Cyprus Conflict - Political Aspects - Cold War DOCUMENTARY

Cyprus Conflict - Political Aspects - Cold War DOCUMENTARY

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The history of modern Cyprus is marked and shaped  by one huge event, the 1974 Turkish invasion.   In previous episodes, we have been telling the  history of the island leading towards this seminal   event. We last left the island nation in 1967,  where intercommunal violence was escalating but a   general peace still held. I’m your host David and  today we are going to see how this peace collapsed  

and how a paradise in the Mediterranean  was split in two. This is…The Cold War. As many of you know, I love to learn. Discovering  new ideas and new perspectives is a huge part of   the reason I do what I do. That is why I am  so thrilled to be working with the sponsor of   today’s video, a rising star in the streaming  world, MagellanTV! MagellanTV is the highest   rated documentary streaming app on Google  Play and it offers the Best value of any   Premium Documentary streaming service for both  its price and especially its quality. And the  

reason is that MagellanTV is all about the drama  of real life: the lives of ancient pharaohs,   critical battles in world wars I and 2,  soldiers who fought in the Civil War,   the battles for control of the British Crown, the  Norman conquest. Join us in watching Fidel Castro:   Life for the Revolution, an psychological  examination of the Revolutionary leader   based on letters correspondence and interviews  with his friends and his enemies. MagellanTV   has the largest and best collection of history  shows anywhere! Not only are there no ads ever   but your subscription always includes 4K. Click  the link in the description and join us today! 'My father says: Do you love your fatherland? My  fatherland has been split in half, which part must   I love?'. This 1974 poem by Cypriot poet Neshe  Yashin encompasses the Cypriot experience which   was gripped by the intersection of nationalism,  imperialism and colonialism since independence   in 1960. When we last left the island, it was  1967 and the Greek and Turkish Cypriots had  

been through years of conflict and separation.  During this time, in both Greece and Turkey,   things had become more intense, as in  the former a Junta had come to power,   and in the latter multiple coup attempts and  paramilitary violence had begun to take place.  In Cyprus itself, the Turkish Cypriots  were locked in enclaves while the Greek   Cypriots ran the official government of the  island. Archbishop Makarios and Fazil Kucuk,  

the leaders of the two communities, had taken  their own independent paths, but things for   both communities would continue to become even  more tense. In the Greek Cypriot community,   people who supported Grivas were opposed  by supporters of Makarios who had aligned   themselves with the communists. In the Turkish  Cypriot community, Rauf Denktash was finally   back from Turkey and was increasing his  power at the expense of Fazil Kucuk,   though the Turkish Cypriot leftists had also begun  to organise themselves into opposition forces.   Eventually, in 1974 Greece would stage a coup to  remove Makarios, which is when Turkey began its   invasion and occupation of the northern portion  of the island, one that continues to this day.   The trajectory that led to these tragic events,  as well as the hot summer of 1974 are filled   with historical details that link to the Cold  War and its geopolitics. So, let’s get to it. 

So, before we talk about this crucial period,  we first need to understand how Turkey,   Greece and Cyprus were developing politically  during this time. In Greece, a military Junta had   taken over and imposed a harsh right-wing, often  described as neo-fascist, regime in the country,   as a response to political instability. The  initial leader, Papadopoulos, was relatively   moderate in his foreign policy, while being harsh  at home. His successor after 1973, Ioannides, had   actually served in the Greek military contingent  in Cyprus in the early 1960s and according to US   diplomats who met with him, was himself paranoid  and a megalomaniac. Great combination. Leftists   were persecuted and fought both at home and  abroad to liberate Greece from dictatorship.  In Turkey, the 1968 movements had been met with  force by the deep state, as far-left militias   fought far-right militias in both cities and  villages. One of these far-right militias,  

the notorious Grey Wolves, was run by  the Nationalist Movement Party, the MHP,   and Colonel Alparslan Turkesh, who incidentally  was a Cypriot. This coincided with the rise of the   Kurdish movement for autonomy and independence,  which itself was leftist in its orientation.   The Islamist movement also was on the rise,  but the leader of the Kemalist Republican   People’s Party, the CHP, had managed to co-opt  some of the leftist discourse by re-orienting   Kemalism as a social-democratic force. Cyprus itself remained divided, though many   changes were taking place. In the Greek Cypriot  community, Makarios remained a Greek nationalist,   but had switched from Enosis to a policy of  ‘Desirable’, meaning union with Greece and   ‘Achievable’ aims, meaning absolute independence.  He remained intransigent to any proposed plans to   resolve the Cyprus problem, and was independent  from influence from both Greece and NATO. 

A politician we mentioned previously, Vasos  Lyssarides, founded EDEK, a Third World socialist   party, similar in position to Nasser or Gaddafi,  but it never got more than 10% support in the   polls. It was however notorious for opposing  the Junta and calling for the restoration of   democracy in Greece. The party itself was very  nationalistic and militaristic, unlike AKEL,   which remained loyal to Makarios but were still  treated as 2nd class citizens and still favouring   reconciliation. Many nationalists who still  favoured Enosis had begun to oppose Makarios  

with support from both the Junta and Grivas.  They saw him as a communist anti-Greek agent.  In the Turkish Cypriot community, Rauf Denktash  had begun to amass more power against Fazil Kucuk,   but at the same time was a negotiator for plans  for a possible solution. Kucuk was more moderate   but Denktash had cultivated more ties with the  Turkish deep state. That deep state by the way was  

largely composed of groups within the military,  the security services and judiciary as well as   organized crime. They would step in to politics to  ‘correct’ any divergences they felt were going to   harm the Kemalist roots of the Turkish state. But  anyway, in Cyprus leftist opposition had begun to   mount, as in 1970 Ahmet Berberoglu, a prominent  lawyer, founded the Communal Liberation Party,   CTP, and Alper Orhon founded the Populist  Party, the HP. The two parties were still   supportive of the Turkish Cypriots, but favoured  more leftist policies and were opposed to any form   of secession, instead favouring a multi-district  federation, which coincided with the proposed UN   plan at the time. Intra-communal tensions were  increasingly volatile and continued to escalate.  Makarios was initially welcoming towards the  Junta in Greece because of the presence of the   Greek Division, and even welcomed Papadopoulos  in a state visit, However, as soon as they left,   he began to speak out against them. Committees  for the restoration of Democracy in Greece were   organised. Makarios was more intransigent  against ideas of double Enosis, which would  

include partition by their very nature. This,  combined with his relations with the USSR and   the Non-Aligned Movement, made him a detested  figure by people in Washington. Many called him   the ‘Castro of the Mediterranean’ and the ‘Red  Priest’. Makarios himself had had a journey from  

more right-wing to left-wing positions. However,  within the Non-Aligned Movement he did call for   working with the United States, as he had done  his graduate studies there. He also remained a   nationalist, and was very hard to convince  when it came to plans for a solution with   the Turkish Cypriot community. He did, however,  loosen the roadblocks around the enclaves which  

allowed Turkish Cypriots to move more freely.  The violent outbreaks of 1967 had died down,   and hence there was more momentum for a negotiated  solution. His chief negotiator, a liberal moderate   nationalist named Glafkos Clerides, continued to  work with Rauf Denktash, who was growing in power   and stature within the Turkish Cypriot community.  Various plans were proposed between the two,  

but they usually came to a standstill, as either  Makarios or Denktash would prove maximalist in   their aspirations, unwilling to compromise. Makarios began to be opposed by the Junta,   as well as Greek Cypriot ultra nationalists  who wanted to unite with Greece, at any cost.   Initially, the main right-wing party,  Patriotic Front, was an umbrella of all   EOKA supporters and the right wing. However,  many personalities like Clerides or Yiorkadjis,   had their own circles within the Patriotic  Front, and as a result, it was not very united. 

When it was refounded in 1969 as the United  Party, it had a split with Grivas supporters   and ultra-nationalists in general, including  Nikos Sampson, who formed a minor ‘Progressive   Forces’ party. AKEL which was still run by  Ezekias Papaioannou, which controlled about   35%-40% of the vote, chose to continue to side  with Makarios in a sort of popular front against   the far-right. Violence between far-right and  popular-front forces began to erupt slowly.  Polykarpos Yiorkadjis, who you no doubt remember  was quite the nationalist himself and had helped   form paramilitaries against the Turkish  Cypriots and was linked to the Akritas Plan,   was assassinated by the Junta in 1970 for  being pro-Makarios. Grivas clandestinely   returned to Cyprus with Junta backing to form  a far-right paramilitary group called EOKA B’,   in a nod to the first EOKA. This group committed  bombings and assassinations, including a bazooka  

attack on a helicopter carrying Makarios. Makarios  formed the Efedrikon, or Reservists, a gendarmerie   which opposed EOKA B’, as well as defence units by  EDEK. AKEL offered help, but was still distrusted.  In the Turkish Cypriot Community, elections  for Vice-President took place in 1973,   and Rauf Denktash replaced Fazil Kucuk, due to  his links with the Turkish state as well as his   firebrand nationalistic politics. However, many  young Turkish Cypriots who had studied in Turkey   and had come into contact with the Turkish  New Left, as well as the old communists,   were beginning to finally organise against the TMT  elite. Ahmet Berberoglu’s CTP and Alper Orhon’s   HP criticised the over-dependence on Turkey,  and aimed for more socially just policies even   just within the enclaves. Denktash was a brutal  politician himself, so he used TMT forces against  

both parties. Meanwhile, other leftists like  Alpay Durduran also organised against Denktash,   and he would later form another left-wing party,  TKP or the Communal Liberation Party in 1976.  In 1973, negotiations for a solution between  Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots came to   yet another halt, and in Greece and  Turkey two major changes took place.  

Papadopoulos in Athens was replaced by the  more hardline Ioannides, while in Turkey,   Bulent Ecevit and the CHP won the elections.  These two men would define the fate of Cyprus,   along with US complicity and the ultra nationalist  Cypriots including Denktash and Sampson.  Makarios knew that the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee,  as well as the integration of Greek officers in   the National Guard of Cyprus as well as Turkish  influence over the enclaves, did not allow him   full independence on domestic or international  affairs. He also assumed that the threat of   one side, in this case Turkey, would prevent  the Greek Junta from doing anything extreme. 

Grivas died in early 1974, and EOKA B  continued its terror campaign. Eventually,   on July 15th 1974, Greece launched a coup against  Makarios. Tanks and Special Forces troops from   Greece and the Cypriot National Guard, controlled  by Greek officers, stormed the centre of Nicosia   and attacked the Cyprus Broadcasting  Corporation and the Presidential Palace.   Palace guards and pro-Makarios forces fought  intensely and managed to stall the Junta   forces long enough for Makarios to escape. While the coup government announced the death  

of Makarios, the Archbishop found a car and  stormed off to Paphos on the west coast of   the island. There he used a local radio station  to make a fiery speech proclaiming that he was   alive and that the people should resist the coup  and defend democracy. With British assistance,   he fled to London where Cypriot migrants welcomed  him in protests and then he went on to New York.  The coup government tried to get Clerides to be  President, but he refused and they resorted to   Nikos Sampson. The Turkish Cypriot enclaves  were immediately blocked off, but Sampson   insisted that he would maintain international  law and constitutional order. This was however, a   blatant lie, as Makarios supporters and people who  opposed the coup, as well as AKEL and EDEK members   were arrested and many of them were tortured.  Makarios, from the United Nations in New York  

condemned the coup and called it a Greek invasion.  Bulent Ecevit in Turkey demanded that the coup   government withdraw, but also stating that he  was not planning an intervention. In fact, he had   talked with James Callaghan, the British Foreign  Secretary at the time, about intervening as one of   the three Guarantor powers but Callaghan refused. And what USA doing? Well, they did not immediately   condemn the coup, even though it seems to  have come as a surprise to them. We know   for a fact that the idea of partition  had been entertained by Dean Acheson,   and that there were even considerations of  provoking Greece and Turkey to enforce such   a plan if Makarios proved intransigent.  This was only an idea in the late 1960s,  

however and it doesn’t seem to have been actively  pursued. We are not sure if they explicitly asked   either Greece or Turkey to conduct a coup and  invasion, but the CIA had backed the Greek Junta   and had strong ties with the Turkish deep state,  which was pushing for the invasion to take place.   So some responsibility in terms of enabling the  worst elements in both countries is definitely   warranted. As for the British, they seem to have  been caught completely by surprise. Their main   interests in mediation in Cyprus was the security  of their bases at Akrotiri and Dekhalia, so they   sought ways to keep the situation as stable as  possible. It should be noted that a lot of the  

divide-and-rule that led to these events however  comes straight from British colonial policy but   that doesn’t mean that London was involved,  just that you can learn a lot from history.  Eventually, Turkey launched an invasion  of the island on July 20th, 1974, sending   in paratroopers and ships for landings off the  coast of Kyrenia in an operation called Atilla.   They did this by invoking the Treaty of Guarantee.  The Turkish army began fighting off the coast,   and the coup government in Nicosia immediately  fell into disarray. It took two days for the   Turks to make some minor gains on the island and  to begin reinforcing the Turkish Cypriot enclaves. 

In Greece, the Junta almost immediately  collapsed as people began to protest. The   Colonels did not send troops to Cyprus, Ioannides  was forced to resign and Konstantinos Karamanlis,   seen as a moderate, returned to Greece  to help with the transition to democracy.   A truce was reached in Cyprus on the 22nd of  July, while a covert aircraft carrying commandos   from Greece was shot down by friendly fire. Turkey  also accidentally sank one of its own ships. Soon,   Sampson was arrested and Glafkos Clerides became  President in absentia to try and defuse the   situation. Negotiations began in Zurich brokered  by the British, but the demands by Turkey,   which included federalization as well as the  movement of Turkish troops into the Turkish   Cypriot enclaves, were extremely sensitive  and could not be accepted by Clerides.  

He himself did not have the legitimacy of  Makarios, but was certainly a moderate voice.   Political prisoners held by the Junta  were released, but many were not given   arms to fight the Turkish army. As a  result, Greek Cypriot defence was very   weak and not particularly effective, though  some victories and pushbacks did take place. 

With the talks collapsed, Turkey resumed  its invasion on August 14th with Atilla 2,   and pushed from the 3% they had  gained to take over 36% of the island.   The long pointy peninsula of Karpasia/Karpaz  was cut off, and Greek Cypriots live there   to this day. The inhabitants of the city of  Famagusta/Gazimaguza fled for their lives and   escaped to the southern part of the island, while  the Turkish army advanced all the way to Nicosia,   splitting the capital in two, a  status quo that still persists.  Now, war is a horrible affair, which we often  forget when discussing tactics and maneuvers.   Cyprus is no exception, as many war crimes took  place. The Turkish army and Turkish Cypriot   ultranationalists committed retribution killings,  assaults on women, as well as mass killings.  

Villages like Deryneia, Sysklipos, or Asshia were  the locations of many such killings, as civilians   and POWs were rounded up and summarily executed.  Asshia is a particularly harsh example of this,   as civilians were taken into buses and then shot  outside the village. These were often overseen by   Turkish or Turkish Cypriot officers, and Denktash  himself had knowledge of many such events.   Many Greek Cypriots were shipped off to southern  Turkey in Adana where they did hard labour. 

But the Greek Cypriots did no better,  and we also responsible for committing   atrocities. Of particular note are  the massacres of Aloa, Santalari,   Maratha as well as the massacre of Tochni in the  south. There, Greek Cypriot ultranationalists   preferred to stay on the sidelines and massacred  women and children, burying them in a mass grave.  We should also note though that many individual  Cypriots helped each other escape certain death   to the best of their abilities. Another important  factor is that of Internally Displaced Persons.   Over 50,000 Turkish Cypriots fled to the north,  and over 150,000 Greek Cypriots fled to the south,   where they had to rebuild their lives from  scratch. And, an often-neglected aspect of   this includes the various minorities. Armenians,  Latins and Maronites fled to the south, while  

Romani Cypriots fled north. The Maronites were hit  particularly hard, as the village of Kormakitis in   the northwest was the only one that still spoke  their unique Cypriot Arabic dialect, and combined   with neglect from Greek Cypriots, the language has  almost died out. Many Greek Cypriot parents sent   their children to Greece for a year, as some like  the Bishop of Heleia in the Peloponnese organized   lodging for them. For many Greek Cypriots,  displacement meant living in tent shanty-towns as   the government built new homes for them. For many  Turkish Cypriots, displacement meant moving into   empty towns, only just evacuated by their fellow  Cypriots, which produced what the Anthropologist   Yael Navarro-Yashin calls ‘hauntings’,  unresolved emotions manifest in urban space.  By the 16th of August, the conflict had reached  a ceasefire and the conflict remains frozen to   this day. Makarios returned in late 1974 to  a devastated country, and began a process of  

reconciliation amongst society. A few coup  participants, including Nikos Sampson, were   arrested, but Makarios generally did not pursue  a harsh path of retribution. What he did do,   however, was to maintain the popular front  of anti-coup forces and to ensure they would   not gain power. This cordon sanitaire included  Clerides, as the far-right parties were absorbed  

into his own liberal conservative party. The Turkish Cypriots in the north began   their own nation-building process in a now  coherent political entity, albeit under   the firm guidance of Turkey, which often saw  them as imperfect Turks in need of perfection.   In 1975, Rauf Denktash was elected President of  the Turkish Cypriot Federated State, and formed   the National Unity Party or UBP, as his vehicle  for setting up a clientelistic big-government   conservative state. The opposition, CTP and  a new leftist party, the Communal Liberation   Party or TKP, were locked out of power, but  maintained about 40% of the electorate in total. 

Turkey itself began to send small numbers  of settlers to Northern Cyprus, as well as   helping Denktash set up his own government.  In 1977, Makarios and Denktash agreed on   a new framework for the solution of the Cyprus  problem, called a Bizonal Bicommunal Federation.   Essentially, this entailed a federal state with  two territorial units and power-sharing. This is  

a framework with many details that needed hashing  out, such as return of IDPs to their homes,   reparations, security guarantees and effective  participation in government, and it has created   various objections by each side ever since.  Denktash himself hardly ever took it seriously,   while Makarios died in 1977 and was replaced by  a hawkish nationalist named Spyros Kyprianou.   In 1983, Denktash unilaterally declared  independence for the so-called Turkish   Republic of Northern Cyprus, though  only Turkey recognizes the state.  The United Nation force already in Cyprus,  UNFICYP, was tasked with patrolling and   maintaining the border between the Turkish  north and the Greek south. The DMZ line,   also known as the Green Line, stretches 180  kilometres, including splitting the capital   of Nicosia in half. We will take a look at UN  peacekeeping in a future episode and UNFICYP  

will likely feature as a prominent example  of a system that worked to maintain peace   but also helped to entrench a status-quo. So, how has this frozen conflict developed   since 1974? Well, it’s complicated. Sporadic  violence on the DMZ continued for two decades,   such as in 1996 when two motorcyclists on a  march against Turkey were shot and killed.   Frameworks or entire solution plans have sprung  up in 1977, 1985, 1990, 2003 and 2016, but on   these various occasions either the Greek Cypriots  and Greece or the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey,   have rejected them. This has enabled  Turkey to pillage cultural heritage in   the north as well as to keep sending migrant  settlers, who are quite heterogeneous group.   For the Kemalist and secular Turkish Cypriots,  they are seen as Anatolian backwards people. 

Thousands of dead and missing persons from  throughout the period of violence from 1955   to 1974, are still being exhumed and given proper  burials through an UN-backed Bicommunal Committee   on Missing Persons. The Greek Cypriots have sort  of internalised the partition in their minds, as   their monopoly over the internationally recognized  government has allowed them to rebuild their side   of the fence. However, many people still yearn  to reunify the island or return to their homes.   In more recent years, civil societies and trade  unions have rebuilt bicommunal links, particularly   after the roadblocks were lifted in 2003. While  many on both sides reject the idea of a Bizonal   Bicommunal Federation on various grounds,  preferring a unitary state, a confederation,   or even partition, a federalist movement  has emerged from liberal and leftist forces,   the latter of which have survived on both sides  of the DMZ despite compromising on many occasions.  Cyprus has yet to be reunified, and fault can be  placed on all sides for the decades of violence   and separation. However, for many, the idea  of living side-by-side as they once did in   their villages, remains strong enough for them  to keep fighting for a truly Cypriot future.  

So perhaps the dilemma posed poem we mentioned  at the start of this episode will one day become   but a sad memory and Cypriots can break  bread and halloumi together once more.  We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and to  make sure you don't miss our future work,   please make sure you are subscribed to  our channel even if it means one third   of the bell button gets partitioned and  multinational peacekeeping troops need to   be sent to ensure you can still press it  safely…Please consider supporting us on   Patreon at or through  YouTube membership. We can be reached via email   at This is the Cold  War Channel and as we think about the Cold War,   please remember that history is shades  of gray and rarely black and white.

2023-02-07 17:58

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