This is one of a series of articles from our new feature ‘Background briefing: The Divided Island‘. It is a comprehensive interactive information guide on the Cyprus problem.
In 1964, US president Lyndon Johnson tasked Dean Acheson, a former secretary of state, to see how the Cyprus problem could be solved.
Johnson was concerned that instability (intercommunal violence) on the strategically-located island could lead to war between Greece and Turkey – the US’s allies in Nato – and so weaken the alliance’s south-eastern flank.
The resulting “Acheson Plan” envisaged the union of Cyprus and Greece, while up to three cantons would be established for the Turkish Cypriots, over which they would have full administrative control.
Turkey would be able to establish a large sovereign military base in the Karpas in perpetuity.
Archbishop Makarios – Cyprus’ president and the Greek Cypriot leader –promptly rejected the plan, saying that a sovereign Turkish base on the island would limit enosis and give Ankara too much say in Cyprus’ affairs.
The US swiftly revised its proposals: Turkey would instead have a 50-year lease on a smaller base and which would not be sovereign. This time, the proposals were rejected by both Turkey and by the Greek Cypriots, who believed it called for a modified form of partition.