What a fabulous article by
Prof. Pierre Oberling, spelling out real history and real geo-political
The TAT site constantly points out examples of false scholars who, by intent
and/or ignorance, present a one-sided version of events in a hypocritical
world prejudiced against Turks. Here is an example of a real scholar.
Thank you, Prof. Oberling, for your attention to real facts, to details, and
for your... what should be the duty of every true historian... honesty.
I'd like to suggest, in keeping with
this article's title, that it is not as though the E.U. has been caught
unawares by the shenanigans of Greeks. No, unfortunately, the E.U. is all too
willing a prejudiced accomplice. Shame on you, European Union! (Since the
writing of this piece, Greek Cyprus has been granted membership in the E.U.,
while Turkey, which is actually partly located in Europe — in contrast to
the island, entirely in Asia— has been kept waiting in the wings forever.
Frankly, I hope Turkey will never join this dishonest and bigoted
(An insightful letter follows. Also, a review
of one of Dr. Oberling's books.)
|THE DOUBLE REPRESENTATION
CONSPIRACY: HOW THE GREEK AND GREEK CYPRIOT GOVERNMENTS ARE PRECIPITATING A NEW CRISIS
IN CYPRUS BY USING THE EUROPEAN UNION
By Pierre Oberling, Ph.D. L.H.D. Professor of History at Hunter College of the City
University of New York
In his memoirs, Cyprus: My Deposition, Glafkos Clerides, the head of the Greek
Cypriot state, offers the following analysis of the roots of the Cyprus problem: Just as
the Greek Cypriot preoccupation [after the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in
1960] was that Cyprus should be a Greek Cypriot state, with a protected Turkish Cypriot
minority, the Turkish preoccupation was to defeat any such effort and to maintain the
partnership concept, which in their opinion the ' Zurich Agreement (of 1959) created
between the two communities. The conflict, therefore, was a conflict of principle and for
that principle both sides were prepared to go on arguing and even, if need be, to fight,
rather than compromise.
At first glance, this appears to be an objective statement, for it blames both sides
equally for the tragedy, which took place in the 1960's and 1970's. But, upon further
examination, the flaws in Clerides's argument become ever more salient. The truth of the
matter is that the Greek Cypriot preoccupation, as we shall see, was not that Cyprus
should be a Greek Cypriot state but a Greek state, and it was not to contain a protected
Turkish Cypriot minority but no Turkish Cypriots at all.
The conflict was indeed a conflict of principle, but the principles
in question were fundamental ones that had already been straining relations between Greeks
and Turks well beyond the confines of the small island of Cyprus for over 150 years-namely
Greek nationalism vs. Turkish pluralism. Therefore, in order to understand the genesis of
the Cyprus dispute, it is necessary to go as far back as the Greek War of Independence of
In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Greek merchants and shipping tycoons in
the major commercial centers of Europe were influenced by the secular ideas of the
Enlightenment, as well as by the then fashionable Philhellenic literary movement. They
acquired an historical consciousness and growing pride in the achievements of the ancient
Greeks. Then, riding the crest of the tidal wave of nationalism, which swept Europe after
the Napolenic wars, they began to agitate for Greek independence.
Nationalism rapidly caught on in the Greek provinces of the Ottoman Empire, and soon
Greeks of all classes rose against their Turkish overlords. But the liberal nationalism
preached by Westernized Greeks, which corresponded to the social, economic and political
realities of Western Europe, underwent a complete metamorphosis as more and more
non-Westernized Greeks joined the struggle and adapted the new ideology to the mentality
of the people of Greece. There, the mostly agrarian inhabitants were still tradition-
bound. If they were receptive to nationalism, it was because, through the centuries of
Ottoman rule, it was the local priests who had kept alive their sense of cultural
identity. Therefore, the Greece that most Greeks hoped to bring back to life was not the
Hellas of Pericles (so dear to Westernized Greeks) but Orthodox Byzantium.
As Professor Dennis Skiotis of Harvard University has written in a perceptive article:
This millenarian expectation that a day would surely dawn when God would lift the
infidel yoke from his chosen people and would restore to them the Christian Roman Empire
in all its majesty and splendor is of fundamental importance in understanding how the
Greeks perceived their historical identity and destiny.
Even Rhigas Pheraios, for all his European veneer, showed that deep in his soul he
held a similar vision when he composed his famous war song, Thourios, in which he
urged his fellow-Greeks to put all of the Ottoman empire to the torch, "from
Bosnia to Arabia."
As the heady wine of religious passion mixed with the already intoxicating nectar of
political nationalism, it became inevitable that the Greek War of Independence would
turn into a religious crusade. In the words of Professor Skiotis,
With savage jubilance, [the Greeks] sang the words 'let no Turk remain in the
Morea, nor in the whole world.' The Greeks were determined to achieve to Romaiko
(that is, the Romaic restoration) in the only way they knew how: through a war of
In his book, That Greece Might Still be Free, William St. Clair described the
ensuing carnage thus:
The Turks of Greece left few traces. They disappeared suddenly and finally in the
spring of 1821 unmourned and unnoticed by the rest of the world... Upwards of twenty
thousand Turkish men, women, and children were murdered by their Greek neighbours in
a few weeks of slaughter.
In his monumental treatise on the Greek War of Independence, the Greek historian,
Spyridon Trikoupis, described how the entire Muslim population of Tripolitsa, the
capital of the Pelopponese, was annihilated by Greek forces after it had already
He wrote: The day of the seizure of the Pelopponesian capital was a day of
destruction, fire, pillage and blood. Men, women, children, all perished, some with
their throats cut, some thrown into the flames which rose in the middle of the city,
others crushed under the roofs and floors of houses which had been put to the
torch... These scenes lasted three days. On the third, those who had fled the city
before it had been captured were slaughtered in the countryside... The fury of the
pillage was such that most of the houses were even stripped of all wood.
In the years following the Greek War of Independence, the deep-felt desire to
achieve the Romaic restoration was raised by the Greek government to the status of a
national ideology. This was the famous Megali Idea or "Great Idea," which
was to figure so prominently in shaping the modern Greek nation.
Several times during the century following the Greek War of
Independence, Greece attacked Turkey — in 1877, 1897, 1912, and 1919, and each
time a wholesale slaughter of the Muslim population took place. For example, when
Greece invaded Crete in February 1897, the 80 Muslim villages in the centre of the
island were entirely destroyed, and when Aydin was occupied by the Greeks in June
1919, nearly ten thousand Muslims were killed in one day alone.
But Muslims were not the only victims of Greek nationalism. Jews were too. Under
Ottoman rule, the important seaport of Salonica had become a largely Jewish city.
When it was occupied by Greece in 1912, its character rapidly changed, for the
Greeks' policy of forced Hellenization caused an exodus of Jews from the city. As
the article "Salonika" in the Encyclopedia Judaica informs us, this
anti-Semitic attitude reached its peak in the so-called "Campbell Riots,"
in which an entire Jewish neighbourhood was burned to the ground.
I am not saying that Greeks are a more cruel or violent people than any other. What
I am saying is that their nationalism, because of its religious overtones, has
promoted intolerance, aggressiveness and extreme ethnocentrism, and that it has, in
areas occupied by Greece, inevitably led to what we today call "ethnic
interrupts: Is not the above paragraph the perfect description as to the
behavior of the Armenians? "Willful Deception" is another ingredient I
would add to the mix of these Orthodox folks.
The Ottoman Empire found it difficult to deal
with Greek nationalism. Its own policy toward ethnic minorities had always been one
of inclusiveness, not exclusiveness. This had been institutionalised in the
"Millet System," which had given all ethnic groups within the empire
complete religious and cultural autonomy. When the various Christian minorities of
the Balkans began to struggle for independence, the Ottoman reaction was in keeping
with the empire's tradition of pluralism. It promoted an ideology which, in fact,
was the very opposite of the Megali Idea — namely "Pan Ottomanism." It
was a secular ideology that reaffirmed the inclusiveness, which had been the
cornerstone of the Millet System. The civil liberties of all ethnic groups within
the empire were guaranteed by means of two decrees, the "Rescript" of the
Rose Chamber of 1839, and the "Rescript" of 1856. They were also
guaranteed by the Constitution of 1876, which declared that "All subjects of
the Empire are, without distinction, called 'Ottomans' whatever religion they
profess" and that "All Ottomans are equal in the eyes of the law."
However, Pan-Ottomanism was not able to prevent the disintegration of the Ottoman empire,
which occurred in 1918, as a result of World War I. Having realised that the Ottoman
empire could not be saved, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the new national leader, decided to make
a clean break with the past. Believing that language is the touchstone of nationality, he
created a new nation, the Republic of Turkey, out of those parts of the empire, which were
inhabited by a majority of Turkish-speaking people. Moreover, in order to avoid friction
with Turkey's neighbours, he relinquished all territorial claims beyond Eastern Thrace,
Anatolia and the Sanjak of Alexandretta. "Rather than increasing the number of our
enemies and their coercion over us by chasing concepts, which we cannot realise," he
recommended, "let us withdraw to our national and legitimate limits." Thus, his
political creed, "Turkism," was a fundamentally pacific ideology.
Ataturk's reluctance to intervene in the internal affairs of foreign countries was so
pronounced that he did not even contemplate intervention in the affairs of countries that
contained oppressed Turkish minorities.
As he said: Although our nationalism loves all Turks... with a deep feeling of
brotherhood, and although it desires with all its soul their wholesale development, yet it
recognises that its political activity must end at the borders of the Turkish Republic.
Instead, he encouraged Turks living beyond the frontiers of modern Turkey to form
partnership states with other nationalities.
While Ataturk was founding modern Turkey and setting limits to its national aspirations,
the Greeks were still trying to fulfil the Megali Idea. Indeed, with the disintegration of
the Ottoman Empire, the expectations of Greek nationalists rose to unprecedented heights.
A leading Athenian daily, Eleftheron Vema, reflecting the prevailing optimism, stated that
"Any Greek who thinks Greece is not going to receive Thrace and Asia Minor must be
mad." Even such a normally reasonable statesman as Premier Eleftherios Venizelos
promised his countrymen a "Greece of two continents and five seas."
The Greek debacle in Anatolia in the 1920's represented the first major obstacle to the
fulfilment of the Megali Idea, and the population exchange that resulted from the Treaty
of Lausanne robbed the Megali Idea of its ethnic basis in Anatolia. But there remained the
island of Cyprus. Because, by that time, Cyprus had become a British crown colony, it was
not affected by the population-exchange agreement, and, consequently, it retained its
ethnically mixed population.
Makarios (from "Attila '74")
Because Cyprus was the last fragment of the former
Ottoman Empire where there was an ethnic basis for the Megali Idea, all the remaining
expansive energies of the upholders of that ideology were concentrated on it. Predictably
enough, when the Greek Cypriots launched their guerrilla campaign against the British in
the 1950's; they were strongly backed by Greece and advocated Enosis, or union with
Greece. Just as predictably, their nationalism had a religious basis. In fact, they were
led by a priest, Archbishop Makarios III. Therefore, they also aimed at the complete
Hellenization of the island and the ouster of the Turkish Cypriots, who had lived in
Cyprus since the sixteenth century and comprised a substantial part of its population.
caused a lot of Grief
With substantial assistance from Greece and the able military
leadership of George Grivas, a Greek officer of Cypriot birth, the Greek Cypriot guerrilla
organisation, known as EOKA, succeeded in exerting mounting pressure upon British forces
on the island, with the result that British determination to hold on to Cyprus steadily
As EOKA became ever stronger with the help of Greece, and as Turkish Cypriots increasingly
fell victim to its acts of aggression, the Turkish Cypriots came to rely ever more heavily
upon British protection. But when British resolve began to evaporate, they turned toward
Turkey for salvation. The Turkish government was reluctant to interfere in what it
considered as essentially a British problem. Moreover, it was preoccupied with the threat
of Soviet expansion and was eager to make NATO (which Greece and Turkey had joined in
February 1952) work smoothly, which necessitated maintaining harmonious relations with
Greece. But highly provocative statements by Greek politicians, which showed beyond the
shadow of a doubt that the Megali Idea was far from dead (even in 1964, Premier George
Papandreou was to declare that "Cyprus must become the springboard for the dreams of
Alexander the Great in the Orient"), greatly alarmed the Turkish government. As a
result, the prospect of a Greek bastion of strength being established a mere 40 miles from
Turkey's southern littoral was regarded by the Turks as a potential threat to their
national security. This legitimised, in their eyes, at least a measure of support for the
embattled Turkish Cypriots, and they began to involve themselves more and more openly in
the civil war which was raging in Cyprus by providing assistance to the Turkish Cypriots
in their desperate struggle against EOKA terrorists.
After a while, Makarios and his Greek supporters began to realise that a complete deadlock
had been reached: the Greek Cypriots were much stronger than the Turkish Cypriots, but the
Turks were much stronger than the Greeks. This problem was finally resolved by a series of
compromises known as the "Zurich-London Accords" of 1959, which led to the
establishment of an independent, bilingual, bicommunal republic with a Greek Cypriot
president and a Turkish Cypriot vice president. A Treaty of Guarantee was then signed by
Archbishop Makarios, as well as by representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community, the
United Kingdom, Turkey and Greece. In it, the Republic of Cyprus pledged itself to
"ensure the maintenance of its independence, territorial integrity and security, as
well as respect for its constitution," and not to "participate, in whole or in
part, in any political or economic union with any State whatsoever." Moreover, it
declared as prohibited "any activity likely to promote, directly or indirectly,
either union with any other State or partition of the Island." At the same time,
Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom pledged themselves "to prohibit, so far as
concerns them, any activity aimed at promoting, directly or indirectly, either union of
Cyprus with any other State or partition of the Island". Finally, a Treaty of
Alliance, which drastically limited the number of Greek and Turkish troops, which could be
stationed on the island, was also signed by all parties concerned.
The Turkish Cypriots were fully satisfied with this arrangement, especially in as
much as the Constitution of 1960 guaranteed their civil rights and gave them a veto
power over legislation aimed at destroying the independence of Cyprus or altering
their political status. The Turks were also satisfied, for the threat to their
security in the Eastern Mediterranean had been eliminated and a Greek
Cypriot-Turkish Cypriot Partnership State had been established which, at least on
paper, promised to bring about stability in the region. This would enable the Turks,
who had no territorial ambitions in Cyprus, to direct their attention once more to
But the Greek Cypriots, under the leadership of Archbishop Makarios, who had become
the first president of Cyprus, regarded independence as but a stepping-stone toward
union with Greece, and, from the very beginning of his mandate, Makarios sought the
complete Hellenization of the island, in spite of the fact that he had signed the
Zurich-London Accords and the Cypriot Constitution, which had officially renounced
Enosis. As he put it: "Unless this small Turkish community forming a part of
the Turkish race... is expelled, the duties of the heroes of EOKA can never be
considered as terminated." Consequently, EOKA was reconstituted to bring about
the destruction of the Republic of Cyprus and the annexation of the island by
For the purposes of establishing the legal framework for Enosis and neutralising all
opposition to his scheme, Makarios first forced the resignation of the distinguished
German jurist who was serving as president of the Supreme Constitutional Court. Then
he implemented a plan, the so-called "Akritas Plan", with the aim of
cowing the Turkish Cypriots into submission.
According to this plan, the Turkish Cypriots would be presented with a series of
proposed amendments to the Constitution of 1960, which would deprive them of rights
which were so fundamental that they were included in the unalterable "Basic
Articles" of the Constitution, such as that of having veto power over
governmental decisions, of having their own municipalities, and of being judged by
their own peers. Should Turkish Cypriots reject these amendments, the Greek Cypriots
would "show their strength to the Turks immediately and forcefully," with
the result that the Turkish Cypriots would "probably be brought to their
The amendments were submitted to the Turkish Cypriot leadership on November 30,
1963, but even before the Turkish, Cypriots had had time to complete their study of
the projected constitutional changes, EOKA and other paramilitary organisations went
into action, slaughtering Turkish Cypriots indiscriminately. At the same time,
Makarios dismissed all of the Turkish Cypriot civil servants, cabinet ministers and
members of parliament.
World reaction to these outrages was heartbreakingly disappointing. Even though the
slaughter of Turkish Cypriot townspeople and villagers was so extensive that the
U.S. under secretary of state, George W. Ball, accused Makarios of turning Cyprus
into his "private abattoir," the United Nations did not issue any
protests. Moreover, even though a coup was clearly in the making, the aim of which
was to destroy the independence and territorial integrity of the Cypriot Republic,
world governments at once recognised the illegal and savagely repressive Greek
Cypriot government, and Great Britain refused to intervene though it was mandated to
do so by the Treaty of Guarantee. To top it all, when Turkey then signalled its
intention of honouring the treaty, the U.S. President, Lyndon B. Johnson, sent Prime
Minister Ismet Inonu a rebuke that was so harsh that it was called in Turkey
"the diplomatic equivalent of an atomic bomb."
In June 1964, the Greek government, encouraged by the world's indifference to
Turkish Cypriot suffering, dispatched 20,000 troops to beef up Makarios's forces,
which included the Greek-officered National Guard, which had been created in
violation of the Treaty of Alliance. Although Makarios warned the Turkish government
that "should Turkey intervene to save Turkish Cypriots, it would find no
Turkish Cypriots to save," the Greek invasion finally provoked a Turkish
military response, namely the strafing of some of Makarios's troops by Turkish
military aircraft. This action, though extremely modest in scale, at last convinced
Makarios that further acts of violence would be counterproductive. As a result, his
campaign of terror against the Turkish Cypriot community gradually subsided.
But Makarios had not given up on his plan to get rid of the Turkish Cypriot
community. He had merely changed tactics. During the period immediately following
the massacres of 1963 and 1964, the Greek Cypriot leaders reaffirmed their goal of
achieving Enosis, and they gradually dismantled every aspect of the Cypriot
partnership state through a series of acts that were totally unconstitutional. At
the same time, in the hope of encouraging the Turkish Cypriots to leave Cyprus,
Makarios herded all of them into small, overcrowded enclaves which, in their
totality, covered only 3 per cent of the territory of Cyprus and which were
surrounded by fortifications. Each of these enclaves was allowed to import only
enough food for bare subsistence, and was denied all government services, except for
the issuance of exit visas - which once more demonstrates that Clerides's assertion
that the Greek Cypriot preoccupation was "that Cyprus should be a Greek Cypriot
state, with a protected Turkish Cypriot minority" is completely unfounded.
In 1967, there was another wave of attacks against Turkish Cypriot villages. Once
more, Turkey threatened punitive action, and the raids ceased. In November of that
year an agreement was worked out between Greece and Turkey that provided for the
withdrawal from Cyprus within 45 days of all Greek troops in excess of those
permitted by the Treaty of Alliance, the dissolution of the illegal National Guard,
and compensation by the Greek Cypriot government to the victims of Greek Cypriot
savagery. Needless to say, however, Makarios never bothered to comply with the
Also in 1967, the Greek Cypriot House of Representatives (which consisted only of
the Greek Cypriot members of the former House and continued to legislate illegally)
passed the following resolution:
Interpreting the age-long aspirations of the Greeks of Cyprus, the House declares
that, despite any adverse circumstances, it will not suspend the struggle conducted
with the support of all Greeks, until this struggle succeeds in uniting the whole
and undivided Cyprus with the Motherland, without any intermediate stages.
Sampson. You know how Peter
Parker would take shots of Spider-Man
because he was Spider-Man? Sampson
would also be the first reporter at a
terrorist killing... because he
terrorist doing the killing!
In late 1973, General Dimitrios Ioannides who,
in 1963, together with a Greek Cypriot journalist and well-known political assassin
by the name of Nikos Sampson, had presented Makarios with a plan for the liquidation
of the entire Turkish Cypriot community, became dictator of Greece. Needing an
immediate triumph to compensate for the Greek junta's declining popularity, he
decided to overthrow Makarios, whom he considered much too timid in the pursuit of
Enosis, and to replace him with a more militant leader.
The Greek strongman was obviously encouraged by the reluctance of Turkey to resort
to force in the crises of 1964 and 1967, and by its extremely limited military
response to even the most blatant provocation in 1964. He calculated that the
Turkish government would make no serious effort to prevent a swiftly and efficiently
executed Enosist coup in Cyprus backed up by the full might of the Greek army. Once
more, Greek troops were smuggled into Cyprus, and, in July 1974, these troops, along
with the Greek-officered and illegal National Guard, carried out the planned coup.
Makarios was put to flight and replaced by the notorious Nikos Sampson. A massacre
of the adherents of Makarios, as well as of the Turkish Cypriot population, began at
The Turkish government appealed, but in vain, to the governments of the United
States and Great Britain to put an end to the bloodshed and to prevent Greece from
taking over Cyprus. Finally, the Turkish government decided to act on its own. The
Turkish intervention, which resulted, was legal according to the Treaty of Guarantee
of 1960. Its legality was even upheld by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council
of Europe in a resolution adopted on July 29, 1974, namely Resolution 532 (1974). In
any case, the Turks had clearly been provoked beyond endurance. As Evangelos
Yannopoulos, the Greek Minister of Maritime Affairs, put it in an article which was
published in 1988: "How was it possible to topple Makarios, start slaughtering
the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, and impose a madman like Sampson to head
the Cyprus Government and yet expect no reaction from Turkey?"
The Turkish intervention caused the collapse of the military dictatorship in Greece
and of the brutal Sampson regime in Cyprus. It prevented the occupation of Cyprus by
Greece, thus keeping alive the possibility of establishing a new partnership state
on the island. Finally, it ended intercommunal strife and ushered in a period of
peace, which has lasted to this day.
As Turkish troops landed in northern Cyprus, most of the Turkish Cypriots from the
south of the island moved north, and most of the Greek Cypriots from the north of
the island moved south. In August 1975, Rauf Denktas and Glafkos Clerides,
negotiating on behalf of their respective communities, signed a formal agreement,
which recognised the population exchanges that had taken place and sanctioned
further such exchanges.
But all these dramatic events had little impact on Turkey's policy toward Cyprus.
The Turkish government remained steadfastly faithful to Ataturk's non-expansive
ideology of Turkism and claimed not a square inch of Cypriot territory. Instead, it
promoted intercommunal negotiations for the purpose of establishing in Cyprus a
federation in which the rights of both communities would be equally protected.
In early 1977, a series of intercommunal talks was launched under the auspices of the
United Nations, and with the enthusiastic backing of the Turkish government. These talks
made what optimists felt was a promising start, but, with Makarios's sudden death in
August of that year, a complete stalemate became inevitable. His successor as Greek
Cypriot president, Foreign Minister Spyros Kyprianou, was a relentless hard-liner who
referred to the period of Greek Cypriot hegemony in Cyprus, when the entire Turkish
Cypriot population was squeezed into tiny, overcrowded enclaves and thousands of Turkish
Cypriots were forced to emigrate to Turkey and Great Britain in order to survive, as the
"happiest of times." By means of a trade embargo upon the Turkish Cypriot
economy, and, by means of what he called "aggressive diplomacy," he put pressure
on foreign governments to observe the embargo and to try to convince the Turkish
government to withdraw its troops from Northern Cyprus. He also attempted to elicit from
the United Nations a resolution condemning Turkey for its actions in Cyprus. At the same
time, he showed little interest in continuing the intercommunal talks, arguing that he was
not interested in negotiating with mere "rebels." In fact, he was so
intransigent that his own foreign minister, Nikos Rolandis, called him the "enemy of
Although the embargo caused considerable economic distress in the Turkish Cypriot
community, the Turkish Cypriots learned to become increasingly self-sufficient, and
Turkish support for the Turkish Cypriots did not flag. Furthermore, the United Nations was
far from wholehearted in its endorsement of Kyprianou's position. It never actually
condemned the Turkish intervention of 1974 and never called it an "invasion."
Instead, it emphasised that any solution to the Cyprus problem can only be based upon the
equality of the two communities in Cyprus.
Indeed, the only concrete result of Kyprianou's policies was to convince the Turkish
Cypriots to form their own independent state. They had been made stateless by the Greek
Cypriots in 1963, and they had been living in their own separate homelands since they had
been confined to their own enclaves shortly thereafter. By November 1983, they had been
forced to govern themselves for already twenty years, and they felt that the only way that
they could jolt Kyprianou into negotiating with them on a realistic basis - that is as
equal partners in founding a new state - was to declare their own independence. Thus, the
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus came into being.
The Greek Cypriots, gradually lost faith in Kyprianou's ability to bring about a
satisfactory solution to the Cyprus problem and, in February 1988, he was defeated for
re-election. In his campaign, his successor, a businessman named George Vassiliou had
spoken of the necessity of launching a "peace offensive" and of "building
bridges of trust with the Turkish Cypriots." But, once in office, he quickly
reassured the electorate that he had no intention of changing the national goals of Enosis
and the complete Hellenization of the island. He did not propose repealing the Greek
Cypriot House of Representative's Enosist resolution of 1967, and he described Cyprus as
"a bastion of Greece." His only aim, it seems, was to resume the intercommunal
talks so as to convince the Turkish Cypriots that they were in such dire straits because
of the embargo that it would be in their interest to become once more an unprotected
minority in a Greek Cypriot - dominated state, which was a vain hope. As could be
expected, in the negotiations, which ensued, the Turkish Cypriots insisted that their
survival in a future Cypriot federation depended upon its being a bizonal partnership
state with Turkey remaining as a guarantor state. However, this was obviously unacceptable
to Vassiliou, for such a solution would make Enosis and the complete Hellenization of the
island an impossibility. Therefore, the intercommunal talks petered out inconclusively.
When Vassiliou discussed his proposals in a speech to the Parliamentary Assembly of the
Council of Europe in Strasbourg on January 31, 1990, three members of the British House of
Commons who were present, Keith Speed, Andrew Faulds and Michael Knowles, wrote a report
that contained the following apt remarks: "When
Mr. Vassiliou was elected, we hoped that he would bring a new realism to the affairs of
Cyprus, but we have been disappointed. This speech shows that, like his predecessors, he
does not understand that the behaviour of the Greek Cypriots toward the Turkish Cypriots
has made it impossible to go forward on the basis of trust and confidence.
Mr. Vassiliou's insistence that the Turkish troops must leave demonstrates that he is not
willing to understand the fundamental concerns of the Turkish Cypriots. He expects them to
be satisfied with his assurances, with written safeguards, and with international
guarantees, but is well aware that the I960 Constitution guaranteed their rights and was
ignored, that U.N. troops were meant to protect them but failed, that international
guarantees Likewise failed, and that the only factor which saved them at the eleventh hour
was the Turkish army. "
In any case, Vassiliou lost his credibility as a peacemaker that year when he
applied for full Greek Cypriot membership in the European Union, for it was in
direct violation of the Treaty of Guarantee, the Zurich-London Accords and the
Constitution of 1960.
In February 1993, Vassiliou was, in turn, voted out of office by the Greek Cypriot
electorate. He was succeeded by the veteran politician Glafkos Clerides. Like
Vassiliou, Clerides has thus far not proposed repeal of the Enosist resolution of
1967, and he has echoed his predecessor's nationalist sentiments by describing
Cyprus as "a small part of the Greek nation." Moreover, under his
leadership, the Greek Cypriot government has once more opted for a confrontational
policy toward the Turkish Cypriots. Encouraged by the indifference shown by the
leaders of the European Union regarding the flaunting by the Greek Cypriot
government of an international treaty in unilaterally applying for full membership
in that body, Clerides has made the application the main thrust of his foreign
For the Greek Cypriot government, as well as for the Greek government, Greek Cypriot
membership in the European Union would be an enormous asset. It would automatically
double Greek membership in the Council of Ministers and in the European Commission,
and it would increase Greek membership in the European Parliament. Thus, Greek
influence in the European Union would be substantially enhanced, and, because in the
European Union there is no counterbalancing Turkish influence (as there is at the
United Nations and in N.A.T.O.), Greece's interpretation of events in the Eastern
Mediterranean would be unchallenged. This danger was duly noted in the "Daily
Brief," published in the Oxford Analytica on December 22, 1994:
If Greek controlled Cyprus became a member, there would be two Greek votes and
two potential Greek vetoes in the E. U. These votes might well be deployed against
the wishes of the other members of the E.U. not only vis-à-vis Turkey, but also in
Balkan affairs and other matters.
The most alarming aspect of this situation is that, because all the more fanatical
exponents of Greek nationalism in both Greece and the Greek Cypriot state have come
to realise that little more can be expected in the way of support from the United
Nations and N.A.T.O., they have put all their hopes in the European Union.
Membership in the European Union would, in fact, constitute their last chance to
exert international pressure upon the Turks and the Turkish Cypriots to bend to
their will, and their last opportunity to intimidate them in a show of force.
Therefore, there is an edge of desperation to their quest for membership which might
well lead to another catastrophic miscalculation, like the 1974 coup, for they
expect much more from the European Union than that body is likely to deliver in a
showdown with Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
There are already ominous signs in Cyprus of an impending conflict. Under Greek
prodding, the Greek Cypriots have become engaged in a steadily escalating series of
border violations and acts of provocation directed against the Turkish Cypriot
State. These reached a new level of virulence in August and September 1996,
resulting in casualties on both sides. For instance, on September 8, I996, a number
of Greek Cypriot armed men penetrated into Turkish Cypriot territory in the vicinity
of Guvercinlik and shot two Turkish Cypriot border guards, one fatally.
Meanwhile, the military integration of Southern Cyprus with Greece by means of the
so-called "Joint Defence Doctrine" has been accelerated. A new Greek Air
Force base is being constructed in Paphos, as well as a navy base, and the Greek
Cypriot armed forces are being greatly strengthened. The Greek Cypriot
administration spends approximately two million dollars per day on armaments, and
with the introduction of the new five-year rearmament program this year (1997), this
sum will increase. Already, the Greek Cypriots spend a higher percentage of their
gross domestic product on defence than most other countries, including the United
The scale of arms purchasing by the Greek Cypriot administration has reached truly
massive proportions. A large number of French-made anti-ship missiles and
Italian-made Aspida anti- aircraft missiles, as well as a variety of anti-tank
missiles, have been purchased. Initially, the Greek Cypriots had 52 AMX-30 B-2
French--made tanks. These were augmented by another 52 AMX-30 B-2's sent by Greece.
41 Russian T-80 tanks and numerous Russian BMP-3 armoured personnel carriers have
also been purchased.
Finally, on January 4, 1997, the Greek Cypriot administration concluded a new
multi-million dollar deal with the Russian Federation for the acquisition of
sophisticated S-300 long-range missiles. As Nicholas Burns, the U.S. State
Department spokesman, commented: "The Greek Cypriot decision introduces a new
and destabilising element in this island and in the region... This new missile
system threatens to take the arms build-up on Cyprus to a new and disturbing
Insightful letter in response to the usual one-sided press reportage.
18. August 2006
I have read both articles on Cyprus by your European Editor Stephen Castle, and as a
Turkish Cypriot who lost everything in Cyprus and as one who was literally forced
out of Cyprus by Greek nationalist policies, wish to comment:
It hurts me to read again and again that the so-called Cyprus conflict apparently
began in 1974. Britain knows best that the Cyprus conflict goes way back to 1955,
when Archbishop Makarios together with General Grivas of Greece set up the terror
organisation called EOKA with the clearly defined aim of ENOSIS — union with
Greece. True that during the first EOKA- War, the brunt of Greek terror was taken by
the British armed forces, but, what about the 11 years (1963-1974) of terror and
ethnic cleansing suffered by the Turkish Cypriots? Why did you not even mention
Furthermore, it is a well known fact that South Cyprus alone should not have been
made an EU-member. Existing legal agreements (London-Zurich 1960) forbid that. Under
Greek threats, and possibly in line with main stream EU policy, legalities and
international agreements were pushed aside! The Cyprus conflict in its present form
suits many European countries which see Cyprus as an estoppel for Turkey's
Yes, the Greeks and the EU have been very clever, but the question is, did this
cleverness bring them nearer to a solution, or not? The answer is definitely not.
And, as Iraq and Lebanon show, military options are still very real and open. When
one side is so clever and believes to have all the political cards on his side, then
he must be ready to fight and die for it. Is the EU ready to fight for their Greek
cousins? Possibly not!!
No, as Turkish Cypriots we do not want the UN to take over anything in North Cyprus,
thank you very much. We also don't care much what eventually the EU is going to tell
Turkey. If we sacrificed all our rights in Cyprus, it would never be enough to pay
for Turkey's dreamed membership. Unfortunately for some, but thank God for others.
Kufi Seydali, M.Sc. DIC.
Turkish Cypriot Association in Europe
(The main article, "UN may take over ports to solve Cypriot rift," by
Stephen Castle, appeared in the 16 August 2006 issue; "The Independent,"
home of Robert Fisk, is not generally
known for its Turk-friendliness.)
Cyprus: Setting the Record Straight
The Road to Bellapais
By Pierre Oberling
Columbia University Press
$14.95, 258 pp.
Few subjects have been debated on Capitol Hill with more exuberant ignorance than Cyprus;
but here is a book which dispassionately sets the passionate record straight.
It is sobering to be reminded that when the Muslim Turks freed Christian Athens from Rome,
and the Cypriots from the Crusaders, they were welcomed as liberators. Professor Oberling
contrasts the haven offered by the Ottoman Empire — until its last, decadent century —
to Christians and Jews, notably during the Inquisition, and the autonomous millet
government which such communities enjoyed, to the Greek slaughter of Muslims and Jews all
over Greece and the Mediterranean islands.
In Cyprus, the Greek campaign for uniting the former Ottoman island (seized as war
reparations by Britain after World War I) to Greece is known as enosis. The Turks, victims
of 10 wars of aggression in the 19th century, had joined the Central Powers in the hope of
recovering some territory from Russia. A harsh peace in 1920 had given nearly all Turkey’s
islands, and part of Anatolia, to the Greeks, with Lloyd George abetting Premier Venizelos’
claims. Then, Kemal Atatürk’s success in liberating lzmir and its hinterland ended the
careers of Venizelos and the British prime minister.
This, Oberling reasons, hardened the already anti-Muslim attitude of British colonial
administrators toward the Turks, despite Turkish passivity and the independentist riots by
Greek Cypriot nationalists. After World War II, these riots grew into war under a Greek
general, Grivas, and a portly divine, Archbishop Makarios, who sought to rid the island of
both the British and Turks and proclaim enosis.
Oherling recounts grim stories of massacres, with appalling cruelty being committed
especially against women, children, old people, and the patients and staffs of hospitals.
A Hunter College professor who has studied and taught in Greece, and speaks the language, he
recounts in chilling detail the EOKA (Greek guerrilla movement) pogrom against the Turks in
1963, in which one of the theoretically illegal militias was led by Makarios’ minister of
the interior and another by the Ethnarch’s personal physician.
events, which caused 25,000 Turks to leave their homes..."
The author tells of Makarios’ eternal procrastinations and prevarications, his
failure to implement the independence constitution, the appointment of EOKA assassins
to the cabinet, Greece’s dispatch of 20,000 clandestine troops to destabilize the
island, and the changing role of Moscow, as the Kremlin sought to exploit each
vicissitude — sometimes courting Makarios, sometimes Ankara. Makarios had to humor
Akel, the Greek-Cypriot Communist party, because it was the largest in the
legislature, and he toyed with the Soviet Union when it suited him.
Under the 1960 Zurich Treaty of Guarantee, Britain, Greece and Turkey had agreed to
protect the island’s independence. In 1963, however, Turkey was persuaded by
President Johnson not to intervene during the pogrom, since the issue divided two NATO
allies. A plan devised by U.S. Gen. Lyman L. Lernnitzer, the NATO commander, and
agreed to by Turkey, Greece, Britain and the Turkish-Cypriot community, for the
dispatch of a 10,000-man NATO force, including 2,000 Americans, to keep the peace, was
vetoed by Makarios. Under Secretary George Ball tried to change the prelate’s mind,
and left accusing him of trying to make the island “his private abattoir.”
The outcome was the stationing of a UN force, which has now been there for 19 years.
Its best moment came early, when Makarios threatened on radio to “order the massacre
of the entire Turkish population”; the UN then threatened to withdraw and leave
Cyprus open for a Turkish invasion. Makarios backed down.
Oberling dates the present geographical partition of the island from the 1963-64
events, which caused 25,000 Turks to leave their homes in mixed areas for UN-protected
enclaves, and the Political partition from Makarios’ decision to fire all Turkish
officials in the government and to cease to register Turkish births as part of the
population. He notes: “The 1963-64 crisis was an unusual phenomenon: it was not a
revolution by a downtrodden majority against an arrogant, oppressive minority, but a
revolution by an arrogant, oppressive majority against a downtrodden minority.”
There was a brief hope of a Cypriot, rather than a Greek, solution with the advent of
the Athens junta. This divided Greece (and Grivas) from the left wing archbishop, who
even founded a newspaper critical of the “colonels.” After Grivas’ death in
1974, Makarios summoned the courage to ban EOKA-B, Grivas’ underground army, which
continued to kill Turks and UN soldiers. From Athens, the junta leader, Gen. Dimitrios
loannides, ordered the Cypriot National Guard to seize power and put Makarios to
death. The guard seized the capital and major towns and called for enosis.
The rest is more familiar history. The final pogrom never took place. Turkey, unable
to persuade Britain to exercise its treaty duties, intervened in Cyprus alone, under
Article IV of the Zurich pact. This led to the overthrow of the Athens junta and the
restoration of democracy in Greece, which in turn caused the fall of “President”
Nikos Sampson of EOKA-B, who had been put in power by the National Guard, and
eventually to the return of the Greek-Cypriot national hero, Makarios, who had fled
The Turkish-Cypriot leader, Raul Denktash, and the new conservative president in
Nicosia, Glafcos Clerides, met and decided on a federal form of government. There was
an exchange of populations, with all Turks leaving the South for the area occupied by
Turkish forces, and most Greeks leaving the North; over a thousand, however, remained
—and remain — voluntarily under Turkish rule. In 1977, Makarios, back in power,
signed an agreement with Denktash on a “bi-zonal federal” government; but after
his death there was no successor in Nicosia with enough authority to implement it.
The ironic benefits which Turkish intervention in Cyprus had conferred on Athens and
Nicosia were swiftly forgotten. A humiliated Greece had even withdrawn from NATO—even
though Congress, misdirected by an awesomely mendacious Greek lobby, voted a partial
arms embargo on Turkey which lasted four years. Turkey retaliated by taking over US
bases and closing NSA monitoring facilities.
Oberling proposes no solution, for in a sense the problem is solved. President
Kyprianou of Greek Cyprus flies the Greek, not the Cypriot, flag on his palace and
limousine, as Makarios did, and President Denktas of Kibris — Turkish Cyprus —
flies the Turkish standard and receives visitors under a portrait of Atatürk.
Denktas has made gestures to solve the impasse in negotiations. Since the Turks—18
percent of the population, but less urbanized then the Greeks— formerly occupied
rocky enclaves totaling 34 percent of the island, and now have a contiguous 36
percent, he has offered to give up the UN zone— nearly 6 percent of the territory—and
also give back the Greek sector of the resort city of Magosa (formerly Famagusta). To
Turkey, and officially, Greece, favor a federal solution. So does Britain, fearful of
offending Nicosia because of its sovereign air bases in the South. So does the US,
which uses the Akrotiri base for U-2 flights over the Middle East. But two de facto
independent republics have now co-existed for a decade, and it is hard to believe they
will not become de jure one day.
Sooner or later, the perennial crisis of this passionately divided island will wind
its way back to Capitol Hill. It is perhaps a utopian hope that, before then, every
member of Congress will have read Dr. Oberling’s relatively short book, and found
out what Cyprus is all about.
Russell Warren Howe is a national staff writer for the Washington Times. (The above
was reprinted in ATA-USA, Jan. 1983, p. 33.)
A nice wrap-up on the Cyprus story by Prof. Mahmut Ozan
Michael Cacoyannis's propagandistic stripes: Attila '74
Further: North Cyprus President
Denktas' Last Interview in Office