Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Cyprus – A recent history.

In 1947 the island of Rhodes became part of Greece and this heightened the Greek Cypriot fervour for enosis. The British offered a constitution but this was rejected. In 1950 the Bishop of Kitium, Makarios, became Archbishop and Ethnarch. Under his popular leadership, Makarios mobilised the Greek Cypriots and also developed a large following in Greece. The Greek government took up the cause of enosis, but with Colonel Nasser in control of Egypt, Britain was determined to hold on to Cyprus as a base of operations to protect the Suez Canal. In 1955 the British Government invited Greece and Turkey to discussions on the future of Cyprus. Greece accepted, thus tacitly recognising the right of Turkey to be consulted on the Cyprus question. The conference failed and in February 1957 negotiations were transferred to the United Nations. The result of this was Resolution 1013 which announced the principle of the establishment of an independent Cypriot state.

However, an independent Cypriot state was not what the Greek Cypriots wanted and it is believed that Archbishop Makarios encouraged the emergence of the guerrilla force EOKA. (An acyronym in Greek meaning the Freedom Organisation of Cypriot Fighters.) EOKA, as has been mentioned, replicated the tactics of the I.R.A. in Ireland during the period 1919 – 1921; attacking the British security forces, the British administration, and in particular Greek and Turkish Cypriots working for that administration. During the period of the emergency 1956 – 1959 , EOKA, led by a Cypriot who had served with the Greek Army, Colonel Grivas, was responsible for more than 500 deaths. It is estimated that 140 of them were British, 84, Turkish Cypriots, and more than 200 Greek Cypriots. The British forces under Field Marshal Sir John Harding were responsible for more than 160 deaths.

The Greek Government, under pressure from the United States, finally agreed to the creation of an independent Cypriot state and this led to the Treaty of Zurich in 1960, between Britain, Greece and Turkey. This treaty envisaged Cyprus as a unitary state with a House of Representatives, two Communal Chambers, a Greek Cypriot President, and a Turkish Cypriot Vice-President. The Turkish Cypriots were given a veto on matters of security and external policy, and Britain was given sovereign military and air bases. A treat of alliance was to bind the new state to Britain, Greece and Turkey.

Makarios had only agreed to the establishment of an independent Cyprus under considerable pressure, and following the establishment of the Republic on 16 August 1960, he began to work to unify the administration. A policy in which he was firmly opposed by the Vice President, Fazil Kúchúk, who worked for the segregation of the two communities. Matters came to a head in December 1963 proposals by Makarios for constitutional amendments were rejected by the Turkish Government. The proposals would have given the Greek Cypriots greater control of the Island’s Government and were considered by the Turks as a ‘stepping-stone’ to enosis. The crisis led to outbreaks of intercommunal violence, the majority of incidents involving attacks on Turkish Cypriots. Turkey concentrated military forces on its coastline opposite the island and this led in February 1964 to the despatch of a United Nations peace-keeping force (UNFICYP).

Leave a Reply