What Caused the Cyprus War? - Cold War DOCUMENTARY

What Caused the Cyprus War? - Cold War DOCUMENTARY

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When we last looked at Cyprus, it had just  achieved a reluctant independence from the   British, under a power-sharing agreement between  the Greek and Turkish communities on the island.   But peace was not in the cards and it only took a  few years for intercommunal fighting to break out,   eventually leading to an invasion and informal  partition. The years between 1960 and 1974 are   incredibly busy ones in Cypriot, and Greek  and Turkish, history, so we are going to   split this story up over a few episodes. I’m  your host David and this week, we are looking   at Cypriot history between 1960 and 1967. Grab  your halloumi and buckle up…this is…The Cold War. So, before we talk about the events themselves,  we need to try and understand the historical   context of the region, which itself is quite  complex. The Zurich-London Agreements that came  

into effect in 1960 creating an independent  Cyprus were the results of compromise between   the visions of Enosis, the complete union of  Cyprus with Greece, and Taksim, the partition   of the island between Greece and Turkey. Under  the agreement, the President of Cyprus was to   be a Greek-Cypriot while the Vice-President would  be a Turkish-Cypriot. In addition, a 70:30 ratio   between Greeks and Turks was instituted for  parliament and the civil service, while a   60:40 split was established for the military and  the police. Parliament was elected separately by   each community, as was the President and the  Vice-President. For important matters national   matters like taxation and defence, there needed  to be separate majorities from each community, and   the President and Vice-President could each veto  the other. What could possibly go wrong, right?  In terms of defense and security, Cyprus  ceded territory in Akrotiri and Dhekelia   as sovereign British soil which the  Brits would use as military bases.  

Greece and Turkey were to send contingents of  950 and 650 soldiers respectively to the island,   and Greece, Turkey and Britain were made to be  guarantor powers, who in the event of trouble   could ‘intervene and restore order’. In an  unofficial ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ between   Konstantinos Karamanlis, the Greek Prime-Minister,  and Adnan Menderes, the Turkish Prime-Minister,   they also agreed to pressure their local cousins  to ban AKEL, the communist party in Cyprus. As a   side note, the three minorities living on the  island, the Maronites Christian community,   the Armenian community and the Latin community,  the descendants of Crusaders and Venetians from   the Medieval Kingdom, received special  status as ‘religious’ communities,   but they had to officially choose between Greek  and Turkish ‘ethnicity’. By the way, the Cypriot   Romani community who were majority Muslim,  did not even receive this meager recognition.  Britain, satisfied with what it had gained  from the Agreements, felt quite secure in   their position. This feeling was shared by the  United States, who felt they had achieved relative  

balance between two key NATO partners who each  shared border with nations of the Warsaw Pact.   Both Menderes and Karamanlis, who were both  very keen on negotiation, and very pro-NATO,   were also happy with this arrangement. But, as the  decade would go on, both Greece and Turkey would   become increasingly more hawkish, both towards  each other, but also to their Cypriot cousins.  In Cyprus itself, things were more complicated.  The Turkish Cypriot community felt a certain level   of security due to its guaranteed participation  in government, and Vice-President Fazil Kuchuk   was keen to maintain that role. However, many  nationalists like the lawyer and President of the   Turkish Communal Chamber, the community-specific  parliament dealing with cultural affairs,   Rauf Denktash, were not happy and would continue  to agitate for partition. In a somewhat hilarious  

meeting between Denktash and the Turkish attaché  to Cyprus, Emin Dirvana, Denktash raised a toast   by hoping that Dirvana would leave as governor of  Cyprus. In response Dirvana angrily chastised the   Cypriot. Not exactly the response that Denktash  hoped for but let’s remember that name for later   as he becomes rather important to the story. In the Greek Cypriot community, things were   no less complicated. The Greek Cypriots were, to  a large extent, resentful that they had to share   power with the Turkish Cypriots, seeing themselves  as the rightful majority and therefore leaders of   the island. George Grivas, who was a maximalist on  the issue of Enosis, left the island after a deal,  

while Archbishop Makarios III maintained  his hegemony amongst the Greek Cypriots.   While he remained a nationalist, Makarios also had  an independent streak. Karamanlis had counselled   Makarios to join NATO, but he instead joined  the Non-Aligned Movement, a policy that brought   him closer to the USSR and the Third World, as  well as allowing him some geopolitical leeway. 

The communist movement on the island, for its  part, was against the Zurich-London Agreements,   seeing them as imperialist in nature. However,  under the leadership of Ezekias Papaioannou,   they accepted independence and began working on  some form of bicommunal cooperation. However,   they had already begun to have rifts in 1958,  as both EOKA and TMT hunted down and executed   suspected traitors, mostly communists,  usually on flimsy to non-existent charges.   They therefore were trailing behind their  respective nationalist elites in their ability   to establish political legitimacy, and basically  accepted politics on nationalist terms. This   would hinder cooperation between the Turkish and  Greek communist wings, however they would also   cooperate and help each other in times of need. So, the period from 1960 to 1963 was peaceful,   albeit tense. The two communities  worked together in parliament sometimes,  

like clamping down on fake dentists, but they  would often have arguments about specific issues,   including things like local taxation in 1962.  According to Cypriot historian Niyazi Kizilyurek,   the nationalist elites who dominated politics,  began to cooperate with the Greek and Turkish   contingents to train paramilitaries to continue  their nationalist goals, while accusing each   other of trying to undermine the independent  Republic. Kucuk was distraught with Makarios,   who often acted independently, including joining  the Non-Aligned Movement without consultation.  Now, the Greek Cypriot side, with the knowledge  of Makarios, had conceived of a plan code–named   ‘Akritas’ in which they would unilaterally abolish  the constitution and the Treaty of Guarantees,   and declare Enosis, merger with Greece. In  the event of resistance from Turkish Cypriots,  

they would enforce their will by force.  Cypriot paramilitaries were gathering   weapons at an alarming rate. This was accompanied  by incidents of bombings of churches and mosques,   as well as national monuments belonging to  each community. Some of these attacks were   actually false flag attacks, meant to scare the  average Cypriot into sticking with their community   rather than seeking bilateral cooperation. Some Cypriots, particularly moderate liberals  

and communists, did agitate for co-existence, but  faced violence and intimidation as a result. One   gruesome case is that of Ayhan Hikmet and Ahmet  Muzaffer Giirkan, two Turkish Cypriots who found   out about paramilitaries run by Denktash. They  presented the information to the Greek Cypriot   Minister of the Interior, Polykarpos Yiorkadjis,  who recorded their conversation. He then gave the   recording to Denktash, who subsequently ordered  the murder of the two men. This wouldn’t be the   last time ultranationalists in Cyprus would  cooperate, either willingly or accidentally.  Eventually, in late 1963, Makarios  proposed the so-called 13 Points,   constitutional amendments he claimed would improve  the governance of the island. These points were: 

1. The right of veto of the President  and the Vice-President to be abandoned.  2. The Vice-President of the Republic to deputise  for the President of the Republic in case of   his temporary absence or incapacity. 3. The Greek President of the House of   Representatives and the Turkish Vice-President  to be elected by the House and not separately.  4. The Vice-President of the House  of Representatives to deputise for   the President of the House in case of  his temporary absence or incapacity. 

5. The constitutional provisions  regarding separate majorities for   enactment of certain laws to be abolished. 6. Unified Municipalities to be established.  7. The administration of Justice to be unified.  8. The division of the Security Forces into  Police and Gendarmerie to be abolished. 

9. The numerical strength of  the Security Forces and of the   Defence Forces to be determined by a Law. 10. The proportion of the participation   of Greek and Turkish Cypriots in the  composition of the Public Service and   the Forces of the Republic to be modified  in proportion to their population numbers.  11. The number of the Members of the Public  Service Commission to be reduced from ten to five. 

12. All decisions of the Public Service  Commission to be taken by simple majority.  13. The Greek Communal Chamber to be abolished. The fact that these were unilaterally proposed,   and that they infringed upon what Turkish Cypriots  saw as their autonomy in government, meant that   Fazil Kucuk was very much angered. The Ministerial  Council, full of former EOKA and TMT members,   began to fight. Tensions began to boil over. One  of the Turkish Cypriot Ministers also commented  

in the last pre-violence meeting how the press  was fanning the flames of nationalism. Things   boiled over on the 21st of December 1963 when  two Greek Cypriot police officers attempted to   stop a car being used by Turkish Cypriots on the  border between the Greek and Turkish quarters of   Nicosia. The Turkish Cypriots refused to stop and  the police fired upon the fleeing vehicle, killing   one person. The Turkish Cypriot quarter in Nicosia  immediately began rioting and paramilitaries   began to mobilise. Fazil Kucuk announced that the  Turkish Cypriots were leaving government, as they   felt they were under an existential threat from  the Greek Cypriots. We should note here that the   Greek Cypriots, until recently, referred to these  events as ‘Tourkoantarsia’ or Turkish Revolt. This  

is highly inaccurate though as both communities  mobilised their militias and during this phase   of the conflict, more Turkish Cypriots died  than Greek Cypriots. Now, both sides committed   atrocities against each other with incidents of  ethnic cleansing occurring in villages throughout   the island, including the mass grave of Turkish  Cypriots at Ayios Vasilios and at Omorfita near   Nicosia. There, a certain Nikos Sampson committed  atrocities against the Turkish Cypriot inhabitants   of the island. This isn’t the last time we hear  about Sampson either, as he becomes President   after a coup in 1974. Over 25,000 Turkish Cypriots  fled from mixed villages and into enclaves that   composed about 7% of the island’s landmass. There,  they were under military control by the TMT and  

the Turkish contingent but they couldn’t leave  as the Greek Cypriots had blockaded the enclaves.   If you were a Turkish Cypriot communist though,  your luck was doubly bad, as you were stuck with   your ideological enemies inside that small  space surrounded by your sectarian enemies.   It is for this reason that many chose  to flee abroad, largely to the UK.   As an intriguing side note, Cypriot historian  Nikos Moudouros notes on how every May 1st,   Turkish Cypriot communists would dress up  and do silent marches around these enclaves   in a form of silent protest. I have it on  good authority that they would then go to   restaurants and order food because any Cypriot  celebration, or protest, always includes food.  The Greek Cypriots were now in full control  of the official government of the island,   something which they felt then gave them a  monopoly over international representation.  

The various Greek Cypriot militias, which  interestingly did not include Grivas supporters,   began to be incorporated into the Cypriot  National Guard, a conscript army composed   of Greek Cypriot and Greek officers, designed to  isolate the Turkish Cypriots. These paramilitaries   were run by well known Greek Cypriot politicians  like Polykarpos Yiorkadjis and Vasos Lyssarides.  Violence continued through 1964, with  incidents which included the killing of   three Greek Cypriot and Greek police officers  after getting into the Turkish Cypriot enclave   of Famagusta/Gazimagusa. This resulted in the  Greek Cypriots blockading the Turkish enclaves.  Grivas returned in July 1964 to lead the  National Guard and one of his immediate   concerns was cutting off the supply of military  material coming from Turkey. While the Turkish  

contingent had provided some material,  heavy weapons came through the coastal   enclave of Kokkina or Erenköy. The Greek Cypriots  blockaded the coast and began to advance slowly   into the enclave starting on August 8th 1964. On  August 10th, the Turkish Air Force bombed Greek   Cypriot positions, causing them to retreat. Now, Turkey would have most likely invaded at   this point had it not been for two factors; the  United States and the USSR. President Johnson  

is said to have called the Turkish government  and to have ordered them not to invade, while   Nikita Khrushchev made proclamations in defence  of Makarios, who he saw as a Non-Aligned partner.   Soviet foreign policy towards Cyprus was friendly,  due to the presence of AKEL and the island’s   Non-Aligned status. However, they understood  that Cyprus would never “go communist” as a   result of rampant nationalism and the presence  of three NATO armies on the island, so they   were never keen to intervene heavily. But the issue remained that Greece,   Turkey and the United States were terrified of  both Makarios and AKEL, and Soviet proclamations   only heightened the fear of ‘communist  threats.’ In reality, the communists were   effectively 2nd class citizens, only backing  Makarios due to his pro-independence stance.  For the Turkish Cypriots, Kokkina/Erenkoy  is a tale of heroic defence, though many   felt dismayed by what they saw as Turkey’s delay  in providing assistance. Some of the defenders  

would even go on to found leftist opposition  parties, such as Alpay Durduran, the founder of   the Communal Liberation Party, the TKP. On the  Greek Cypriot side, AKEL which now was almost   exclusively run by Greek Cypriots, had decided  to back Makarios, just as the Turkish Cypriot   communists in their enclaves had done with Kucuk. However, instead of backing complete alignment   with Greece, they instead backed Makarios’  Non-Aligned foreign policy route as a means   of having autonomy from what they saw as  NATO imperialism. This seeming paradox of   supporting nationalism while trying to maneuver  is common for leftists throughout Cypriot history.  Some voices within the party and their Turkish  Cypriot comrades even openly agitated for peaceful   coexistence. Two of these were the Greek Cypriot  Kostas Misiaoulis and the Turkish Cypriot Dervish  

Ali Kavazoglu. They were both agitators  for peaceful coexistence, and Kavazoglu   had even stayed in AKEL. This caused the ire  of ultranationalists, which forced Kavazoglu   into hiding. On 11th April 1965, as they were  driving to a political meeting, they were ambushed   by the TMT and shot to death in their car. As a  result, they became an example of both bicommunal   solidarity as well as communist solidarity.  They are also emblematic of many anecdotal   occasions where Greek and Turkish civilians  would help each other escape persecution,   such as in the mixed villages of Pyla. 1. So what was happening on across the water?  

Well, in both Greece and Turkey, nationalism  and the desire to defend who they saw as their   respective provincial cousins, was on the rise.  This resulted in momentum going against more   moderate NATO-backed forces. This also extended  to leftist parties, such as the Workers’ Party in   Turkey, and the United Democratic Left  in Greece. Denktash and Demirel 1960s  Ironically, the deep states in  both Greece and Turkey which were   backed by NATO, were also the most militant. Denktash…remember him? He had fled to Turkey  

in 1963 and had begun to further his connections  to the Turkish deep state, particularly as the   Justice Party of Suleyman Demirel became more  entrenched. At the same time, just across   the Aegean, the Centre Union run by Giorgos  Papandreou, began to formulate the idea of the   National Centre, through which Greece would make  decisions and the Greek Cypriots would follow.   This made Makarios unhappy, as he had been  steadily moving towards a more independent,   albeit-Greek Cypriot centred approach. This was  despite his public support for Enosis. In 1964,  

the Greek government secretly sent over an  entire division of Greek troopers to the island,   allegedly to defend against a Turkish invasion  but it was also there to keep an eye on Makarios.  The UN, which was asked to establish a  peacekeeping force starting 1964, the United   Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus or UNFICYP,  had made some proposals for peace, but with little   progress to show for it. We should note that Kucuk  had organised a temporary Turkish Cypriot General   Committee to continue their political organisation  within the enclaves, and used these to continue   his operations. At the same time, as Greece  and Turkey continued to send further troops  

clandestinely to the island, their involvement  which had begun in the 1950s began to increase.  In 1965, with no end to the strife in  sight, a U.S. diplomat…well actually   none other than former US Secretary of  State Dean Acheson, attempted to form   a plan that could satisfy everyone and keep  both Greece and Turkey’s interests in mind.   Initially, he proposed 25%-27% of Cyprus to be  given to Turkey as a base, and for the rest of   the island to be given to Greece. He later  reduced it to a loaned 21% after the Finnish   UN-Mediator Sakari Tuomioja said the Greek  Cypriots would never accept a Turkish base.  

Turkish Cypriots would be moved to the location  of the bases or to highly autonomous cantons.  Makarios categorically rejected the first  Acheson plan, and Acheson later reduced it to   5% and for Greece to give its easternmost island  of Kastellorizo to Turkey. This plan was rejected   by Makarios even though Papandreou was somewhat  receptive. Within the Greek Cypriot community,  

the Acheson plan was considered a form of ‘Double  Enosis’, or a covert way to partition the island.  Kucuk was very much involved in matters as well on  the Turkish side, but he had begun to lose some of   his power base as Denktash posed himself as a  leader of the Turkish Cypriots while he was in   Turkey and urged Ankara to intervene. Grivas,  though a maximalist in favour of full Enosis,   actually considered the Acheson Plan to be  a reasonable one. It might seem paradoxical  

that Makarios was against the plan and Grivas in  favour, but we must understand that the Archbishop   represented the independence of the entire  island while Grivas wanted union with Greece.  In November 1967, Grivas decided to attack a  Turkish Cypriot enclave on the south of the   island, Kofinou, which he claimed would be  used to block the highway between Limassol   and Nicosia. This had happened previously  on the highway in the north between Nicosia   and Kyrenia/Girne with the help of Turkish  troops. Grivas organised troops and raided   Kofinou. This attack resulted in the deaths of  24 Turkish Cypriots, including unarmed civilians.   Turkey was furious and openly threatened to invade  the island. Makarios, who had been arguing over  

tactics with Grivas since EOKA’s campaigns, and  who had already changed his political course,   ordered Grivas to leave Cyprus for Greece. In the meantime, the hidden Greek division   had been discovered by the Greek Cypriots  and it was also gradually being withdrawn.   Grivas returned to a somewhat different Greece,  the result of a NATO-backed coup in April of 1967   which saw the installation of a military  junta. But as Grivas was leaving Cyprus,   Denktash had returned to the island, despite a  travel ban and was in hiding. He was discovered  

by Greek Cypriots in October and arrested. He was  imprisoned in Nicosia before being released and   sent back to Turkey. He would return after the ban  was lifted in 1968 taking up a spot as a Turkish   Cypriot negotiator opposite Glafkos Clerides,  a prominent moderate Greek Cypriot politician.  So as you can see, Cyprus in 1967 was very  different from 1960; still under an uneasy peace,   but now with even more blood being spilled since  the intercommunal violence of 1958. Geopolitical   and domestic developments in both Greece and  Turkey were also making the situation more   tense. The island was still a long way from the  explosions and invasion of 1974, but many more   events would continue to take place until then.  Nationalism and ideology combined with differing  

visions within each of these factors combined  with the geopolitical ambitions of both Greece and   Turkey to destabilize a fragile situation. Western  enablement of the worst elements of the respective   deep states in Athens and Ankara would only  make things worse. The communists on the island,   from both communities, would continue to  be second class citizens but it was the   internal conflicts between nationalists in both  communities that fanned the flames even further   leading to the Coup and Invasion in 1974. More  on that in a coming episode looking on Cyprus. 

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. I got  nothin’ this week on the bell button you need   to press so feel free to make your own suggestions  in the comments…Please consider supporting us on   Patreon at www.patreon.com/thecoldwar or through  YouTube membership. We can be reached via email   at thecoldwarchannel@gmail.com. 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.

2023-01-09 19:34

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