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ORGANISATION DU TRAITÉ DE L'ATLANTIQUE NORD
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le 18 avril 1958|
There have been two unsuccessful attempts at NATO mediation on the Cyprus question during 1957. An offer of good offices by Lord Ismay in March 195761 failed due to Greece's rejection of his proposal to call a meeting of the parties involved. Mr.Spaak for his part was busy working behind the scenes from June 1957 on. Towards the end of the year, however, general elections in Turkey and the debate on Cyprus at the United Nations, caused him to postpone his initiatives indefinitely.
Little concrete progress has been achieved towards a solution of the Cyprus question in the last few months, although renewed efforts at negotiation with Greece and Turkey have been made by the United Kingdom. At the Twelfth Session of the General Assembly, Greece concentrated its efforts on obtaining a United Nations vote in favour of self-determination for Cyprus.62 The United Kingdom and Turkey, on the other hand, argued in favour of a fairly general resolution similar in character to that adopted at the Eleventh Session, which called for a resumption of negotiations. A late attempt to produce a compromise resolution omitting specific reference to self-determination, in which the Canadian delegation rather reluctantly took a part at United Kingdom urging, was unsuccessful. The debate remained inconclusive as the Greek resolution, recommending the application of the principle of self-determination failed to receive the required two-thirds majority in plenary session.
On the occasion of the Baghdad Pact Ministerial Council Meeting, held in Ankara January 25-31, 1958, Mr.Selwyn Lloyd conferred on Cyprus with members of the Turkish Government. The Turks maintained that the Island should be partitioned as Turkey could not allow the Turkish Cypriots to be ruled by the Greek majority. They were strongly opposed to the course of action which had been considered during Sir Hugh Foot's discussions with United Kingdom Government and which envisaged the deferment of the exercise of self-determination for a fixed period of years, the introduction of self-government during the interim period, and the early lifting of the emergency in Cyprus itself. They indicated, however, that an arrangement which would provide for a Turkish base in Cyprus and some form of self-government which would fully satisfy their concern for the Turkish Community might prove acceptable.
In Athens Mr.Lloyd emphasized the dangers of communal strife in Cyprus and the probability that any further violence, whether on the part of EOKA or the Cypriot Turks, would make partition inevitable. He endeavoured to find out from the Greeks whether there would be room for a compromise on the basis that Cyprus should advance towards self-determination as a unitary state within a fixed number of years, provided that Turkey's strategic requirements were met by the introduction of a Turkish enclave at an appropriate stage in the constitutional development of the Island.
The Greeks considered that Treaty obligations combined with United Kingdom bases should satisfy Turkish security requirements, and they were opposed to any suggestion that the Turks might be given bases before the future of the Island was finally decided. The Greek position was officially still unqualified self-determination but they indicated that they would be prepared to consider a solution on the following lines, providing that they did not have to put it forward themselves; the Island should remain as a unit; after a short period of self-government it should be given independence within the Commonwealth, binding itself not to seek to change its international status for a further period of years; it should submit to obligations regarding minorities and also with regard to foreign policy and armaments; the change in status might be subject to a vote in the United Nations and the new state should become a member of NATO.
On the question of the procedure under which an attempt to a solution might be made the United Kingdom offer of a Tripartite Conference in London to discuss the future of Cyprus generally was still open; alternatively there might be a Conference on strategic questions only. The Greeks rejected both suggestions as they preferred bilateral conversations conducted by the United Kingdom Government with the Greek and Turkish Governments separately.
Throughout the discussions in both Ankara and Athens, Mr.Lloyd made clear that whatever happened the United Kingdom bases under United Kingdom sovereignty would remain in the Island. This was accepted by both Turkish and Greek Ministers.
The United Kingdom Government subsequently considered the implications of the Foreign Secretary's talks and decided that the United Kingdom should:
At present, it does not appear that the United Kingdom Ministers have the intention of pursuing the Greek ideas concerning the political future of the Island. They feel that the difficulties involved in such a conditional Commonwealth solution would be obviously too great.
The United Kingdom, for some time, has been genuinely anxious to find almost any solution which would prove acceptable to all parties. The attitudes of the Turkish and Greek Governments are still, publicly at least, hardly reconcilable. However, both Governments seem to be equally anxious for an agreed solution which would not involve too much loss of face. Undoubtedly, it will be difficult for them to renounce the public positions they have taken on this and which are basically that Turkey requests partition and that Greece insists on self-determination through a plebiscite.
The present terms of reference of the United Kingdom in regard to the future of Cyprus do go a long way to meet Turkish security requirements. It might prove very difficult, however, to persuade the Greeks to agree to them since it would defer self-determination for a fixed number of years (perhaps ten), and would give Turkey an immediate foothold on the Island. On the other hand, they represent an important concession on the part of the United Kingdom Government in that they now have come to commit themselves firmly in favour of introduction of self-determination after a fixed period of time. Also, the present plan avoids at least the immediate danger of partition, which the Greeks do not want, and would mean the early lifting of the emergency restrictions which the Cypriots do not like.
The Canadian Government is anxious that a peaceful, just and, if possible, lasting solution be found to the problem of the future of Cyprus. Although Canada has no immediate interest in the Cyprus dispute, we have, as a member of the United Nations, the Commonwealth and NATO, a deep concern that a settlement acceptable to all parties concerned be reached. The Canadian Government does not consider that it is in a position to put forward concrete proposals; this must be left to the interested parties.
61 Voir/See Volume 22, Documents 615-620.
62 Voir ministère des Affaires extérieures, Le Canada et les Nations Unies,
1957 (Ottawa, 1959), pp.13à15.