Cyprus Conflict - Political Aspects - Cold War DOCUMENTARY
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 www.patreon.com/thecoldwar or through YouTube membership. We can be reached via email at email@example.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.