge d'Affaires ad interim. Simultaneously, President Eisenhower nominated Fraser Wilkins as Ambassador to Cyprus. Wilkins' nomination was confirmed by the Senate on August 27. The new Ambassador arrived in Cyprus on September 16 and presented his credentials to President Makarios on September 19.
357. Editorial Note
The Operations Coordinating Board met on September 2 to discuss the first semiannual appraisal of policy toward Cyprus under NSC 6003. The OCB concurred with the conclusions of its Working Group on Cyprus that "there has not been sufficient opportunity to assess" the validity of U.S. policy toward Cyprus and concluded that no review of Cyprus policy was called for at that time. A copy of the OCB Semiannual Appraisal of Policy on Cyprus, September 2, is in Department of State, OCB Files: Lot 62 D 430, Cyprus.
358. Telegram From the Embassy in Cyprus to the Department of State
Nicosia, September 28, 1960, 4 p.m.
161. Cyprus nearing end of third drought year, with serious deficit in wheat, barley, and corn. 35,000 tons purchased to finish 1960 and reserves will be exhausted by May 61. If winter crop fails, situation will become critical. Figures re final collections and imports for this year and estimate needs for 1961 expected shortly. We tentatively estimate Cyprus needs additional 40,000 tons during next few months.
We believe situation merits assistance under title II, PL 480 (Department's A - 53 May 16)./1/ Farmers' funds exhausted; banks and cooperatives refusing credit; moratorium on sale farmland being considered by Cypriot legislature. Farmers' families, baffled and touched by hunger, turning to GOC for help. Farmers being given seed. Possible budgetary deficit complicates import further wheat.
//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 880A.49/9 - 2860. Confidential. Repeated to Ankara, Athens, and London.
/1/Airgram 53 to Nicosia outlined procedures for requesting aid under Title II of P.L. 480 and the legal requirements for receiving the aid. (Ibid.)
Political aspects have definite bearing. Cypriot Commies now working on farmers with greater success. Soviet Ambassador to Athens visited Cyprus, promising aid. It is predicted new Soviet Ambassador to Cyprus will soon arrive with gift of several shiploads of grain. I would hope that, if we decide to help, we will move before Soviets do.
We are continuing discuss situation with GOC. Final recommendation re total requirement will follow. Meanwhile Finance Minister, who plans discuss with Department while in Washington, will have additional information./2/
/2/In telegram 110 to Nicosia, October 6, the Department reported on discussions in Washington relating to the possibility of applying special P.L. 480 Title II programs to Cyprus. (Ibid.)
359. Airgram From the Embassy in Cyprus to the Department of State
Nicosia, October 11, 1960.
//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 880A.062/10 - 1160. Secret. Drafted by Moffitt. Repeated to London, Ankara, and Athens.
G - 39. The position of the non-Communist trade union federation SEK has continued to deteriorate during the past several months while the relative strength of the Communist PEO has increased. PEO, as the Department is aware, is the most important component of the Communist apparatus in Cyprus. It is well led and appears to have no money problems although, so far as we can determine, most of its financing is internal. SEK, on the other hand, is torn by factionalism in its leadership with pro and anti-Pissas elements working at cross purposes. It is short of money and we are told has an indebtedness of 12,000 pounds. Pissas, SEK's General Secretary, is considered corrupt and self- seeking. He has for the past several months been trying to promote for himself a job in the diplomatic or consular service of the Government of Cyprus but has rejected the offer of a post as Consul in Khartoum.
We feel we can help by training SEK leaders, including new blood which may be brought into the organization, this to be done by sending a number of trade unionists to the US and bringing an American trade union organizer to Cyprus to remain here for a minimum period of six months, preferably longer, to work on the spot with SEK leaders in reorganizing the federation. We have informally advised the Minister of Labor and a handful of other reliable labor contacts that we are prepared to assist with training of trade union leaders in the US. The Department was previously requested to look into the possibility of bringing an American trade unionist to Cyprus. This was first proposed by the Minister of Labor and has been endorsed by other labor people here as even more helpful than training union leaders in the US.
We have repeatedly emphasized in our conversations with the GOC that we consider the removal of Pissas a precondition to any real progress in reorganizing SEK as a strong counter to PEO. The Labor Minister and others agree with this and say that Pissas will be eliminated. However, with its numerous preoccupations, the government has not given this problem a high priority. We feel that, if we could go to the GOC with a concrete proposal for training trade union leaders in the US and an offer to bring an American trade union leader to Cyprus to advise and work with new SEK leadership, we would stand a better chance of getting early action on Pissas.
We consider that meeting the challenge of PEO which, as noted earlier, is growing in strength daily while SEK is becoming progressively weaker, is one of the most pressing problems here in Cyprus. We do not see any significant disadvantages to the lending of our assistance in trying to build a strong non-Communist center here. We have every reason to believe that the Government of Cyprus would welcome this assist-ance and, as a matter of fact, there is evidence that the Communist leadership expects us to assist SEK in an active, overt way. AKEL and PEO would, of course, attack our participation in any program to resuscitate SEK, but we do not feel that this would bring on any serious opposition among the people of Cyprus. So far as we know, the British have no plans to help in the labor field. Some eighteen months ago the British trade union advisor to the then Commissioner of Labor suggested that a joint council of the four trade union groups here--PEO, SEK, the independent unions and the Turkish Federation--be established presumably with a view to eventual merger. The Embassy assumes that this proposal, while it may not have had the active advocacy of the British colonial government at the time, was at least accepted by it. Recent conversations, however, suggest that the British mission here now is not trying to promote a TUC-type labor center in Cyprus, and British mission officials may now understand that such a project would play into the hands of the Communists. We do not believe the British would object to our proposed program but feel they should be informed of it at the proper stage. We believe, in any event, that the Cypriots would be reluctant for local political reasons to turn to the UK for help in this field or to the ICFTU lest it provide a UK labor advisor or one of some other nationality schooled on TUC lines.
We do not believe either the Greek or Turkish Governments would object to our aiding the non-Communist labor movement, although in anything we do some help would have to be given the Turkish Federation. This would be desirable in any event since the Turkish Federation is short on leaders with trade union know-how and is an anti-Communist organization worth assisting.
Included in the terms of settlement of the recent strike of casual loading workers at the American owned Cyprus Mines Corporation/1/ was a commitment by CMC management to give a definite answer on the question of union recognition following a meeting of the CMC Board which will take place in Cyprus later this month. Conversations which we have had with the CMC management indicate that the company is prepared to recognize one or more unions if a way can be found to freeze out PEO. The Minister of Labor some weeks ago suggested to the Embassy that the company might recognize as bargaining agent for its work force a joint committee of the Turkish Federation and SEK. The Minister asked the Embassy to explore this possibility with CMC and the Turkish Federation. We have done this and both appear favorably disposed in principle. With the question of union recognition by CMC coming to a head, we feel that the removal of Pissas takes on even greater urgency. He would certainly claim a part of the credit if CMC agreed to deal with SEK and the Turkish Federation, and this might delay his departure from the General Secretaryship of SEK. We hope it will be possible for the Department to reply favorably both as regards training SEK leaders in the US and as regards sending an American trade union organizer to Cyprus.
/1/September 29 - October 3. The strike was settled by an agreement on wage rates and on worker representation on the corporation safety committee. The question of company recognition of trade unions was postponed for one month.
In a recent conversation with Makarios, the Ambassador discussed the trade union situation. Makarios indicated that he was aware of the urgency of replacing Pissas but was hoping SEK itself would take action or Pissas himself would resign or offer to go elsewhere. Makarios did not want to appear to be taking responsibility for the administration of SEK as that would subject GOC and SEK to Commie criticism. It would be wiser if Pissas were maneuvered into withdrawing. Meanwhile, Makarios agreed he would work on the problem and approved our continued cooperation with the Minister of Labor. We thus now have an opportunity to bring present situation to head and recommend that the program we have suggested be provided as an incentive to cooperation by GOC.
360. Telegram From the Embassy in Cyprus to the Department of State
Nicosia, November 18, 1960, 5 p.m.
248. Situation in Cyprus, three months after independence, seems calm and orderly, but beneath surface there are economic and political developments taking place which will cause new government increasing difficulty and may be to disadvantage of US and free world.
//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 780A.00/11 - 1860. Confidential. Repeated to Athens, Ankara, and London.
Economic developments relate to drought, withdrawal of British, unemployment and loss of tourist trade. We have taken initiative in urgent drought situation by offering PL 480/1/ and expect, with UK, Greece, Turkey and other countries, consider other kinds of economic assistance following completion UN survey report later in November.
/1/The Cypriot Government requested P.L. 480 aid on November 3, and the United States announced its willingness to provide aid to Cyprus on November 8. The Cypriot Government's formal request for aid was submitted on November 14. Agreements for deliveries of grain under P.L. 480 were signed in Nicosia on December 12. For texts of these agreements, see 11 UST 2687 and 2693.
Political developments pose real threat. On one hand AKEL, with strong apparatus in being, is expanding influence and gaining in respectability. Its Parliamentary spokesmen are effectively exploiting issues and government inertia. On other hand, Patriotic Front of Makarios is loose coalition which, with achievement of independence, has lost its common purpose and momentum. PF leaders neglecting party organization and grass roots contacts. In addition, Greek and Turkish communities remain preoccupied with communal phobia and post mortems on London - Zurich agreements, which divert attention from internal and external Communist threat. Greeks suffer from complacency while Turks handicapped by ineffectual leadership and divisions within community. Communist dangers will increase as Soviets open mission, step up economic relations through aid, barter and purchases of surpluses, and further expand existing energetic propaganda activities.
Basically, Cyprus continues friendly to West and clearly relies on it, especially US for support. At same time, Makarios is following policy in UN and elsewhere of equal friendship with all countries and avoiding thorny issues such as Israeli-Arab dispute.
To guard against Communist inroads and buttress new government, we have made several suggestions for US action, as follows:
1. PL 480 Title II program (Embtel 241)./2/
2. One-time military assistance for Cypriot Army (Embtel 205)./3/
3. Labor program including American trade union organizer to come to Cyprus (Embtel 180)./4/
/2/Telegram 241 from Nicosia, November 15, transmitted the specific list of Cypriot requests for assistance under P.L. 480. (Department of State, Central Files, 880A.49/11 - 1560)
/3/Telegram 205 from Nicosia, October 21, reported that during the visit of the U.S. Sixth Fleet commander the Cypriots again stressed their desire for U.S. military aid. (Ibid., 780A.062/10 - 2160)
/4/Telegram 180 from Nicosia, October 7, reported on Communist influences in the Cypriot trade union movement and the need for action to strengthen the non-Communist SEK. (Ibid., 880A.062/10 - 762)
We are presently awaiting replies from Washington on these suggestions./5/
There is also most imperative need for stepped-up American information and cultural program here. Before independence, Cyprus was British responsibility, but now it is wide open and Soviet voice is clearly heard. We urgently need information center, mobile van for rural areas, and series of cultural visits. Further suggestions will follow./6/ Country Team concurs.
/5/In telegram 173 to Nicosia, November 25, the Department outlined plans for increased shipment of grains to Cyprus. It to the request for military aid in Document 361. Plans for aiding Cypriot labor are in Document 362.
/6/Not further identified.
361. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Cyprus
Washington, December 2, 1960, 6:46 p.m.
185. Paris for USCINCEUR. Rome for Liaison. Ankara's 735; Athens G - 295./1/ GOT/GOG joint efforts solve problem equipping Cypriot Army, as reported reference communications, strike us as welcome and realistic approach to matter at this stage. We hope momentum can be maintained. Efforts supply Cypriot Army out of Greek and Turkish MAP surplus are fully consistent with established USG policy and we desire be as flexible and accommodating as possible in meeting Greek and Turkish requests this regard.
//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 780A.56/11 - 2560. Confidential. Drafted by Atherton. Also sent to Ankara, Athens, London, and Nicosia and repeated to Paris for USRO and to Rome.
/1/Telegram 735 from Ankara, November 22, reported on Turkish progress in preparing a supply program for Cypriot armed forces. (Ibid., 780A.56/11 - 2260) Airgram G - 295, November 25, reported that the Greek Government was preparing for discussions with the Turks on supplying Cypriot armed forces and favored shipments of U.S. arms. (Ibid., 780A.56/11 - 2560)
While USG has received no formal requests for transfer MAP surpluses and therefore unable make specific commitments at this time, addressee posts may draw on following background as appropriate in discussing question with Governments concerned:
1. Equipping Cypriot Army is of course matter for GOT, GOC and GOG to handle in manner they deem appropriate under their Treaty of Alliance. We are not familiar with details their thinking this regard, but would seem logical for Cypriot arms requirements to be coordinated through mechanism established in Treaty--i.e., Tripartite Hq and, if necessary, Tripartite Ministerial Committee or subsidiary body designated by it.
2. USG pleased note that (a) such procedure now apparently being contemplated (b) GOG and GOT already holding preliminary discussions and (c) attention being focused on what has to us always seemed natural starting point--i.e., serious examination of Greek and Turkish stocks to determine what can be spared to fill Cypriot needs which are after all on small scale.
3. USG prepared view sympathetically GOG and GOT requests for certification of reasonable quantities and types MAP arms and equipment as surplus to their needs and for authority to transfer such surplus to Cypriot Army. USG agencies for coordinating such requests are MAAGs in Greece and Turkey which will be instructed give them priority and sympathetic consideration but cannot commit USG to replace equipment furnished to Cypriot Army.
4. We assume Governments concerned in drawing up list of Cypriot Army requirements will be guided by realities of Cypriot economic situation and military needs. Would seem to us Cypriot Army should be in effect lightly armed constabulary-type force with internal security mission and that its activation should be phased over period of several years.
362. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Cyprus
Washington, December 17, 1960, 4:06 p.m.
210. Ref Nicosia Airgram G - 61, November 29./1/ Dept in essential agreement ideas expressed ref airgram although probable period service any American unionist limited ninety days. UAW investigating availability Chiakalous. We also will be in touch with Nile about possible program. Need to know how many Cypriots could be programed in US at one time.
//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 880A.062/11 - 2960. Confidential. Drafted by Bruce H. Millen. Repeated to Beirut.
/1/Airgram G - 61 reported on the results and recommendations of an Embassy review of the labor situation in Cyprus. (Ibid., 880.062/11 - 2960) The recommendations reiterated those contained in Document 359.
Primary job American unionist, as Dept views it, is develop and guide implementation structural changes, apply pressure for more aggressive leadership, prepare advice for workers education project through TC program in US and possibly on Cyprus itself if this is considered feasible by Embassy.
We continue believe with Emb that ideally US assistance to Cypriots in labor field should be initiated only when Cypriots have themselves evidenced determination take effective action against Communists in trade union movement. Realistically, however, we can envisage situation developing in way which would make it desirable to send American unionist Cyprus even though Cypriots had not done all we thought they might in attacking problem.
363. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Turkey
Washington, December 17, 1960, 4:08 p.m.
797. Rome for Liaison. Ankara's 772 and 773; Nicosia's 287./1/ Department gratified by further indications reftels that GOG, GOT and GOC actively and constructively exploring problem equipping Cypriot Army from MAP surpluses within context their Treaty of Alliance. However, Turkish views reported Ankara's 773, and plan hold tripartite discussions re defense of Cyprus Paris, with Cypriot FonMin present, seem to carry implication some kind of GOC - NATO relationship either exists or is contemplated.
//Source: Department of State, Central Files, 780A.56/12 - 760. Confidential. Drafted by Atherton. Also sent to Ankara, Athens, London, Nicosia, and Paris for USRO and repeated to Rome.
/1/Telegram 287 from Nicosia, December 7, reported that Makarios favored a small, lightly-armed constabulary force for Cyprus. (Ibid., 780A.56/12 - 760) Telegram 772 from Ankara, December 7, reported on Turkish Government plans for filling the supply requirements of Cypriot armed forces. (Ibid.) Telegram 773 from Ankara has not been found.
Although Cyprus is not included in North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Cypriot developments are clearly of concern to NATO. Moves which tend focus attention on this latter circumstance, however, and suggest possibility GOC - NATO ties could have effect on neutralist currents in Cyprus and possibly complicate GOC position vis-a-vis Cypriot Communists and opposition nationalists. Would seem to us at this time that NATO interests adequately advanced by (a) presence UK sovereign bases in Cyprus, (b) continued Greek-Turkish cooperation, and (c) maintenance political stability in Cyprus under Government willing and able resist Communist/Soviet Bloc encroachments.
Basic element of US policy re Cyprus, however, is that it is area of primary Greek-Turkish-UK interest. Should these countries raise question of GOC - NATO relationship in Paris or elsewhere, we would of course consider without prior commitment such proposals as they might put forward. For our part, however, we have no intention of taking initiative this regard or of encouraging others to do so.
Without discussing with local Governments, addressee posts requested comment on Turkish views set forth Ankara's 773./2/
/2/Telegram 313 from Nicosia, December 19, reported that the Cypriot Government did not desire a NATO tie. (Ibid., 780A.56/12 - 1960) Telegram 882 from Ankara, December 24, reported that the Turkish Government did not contemplate Cypriot participation in NATO. (Ibid., 780A.56/12 - 2460) Responses from the Embassies in Athens and London have not been found.
[End of Section 19]