Monday, July 03, 2023

The historical roots of the division of Cyprus in 1974


[This is not a new post - it is a very old essay I wrote in the 1990s, but have never put it up. It contains a great deal I research I did on the reality of the Macedonian nation, something fiercely challenged by Greek nationalists]


-Michael Karadjis



What were the historical root causes of the division of Cyprus in 1974, that is, not only of the Greek coup and Turkish invasion, but of the fact that 23 years after these events, there seems no solution is on the horizon? What developments through the Ottoman and British colonial periods contributed either to the unity or the division between the island's Greek and Turkish communities?


Greek Cypriot prisoners captured by Turkish invasion army 1974; 1600 Greek Cypriots remain missing (Image source: 

Ethnographic map of Cyprus 1960: a clearly indivisible country (Image source: Alexander-Michael Hadjilyra, under a Creative Commons license, 




In 1974, a short-lived coup by the then military junta in Greece led to a Turkish invasion and long-term occupation, driving hundreds of thousands of people from both communities from their homes, resulting in two ethnically "pure" geographically separated populations. Twenty three years later, endless negotiations never seem able to close the gap between the two sides. In as much as the Greek Cypriot side has long ago completely rejected Enosis (union with Greece) and accepts all UN resolutions; and that Greek Cypriot society in its entirety sees the actions of the Greek junta and its Cypriot collaborators in 1974 as criminal and as foreign intervention; it is the Turkish Cypriot side that is generally seen as the one holding intransigent positions. This study will not look at who is "right" or "wrong" in this context, but will seek to examine why the gap seems unbridgeable. This needs to go beyond conventional wisdom that the leaders on the Turkish Cypriot side are not independent negotiators, because of the massive presence of Turkish troops - the problem is there has been no movement of ordinary Turkish Cypriots against their leadership on the question of negotiations or particularly on the question of the Turkish occupation. Why can't the "independent" republic of Cyprus win ordinary Turkish Cypriots away from "foreign occupation" with a perspective of an independent, bi-zonal, bi-communal federation? Historically, there should be a basis for this, as there was large-scale collaboration between Greek and Turkish peasants in anti-Ottoman uprisings, and then in the labour movement up to the 1940s. However, the development of modem nationalisms in the two communities under later British rule, led by two very different elites, pulled them in opposing directions, and also created a significant economic gap between them. While foreign interference is often blamed for the Cyprus tragedy, these local developments are the context in which local Cypriots could become victims of such foreign plans. Finally, the emphasis on foreign intervention, no matter how true, has also served to cover the very divisive course followed by the independent Makarios regime in the early 1960s, creating a romanticism of Makarios as a fighter for Cypriot independence. In fact, his actions then had a decisive effect on making the divisions permanent.

Since 1974, Cyprus has been divided between an independent republic, populated by Greek Cypriots (80% of the population), and 37% of the island occupied by the Turkish army, where the Turkish Cypriots (18%) live - both entire populations forcibly separated. Endless negotiations never bring the problem any closer to solution. To explain what led to such a seemingly permanent division, three areas will be examined: the historic relationship between the two communities, the intervention of foreign powers, and finally internal socio-economic and political causes.


Historic collaboration between the two communities


Today's division cannot be explained by "historic enmity". Anecdotal evidence of good neighbourly relations is too overwhelming to ignore, even among refugees forced to leave their villages in 1974, who gave the keys to their house to their Turkish/Greek Cypriot neighbours. Most lived in mixed villages: the first population census in 1832 revealed 92 Moslem villages and 172 mixed villages.1


Likewise any notion that bad relations stem from the Ottoman occupation (1571- 1878), which it might be assumed favoured the Turkish minority, can also be rejected. The main group favoured by the Ottomans was the Greek Orthodox Church (the "Ethnarchia"), the Ottoman's tax collectors, a position the Ethnarchia used for its own benefit2. The Turkish peasants were as poor as their Greek counterparts. This produced large-scale co-operation between Greek and Turkish peasants in mass uprisings directed against both the Turkish authorities and the Greek Ethnarchia, in particular in 1765, 1799, 1804 and 1833.3


Despite the rise of Greek and Turkish nationalism among the elite under British rule after 1878, peaceful relations continued between the communities. In elections in 1921 and 1925 the "Enosis" (union with Greece) candidates lost'. In 1930, Greek and Turkish Cypriot deputies voted together against British taxation policies, and the British reaction to this led to the mass uprising of 1931. The Greek Cypriot elite managed to give this essentially economic uprising the flavour of "Enosis"', meaning the equally impoverished Turkish masses took no part; nevertheless, there were no clashes between the communities.6


In the 1930s, the Cypriot Communist Party grew rapidly with an anti-Enosis program, recruiting Turkish Cypriots to its ranks. A bi-communal agrarian movement formed the Agrarian Greek-Turkish Party.' Despite British repression, the Communists re­ formed, on a massive scale, in 1941 with the name AKEL (Reconstructed Party of Working People) and led a huge workers' movement uniting Greek and Turkish Cypriots. By 1939, over 60 trade unions existed, with significant Turkish Cypriot participation.8 By 1948, PEO (Pan-Cypriot Workers Organisation - the trade union federation) had 10,000 members, including 1500 Turkish Cypriots.9 In exchange for Cypriot participation in World War II, Britain allowed municipal elections in 1943.



AKEL won the largest Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot municipalities. Massesof Greek and Turkish Cypriots poured into the streets of the main cities to celebrate, waving Greek and Turkish flags together. The reaction of Greek nationalists "did not stop the Turkish flag flying next to the Greek (on the balcony of the Limassol town hall) for all the years of AKEL's municipal rule..."10 Trying to head off this growth, Britain proposed a gradual withdrawal and the setting up of a partial "self­ government." Led by AKEL, a mass demonstration in favour of self-government in 1947 drew 40,000 people from both communities - the largest ever in Cyprus.11 The scheme collapsed due to opposition from the Greek Cypriot nationalists and the Ethnarchia. But in 1948, when AKEL/PEO led the biggest strike wave in Cypriot history, again involving both communities, for a 44 hour week and more political freedom,12 the same nationalists and Ethnarchs joined forces with the British to put it down.


Clearly, there was a basis for unity of the two communities in a struggle for independence, particularly within the labour movement. This summary shows large scale co-operation between the two communities continually reasserting itself from Ottoman times until 1948, so "historic enmity" never existed.


Foreign intervention in Cyprus


An important cause of today's division is western interference, particularly by Britain and the US. Cyprus is situated strategically, almost in the Middle East with its oil supplies and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The rise of Arab nationalism in the 1950s threatened western control of these oil supplies. The British-French-Israeli attack on Egypt in 1956 was launched from British bases in Cyprus. British troops based in Cyprus were hurried from Cyprus to help pro-British monarchies in Jordan in 1958 and Kuwait in 1961.13 The strength of AKEL, the largest party in the island, alarmed the west. If AKEL played a prominent role in post-British Cyprus it might threaten western interests. As a party capable of uniting the two communities, this could be a danger - as well as a reason to divide them.


But in 1955, the struggle against British rule was launched by the right-wing organisation EOKA, led by General Grivas, a Cypriot-born general in the Greek army, with the backing of the pro-western Greek government and the Cypriot Orthodox Church, led by Archbishop Makarios. EOKA fought for "Enosis" (union of Cyprus with Greece), which left the Turkish minority out of the struggle. The US favoured Enosis, wanting to take advantage of British weakness, and believing the Greek government, which had just crushed its communists (Grivas was a notorious anti­ communist fighter in that civil war), would be able to crush AKEL. EOKA banned AKEL from participating in the struggle, and in 1957-58 led countless attacks on AKEL supporters, leading almost to civil war in May 1958.14 As if to help EOKA, Britain banned AKEL in 1955, even though it opposed the armed struggle.


Britain used the fears of the Turkish minority to divide and rule. Clashes began between the two communities. Right-wing Turkish Cypriots set up the guerrilla group TMT (Turkish Resistance Organisation), led by Rauf Denktash, a Turkish leader in the British colonial administration. The TMT fought for "Taksim", the division of Cyprus into two states and the physical separation of the communities. The TMT was controlled by Greece's NATO "ally" and rival Turkey, which did not want a Greek military presence to its south. It attacked Turkish Cypriot AKEL members or moderates. It forced Turkish Cypriots out of combined trade unions, and following inter-communal clashes in 1958, many Turkish Cypriots fled mixed villages for purely Turkish areas, beginning the TMT's goal of Taksim.


Hence, some of the factors that led to disaster were: British divide and rule tactics, aimed at keeping the colony and protecting western interests; interference from the NATO regimes in Greece and Turkey, from their opposing nationalist standpoints and

their joint fear of communism; and the right-wing nationalist nature of the anti-colonial struggle, which created division between the two communities and between left and right, which facilitated foreign interference. However, while Greece nourished Enosis nationalism over many years, which gave rise to this struggle, the struggle cannot itself be blamed mainly on Greek interference. Enosis had overwhelming Greek Cypriot support, and, apart from people like Grivas, EOKA' s leadership was essentially a local Greek Cypriot phenomenon.


Since no-one could win, Enosis, Taksim and British rule were avoided in favour of independence for Cyprus as a country for both communities. It is the fact that this did not survive that needs investigation.


The familiar "foreign interference" analysis is that in 1960 Makarios, accepted an independent Cyprus for the two communities, leaving Enosis behind. As a new independent state following an anti-colonial struggle, it joined the Non-Aligned Movement and developed relations with the USSR, to balance the threat to independence from NATO states Greece and Turkey. It rejected US pressure for NATO membership. Turkey stirred up chauvinist elements among the Turkish Cypriots to violently separate the two communities and impose Taksim, while Greece, particularly under the junta after 1967, wanting to impose Enosis, also stirred up pro­ Enosis elements among the Greek Cypriots against Makarios and the Turkish Cypriots. Both opposing regimes were backed by the US, which wanted Cyprus in NATO, and opposed Makarios' flirting with the Non-Aligned, the USSR and AKEL. Having violently divided the communities, they overthrew Makarios in 1974 and tried to divide Cyprus between them, with covert US backing."


While generally true, this is only the skeleton of the explanation for 1974, leaving too many questions unanswered. It is easier to talk of foreign interference than to analyse why local Cypriots fell victim to it. If large-scale co-operation between the two communities had been a tradition, how did Greek Cypriots end up behind the divisive slogan Enosis? If Britain "divided and ruled" using the Turkish Cypriots against the Greek struggle, why did they let themselves "be used'? IfEnosis and Taksim were rejected in favour of independence, why couldn't the independent state rally the two communities against all the foreign powers? To the extent that this did happen, it was mainly Greek Cypriots who fought for independence in 1960-74. Why couldn't Makarios rally Turkish Cypriots to the struggle? The Turkish Cypriot voices of moderation were ruthlessly silenced by the Denktash forces, without strong opposition.


This question is central to analysing the failure of post-1974 negotiations, even after the chauvinist forces were defeated on the Greek Cypriot side and Enosis was gone forever. Of course, Denktash is in control, and is controlled by the Turkish regime, which wants to maintain the occupation. Therefore, Greek Cypriot proposals for a bi­ zonal, bi-communal federation, with UN troops, with complete demilitarisation, giving the Turkish zone 27-28 per cent of the territory (ie far higher than their proportion of the population), are always rejected.


But what of the Turkish Cypriots? Given there are 35,000 Turkish troops among 90,000 Turkish Cypriots, and hence not a pleasant way to live; and that there is conflict between the Turkish Cypriots and the equal number of Turkish colonists which Ankara has brought in; and the fact that the economy is controlled by Ankara in a way

that leaves the mass of Turkish Cypriots in dire poverty, on wages one tenth of those of Greek Cypriots; it can be assumed the Turkish Cypriots have reason to want some change. Most Turkish Cypriots vote for the opposition to Denktash, the Republican and Social Liberation Parties, Denktash maintaining power through the votes of the colonists. But there has been no active movement, no demonstrations, and, above all, no opposition to the massive occupation army. In fact, most Turkish Cypriots do not see it as an occupation army, and the opposition parties, while desiring a solution which could mean the withdrawal of Turkish troops, are still in favour of some "right" of Turkey to intervene, if necessary, to "protect" the Turkish Cypriots - something unacceptable to the Greek Cypriots.


Clearly, there are more fundamental problems in the relationship between the two communities. These factors include, firstly, the very different development of a bourgeois middle class among the two communities, hence pulling the communities in opposite directions; secondly, the big gap between the socio-economic status of the two communities; thirdly, the failure of AKEL and the labour movement to offer an alternative; and finally, despite the myths, in fact the Makarios regime did not give up the goal of Enosis until after 1967, and in the meantime this independent government, not the foreign Greek government, led a series of disastrous attacks on the Turkish minority in 1963-67 with the aim of imposing Enosis.


The Greek Cypriot commercial middle class


The Greek Cypriot commercial class formed under Ottoman rule. Far from obstructing its growth, the "Ottomans kept for themselves military and administrative careers" leaving commerce to the Greek Cypriots now that the Venetians, who had "monopolised commerce for themselves" had been expelled.16 Its rise continued under British rule, particularly with strong commercial development in the Middle east in the 1920s and 1930s."


This class was tied to its Greek counterparts, with whom it had a common development under Ottoman rule (trade, language, cultural ties). As early as 1821, the Greek revolution had echoes in Cyprus, with call for union with "the motherland". This intensified after the British set up separate education systems for the two communities, controlled by Athens and Ankara. The Greek Cypriot school system was based on the Greek, and Greek teachers were imported, making the schools - largely a middle class arena - centres for the spread of Greek nationalism and "Enosis".18


For the Greek Cypriot middle class, the demand for Enosis seemed entirely natural, given that Greeks were 80 per cent of the population and given its dependence on the much stronger Greek bourgeoisie which had its own state. Hence the process of national formation, led by an educated commercial elite, was in conflict with the idea of an independent state governed by both communities. The examples given earlier of large scale Greek-Turkish collaboration were, firstly, of the peasant masses during the Ottoman empire, when there were no modern nations, and the labour movement in the 1930s and 1940s, due to common economic interests as workers (and likewise the agrarian movement).


The opposite was the case with the bourgeoisie, which expanded by closing ranks to outsiders. For example, according to AKEL leader Ziatides: "During the last sixty

years the economy of the island (commerce, services, industry) has passed almost entirely into the hands of the Greek majority...The Greek Cypriot bourgeois class...rejected any economic integration of the two communities. Neither mixed commercial enterprises, nor mixed services, nor Turkish shares in Cypriot banks, nor even Turkish employees."19 The same was the case with their patrons, the Orthodox church, which "does not rent farms or shops to Turks."20


Through school and church, among other means, the Greek Cypriot bourgeoisie eventually made "Enosis" the leading demand of the anti-colonial movement among the Greek Cypriots. Despite their long history of co-operation with the Turkish Cypriots, Enosis came to be seen as a "natural" demand: if their leaders called for "Enosis", it was part of the struggle against British oppression. This struggle was more important than the slogan, as indicated by the fact that, at other times, the pendulum swung back to "independence", as in the huge bi-communal demonstrations and strikes for "self­ government" in 1947-48. However, if unresolved, this contradiction would inevitably undermine any possibility of united struggle with the Turkish Cypriots.


The Turkish Cypriot colonial bureaucracy


The Turkish Cypriots, by contrast, continued the more conservative traditions of their milliet under Ottoman rule. That is, while commerce was in Greek Cypriot hands, the Turkish upper class gained its wealth through military-bureaucratic positions or landholding.21 This continued under British administration. Britain now made the appointments of Turkish bureaucrats to its administration.22 Their inability to compete with the Greek Cypriots in business made them hold on tightly to the security of these administrative positions.


This essentially meant loyalty to the powers that be - the "Cypriot Moslem upper class failed to establish its own strength and identity, I believe while aligning itself with certain powers while searching for acquired power by being a tool for colonial interests",23 in the words of Turkish Cypriot academic Niyazi Kizilyurek. This explains why, while the Greek Cypriot bourgeoisie had long ago launched a movement for Enosis, the Turkish Cypriot leaders never waged any such campaign for return to the Ottomans. Certainly, the lack of a Turkish national state until 1922 (unlike the Greek state) with which to identify was a further weakness; yet even after 1922 there was no similar movement.24


For example, when Britain formally annexed Cyprus in 1914, the Turkish Cypriot leaders wrote to the Foreign Office and declared: "We loyally and honestly ask that an assurance be given to the Muslims of Cyprus that they will forever remain united with the British empire...""


When Turkish nationalist organisations did begin to develop in the 1940s, this identity was largely built as a reaction to rising Greek nationalism, and still did not struggle against British rule for union with Turkey. As long as Britain was there, the Turkish Cypriot upper class would have bureaucratic career paths; if the island became part of Greece, there would be no room for the Turkish Cypriot elite either in business or administration. Hence the idea of Taksim, and hence union of a part of Cyprus with Turkey, was a last resort if the nightmare occurred and Britain left.

The first large Turkish Cypriot organisation, KATAK (Association of Turkish Minorities on Island of Cyprus) was set up in 1943 by Sir Munur Bey, an Executive Council member supported by the British Colonial Office.26 In 1948, Britain set up a Special Turkish Committee, consisting of religious leaders, senior judges and Denktash. These moves were in response to the tremendous growth of the anti­ colonial movement in the 1940s. In 1955, Britain organised the London Conference and brought Turkey, until then little involved, into the picture, as an ally against the Enosis movement. For the Turkish Cypriot bureaucratic upper class, the reality of the Enosis movement, meant a new transfer of loyalty from Britain to Turkey, just as before from the Ottomans to Britain.


The slogan Taksim meant that in order to survive as an administrative caste, they needed their own mini-state to be carved out of Cyprus if the British were to leave. Such a mini-state also meant the ability of a Turkish Cypriot business class to grow without competition from its more powerful Greek Cypriot rival. This is the meaning of the rules enforced by the Denktash forces during the first stage of Taksim, the creation of Turkish Cypriot "cantons" in 1964-74, which banned any trade or business deals with Greek Cypriots.27


Hence while British "divide and rule" and Turkish intervention are facts, there was a real social base, which, for local reasons, wanted to "be used" as its interests were threatened by the exclusiveness of the powerful Greek Cypriot bourgeoisie and their Enosis plans, itself largely a local development.


Huge socio-economic gap between the communities


However, if the Turkish Cypriot upper classes benefited from British rule, the Turkish Cypriot masses by all accounts remained in dire poverty. Their co-operation in struggles with Greek Cypriots from the 1920s to the 1940s indicate many wanted to throw off colonial rule. The Enosis movement alienated them, but would Enosis be any worse than their current situation? The fact is, the different development of the Greek and Turkish upper classes under British rule was widening the socio-economic gap between the two communities. The development of capitalism in Greek Cypriot hands was at least creating some social advances among that community at large; most remained extremely poor, but more benefited from some urban and economic development, got better jobs, more went to school etc. By contrast, the parasitic nature of the Turkish Cypriot upper class had no such developmental effects on that community. The following diagram, with data from the Cypriot Department of Statistics and Research in 1964,28 indicates huge inequality:




Turk Cyp.


Others (ie



Turk only

Taxes 1958





94.3/ 5.7

Agricultural production





87.4/ 12.6







Industrial production/ mines 1962





93.8/ 6.2

Imports '63





96.1/ 3.9

Exports '63





99.5/ 0.5


The data regarding imports and exports indicates the total domination of the Greek Cypriot commercial classes over the Turkish. In particular, the 0.3 per cent Turkish participation in exports stands out against the Armenian participation - 6.4 per cent for 1 per cent of the population! However, imports also indicate far greater buying power of Greek Cypriots in general. The tiny percentage of taxes paid by Turkish compared to Greek Cypriots indicates a far smaller participation in organised labour and far lower wages.29 Greek Cypriots not only dominate in industry, but even in agriculture: the 18 per cent minority was only responsible for 6.1 per cent of production. This indicates a far higher percentage of Turkish Cypriots unemployed, semi-employed or in jobs such as cleaners, maids, unaccounted farm hands etc.30


This gulf between the communities as a whole is the context in which must be placed discussion about Turkish Cypriot reactions to Enosis, to the independent constitution of 1960 (which gave certain "privileges" to the Turkish minority above their proportion of the population), to Makarios' actions in attacking the constitution in 1963 in the interests of "true independence" etc. It is pure formalism to discuss such issues without the social context. Claims that Enosis was "natural" as Greeks were the majority, and hence Turks could have all the rights of a minority as in other countries, fell on deaf ears in this context. The Turkish peasant might have more in common withhis/her Greek neighbour than with various Turkish "Sirs" in the colonial administration; however, Enosis meant complete domination by the Greek moneyed classes, who essentially only employed Turks in the lowest paid jobs, if at all.


AKEL: the bi-communal alternative?


But the Turkish Cypriot masses may not have ended up pawns of their chauvinist rulers if there had been a large and dynamic alternative to the Enosis movement in the independence struggle. That is what AKEL could have been; its electoral victories in the I940s indicate that up to half the population supported it. Its leadership of the mass movement supporting "self-government" in 1947-48 showed its potential.


However, in 1948, AKEL leaders travelled to Greece and met Zachariades, Greek Communist Party leader, as the Greek civil war neared its end with the defeat of the Communists. Zachariades condemned the politics of supporting "self-government" as a British plot, telling AKEL it must fight for "Enosis and only Enosis now!", deluded that he would win the war and hence Cyprus could unite with a Communist Greece. Taking this disastrous advice, the leaders returned to Cyprus, and the party congress in 1949 fixed their previous "mistake" in a way common for Communist parties aligned to the zig-zags of Soviet foreign policy, with a 180 degree tum.31


In AKEL's new Enosis policy, the Turkish Cypriots would have "minority rights." This hardly satisfied disoriented Turkish Cypriots, opening their ranks further to the Turkish Cypriot Taksim chauvinists. But when the end of the mass movement for self­ government paved the way for the beginning of the movement for Enosis in the 1950s led by the Ethnarchia and right-wing nationalists, AKEL attacked the movement as nothing but "provocations",32 even though it agreed with Enosis. Naturally, AKEL was afraid of a movement led by Grivas, who had just finished liquidating Communists in Greece. But by standing aside from the mass anti-colonial movement which erupted in December 1954, AKEL handed the movement over to these forces, losing considerable influence. With the same political line (Enosis) perhaps AKEL had little to offer, but probably the movement would have had a less chauvinist character under AKEL's leadership, with more emphasis on minority rights. This politics of confusion opened AKEL to the brutal attacks by both EOKA and TMT in 1957-58. For both groups, its (still) bi-communal nature was an affront, but now EOKA could claim the Communists were British agents for opposing their struggle, while its support for Enosis made it difficult to hold on to its Turkish Cypriot members under TMT attack.


In particular, the massive (seemingly combined) EOKA and TMT attacks on AKEL in early 1958 had the desired results. With the attempted murder by the TMT of Ahmed Santi, head of the Turkish Cypriot office of the AKEL-dominated trade union federation PEO (Pan-Cypriot Workers' Organisation), followed by the TMT murder of Fazil Ontour, editor of PEO's Turkish Cypriot newspaper (and other murders), PEO made the decision to close down its Turkish office and end work among Turkish Cypriot workers.33 The far greater number of attacks and murders of AKEL members by EOKA," however, had the opposite result, with a new change in line in 1957 pledging full support to EOKA and in particular to Makarios.35


This background - the wide economic gulf separating the two communities, the opposite development of the two ruling elites, and the failure of AKEL and the labour movement to follow a consistent policy capable of uniting the communities, meant the chances of an independent state "for both communities" surviving after 1960 were slim. The final nail in the coffin of independence was driven by the "independent" Makarios regime itself.


Makarios "independently" fights for... Enosis


When Britain left in 1960 it imposed a complicated constitution containing 199 articles and hundreds of paragraphs. Colonial strings included the right of the three "guarantor" powers - Britain, Greece and Turkey - to intervene in case of any threat to the constitution, the stationing of Greek and Turkish troops on the island, and the 2.5 per cent of the island set aside for British bases. The Turkish minority were guaranteed a proportion of all positions in the government and military, 011 average around 30 per cent, more than their 18 per cent of the population. Britain made sure the Turkish representatives had veto power over foreign policy, defence and internal security decisions, hence continuing to have influence over Cypriot foreign policy, since at the time it had influence over the Turkish leaders.

Most Cypriots welcomed independence, but some EOKA leaders around Grivas regarded it as "betrayal" of Enosis, while many in the TMT still wanted Taksim. AKEL supported independence but opposed the colonial restrictions on it. The domination by the three NATO powers drove Makarios to the Non-Aligned and the USSR as a balance; against the threat from the "Enosis now" forces, he developed a relationship with AKEL. These facts are often believed to indicate that Makarios was a "progressive" third world leader trying to defend independence.


Makarios was extremely anti-communist, anti-Turkish, pro-Enosis, pro-monarchist (ie in Greece), and essentially, not anti-NATO. No attempt was ever made to rally Greek and Turkish Cypriots against the colonial restrictions on the constitution. Rather, Makarios concentrated his energies on the aspects of the constitution which gave special "privileges" to the Turkish minority. This is often seen as part of his struggle for real independence, since the veto power of the Turkish Cypriot vice-president reflected "foreign" interests. In reality, this veto did not stop Cyprus becoming a founding member of the Non-Aligned, despite active opposition from NATO Turkey and "its" Cypriot vice-president. Makarios' obsession with eventual Enosis prevented him even trying to win support among Turkish Cypriots against their pro-Turkey, pro­ British leaders. As for the 70/30 ratio of representatives, if not seen in the context of the wide economic gulf between the communities and the explosive rivalry between the ruling elites, the formal "correctness" of reducing the Turkish proportion to their percentage of the population is irrelevant and explosive.


In any case, the issue on which Makarios chose to blow up the constitution was an issue closest to the Turkish masses, the separate Greek and Turkish municipal councils.36 When Makarios refused to implement this aspect of his constitution, the Turkish deputies refused taxation. To break this "deadlock", in December 1963 he put forward 13 changes to the constitution, including abolishing separate councils, removal of veto powers, and the reduction in the Turkish share of government and military positions to their proportion of the population.


The Turkish Cypriot MPs quit the government, and violent clashes erupted between the two communities in 1963-64. Militias of both sides attacked opposing civilian populations. This confrontation drove about 25,000 Turkish Cypriots from their homes into "cantons" controlled by Denktash and the TMT, either fleeing Greek Cypriot attack, or under force by the TMT. The physical separation of the two communities and the beginnings of a Turkish Cypriot state were born. In the 5% of Cyprus controlled by Denktash's militia, a ruthless dictatorship ruled." This state within a state was completely dependent on Turkey, which provided 10 million pounds annually.38


But if this was a victory for Taksim, the other side of it was that Makarios now controlled 95 per cent of Cyprus, where the Turkish Cypriots remaining - still the majority - lived under a completely Greek Cypriot government. Ironically, the fact that the Turkish Cypriot deputies quit, allowed Makarios to push through his changes.

Makarios himself stated "I prefer the present situation to a bad solution...we already have a purely Greek government in the island. The Turks don't take part in the government. Therefore, I believe, there is no rush..."39 Throughout 1964, Greek Cypriot militias besieged the Turkish cantons. This was no "hearts and minds" campaign to win the Turkish Cypriots to independence, but a violent campaign to force their surrender. In August 1964, Turkey attacked using mass bombing and

napalm against civilian targets. Hundreds on both sides were killed or disappeared between 1963 and 1967; however, the majority of the victims were Turkish Cypriots, as was admitted by AKEL, despite its total support to Makarios' offensive: "...all indications are that the majority (of victims) belong to the Turkish Cypriot side."40


Hence this was not a tactical blunder by Makarios. Rather, Makarios had only accepted independence as a temporary situation. For Makarios, the restrictions on independence were restrictions on the Greek Cypriot majority's "right" to independently choose Enosis. In November 1964, for example, Makarios declared "The union of Cyprus with Greece must be a union of the whole island, without any part excepted."41 This was clear from Makarios' support for the secret "Akritas Plan", Akritas being the pseudonym of his ultra-nationalist Foreign Minister, Georgkatsis, head of a secret military organisation. This plan envisaged the 13 points as a first step, the abolition of the Treaty of Guarantee as a second, and then the holding of a referendum on Enosis, which would be won by the Greek Cypriots due to numbers.Even "violent means" would be used achieve these ends.42


While Makarios was endorsing the Akritas plan, Turkish Cypriot leaders were doing their own plotting - Denktash and Kutchuk signed a secret document planning self­ segregation as a step towards partition.43 But this agenda was no secret, and explains the obstructive tactics used by the Turkish Cypriot deputies on many occasions in 1960-63. Makarios played into their hands not out of clumsiness, but because he had his own plan, and expected to win.


Far from the Greek government trying to impose Enosis, at this stage the government of Karamanlis urged Makarios to stick to the constitution,44 as Greece wanted no problems with its NATO ally Turkey. But the events of 1963-64 brought the US, Greece and Turkey in to find a "solution." In 1964 the US put forward the Acheson Plan, following negotiations with Greece and Turkey - but not Cyprus. The plan included Enosis of Cyprus with Greece, in exchange for a huge NATO base under Turkish control, about 20 per cent of the island.45 Cyprus would be brought into NATO, Soviet influence curbed, and Greece could deal with AKEL. Turkey and Greece accepted the plan in principle, but it was rejected by Makarios.


Makarios' rejection had nothing to do with protecting Cypriot independence from Enosis, or with staying out of NATO. On the contrary, he was in favour of Enosis (and hence Cyprus, as part of Greece, would be in NATO), but completely rejected giving any part of Cyprus to Turkey. As he declared: "It is impossible to accept any plan in which a significant part of Cyprus will come under Turkish control, even if the rest of the island is finally united with Greece."46 Far from the politics of independence, this was only anti-Turkish politics, which, as is evident from his actions, was directed as much against the Turkish Cypriots as against Ankara. However, the Greek rulers understood there would be no Enosis unless Turkey got a share, and they were happy to get 80 per cent of Cyprus. Indeed, there is evidence that Makarios' government launched the attacks on Turkish Cypriot cantons Mansouras/Kokkinon in August 1964 (leading to Turkey's bombing attack) precisely to create a crisis and torpedo the US­ Greek-Turkish talks. Greek leader George Papandreau held this view, and reproached Makarios for this action.47


This is the origins of Makarios' famous opposition to NATO, because US-NATO was determined to include a Turkish role with Enosis. Makarios' rejection of these plans led the US to consider him a danger of becoming the "Castro of the Mediterranean", an unlikely prospect. He turned further to the USSR, Egypt and the Non-Aligned. Yet as late as 1967, Makarios still didn't reject Enosis. As he declared in early 1967 in response to Greek-Turkish talks on Enosis in exchange for a Turkish military base:


"... I believe there exists complete agreement (ie between Cyprus and Greece) as to our aim, that is, the aim is Enosis...(but Turkey wants) in exchange, the surrender of Cypriot territory to Turkey, from the Cypriot point of view, is completely unacceptable."" He went on to declare that the Turkish Cypriots, in their "concentration camps" (Denktash's cantons) would not be able to hold out and "in 3,5,10 months the Turks will beg surrender", hence there being no rush to give too much to Turkey.49


However, from 1965, and particularly after the junta took control in Greece in 1967, there came a gradual switch in roles between Greece and Cyprus. Till now, Cyprus had been the hard-line pro-Enosis, anti-Turkish party, with Greece either supporting the constitution (1960-63) or supporting sharing Cyprus with Turkey (1964-67). But now Makarios could see there would be no Enosis without giving some land to Turkey, and so declared in January 1968 that Enosis was "no longer viable. Cypriots had better understand that and continue to struggle for the real solution, which is the independence of Cyprus."50 This change was also brought about by the actions of the Greek junta, which declared "Greece and Turkey are bound by the need to confront jointly the common enemy - communism - and to consider all outstanding differences as secondary to this primary interest.1151 This was a veiled reference to AKEL, which polled 43% in the 1968 elections. At a meeting between Greek and Turkish leaders on September 9, it was agreed that Cyprus must be integrated into the western defence system, if necessary through partition between the "mother countries.11 Further, the nature of the Greek junta managed to turn most Greek Cypriots away from any desire to unite with Greece.


This change meant that, to balance the joint Greek-Turkish threat from the outside, the Cypriot government opened full-scale talks with the Turkish Cypriots in June 1968 under UN auspices. All restrictions on the movement of Turkish Cypriots in the cantons were lifted. The Greek junta, on the other hand, began accusing Makarios of being an "enemy of Hellenism" and encouraged extreme pro-Enosis forces, led by Grivas, to set up EOKA-B, with the aim of overthrowing Makarios. These forces were motivated by Enosis, even though their backers, the junta, were actually playing at double Enosis. Their actions helped the junta - by attacking Turkish Cypriots they helped drive the communities apart, hence preparing the ground for double Enosis.


Hence only after 1968, was it indeed a Makarios fighting for independent Cyprus, including for the Turkish minority, against Greek, Turkish and US-NATO attempts to destroy it, and this is origins of the romanticism of Makarios. However, by now it was far too late. Due to the events of 1963-67, the Denktash forces had been consolidated as the Turkish Cypriot leaders, and hence the negotiating partner, and they were hardly independent of Turkey. Denktash continued to insist on two federated states within Cyprus, even though much of the population was still not separated and so would require ethnic cleansing. Makarios, for his part, ruled out any return to the pre-1963 provisions of the constitution, and even among the Turkish Cypriots still living in mixed villages outside Denktash's control, was unable to win support due to this and to continued mistrust from 1963-4 and the failure to improve their economic conditions.


So when Turkish Cypriots again came under attack in 1974, even though it was from the anti-Makarios forces and indeed from foreign (Greek junta) intervention, this was the final straw. Certainly, Turkey invaded for its own reasons and only used "protection of the Turkish Cypriots" as an excuse; nevertheless, for the Turkish Cypriots it was better than EOKA-B, and they fled towards the protection of the advancing Turkish army. This is why they still do not see it as an occupation, even though for the 200,000 Greek Cypriots forced from their homes it obviously is.


Therefore, the reasons for the failure of today's negotiations cannot only be blamed on the Turkish government's control of the "Turkish Cypriot" regime of Denktash and their refusal to accept apparently very reasonable plans, which are accepted by the UN and most governments in the world. Rather, what is "on paper" is no more inspiring than what was on paper in 1960, to move the Turkish Cypriot masses beyond their fear and mistrust. Virtually any plan, no matter how "unjust" the Greek Cypriots might consider it, would be better than the current total separation, if it at least allowed the free interaction of people and ideas, because only this can break the mistrust and fear of previous decades, allowing a future generation to create a just solution.




In conclusion, the reasons for the seemingly permanent division can neither be blamed on any non-existent historic enmity, nor entirely on foreign intervention. Foreign intervention played a major role in the events leading up to 1974, but this is an almost pointless statement if we don't understand the internal dynamics of Cyprus that allowed Cypriots to fall into "foreign" plans. The different and opposite development of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot ruling classes historically pulled their communities in opposite directions, creating the potential for two different nations within the one island - essentially the situation now. It also created a huge economic gap between the two communities, meaning emphasis on united action and equal rights was more important in keeping the Turkish minority away from Turkey's (or Britain's) exploitation than anything the Greek Cypriots might have considered their "right", ie Enosis, changing the constitution etc. AKEL became the major party on the island, the leadership of the labour movement and contained large numbers from both communities in its ranks. An independence movement under its leadership would have been the natural alternative to the divisive plans of the nationalist leaders of the two communities. AKEL squandered this opportunity due to its political zig-zags and ultimate capitulation the Enosis. Hence by 1960, a bi-communal independent state was already on shaky ground, and only needed a spark to blow it up. In fact, it was not blown up by foreign intervention, but by the determination of the Greek Cypriot rulers, led by Makarios, to liquidate Turkish Cypriot opposition to Enosis, despite the Greek government's relative caution at the time. The campaign against the Turkish Cypriots in 1963-67 destroyed any remaining trust, so that when the Greek and Cypriot governments did finally "swap roles" after 1967, it was far too late.



Ali, Aydin Mehmet (Editor) Turkish Cypriot Identity in Literature, discussions at the First Turkish Cypriot Panel of Young Intellectuals, Fatal Productions, London, 1990

Attalides, M Cyprus: Nationalism and International Politics, Q Press, Edinborough, 1979

Attalides, M (Ed) Cyprus Reviewed, Nicosia, 1977

Georgopoulos, Alexandros Arnoume (I Refuse), periodical, Athens, February 1994 Haravghi, AKEL newspaper, Nicosia 5/7/59, 22/12/63, 24/12/63, 29/12/63 Intercontinental Press, periodical, New York, 1983

Kiziliourek, Niyazi  Whole Cyprus, Kasoulidis, Nicosia, 1990

Kranidiotis, Nikos Unfortified State - Cyprus 1960-74, Volume A, Themelio, Athens Kranidiotis, Yiannos The Cyprus Problem 1960-74, Themelio, Athens, 1984 Mastroyiannopoulos, Petros Cyprus: socialist perspective the only way out of the

unsolved national and social problem, Xekinima, Nicosia, 1981 Panayiotou, Andreas (Editor), Traino stin Poli, periodical, Limassol, spring 1993 Pantelis, Stavros  New Histoty of Cyprus, Floros, Athens, 1985

Pantelis, Stavros The Making of Modern Cyprus, Interworld, London, 1990 Psiroukis, Nikos The Cyprus Question, Ergasia, Athens, 1975

Terlexis, Pantazis Diplomacy and Politics of the Cypriot Problem, Rappa, Athens, 1971

Milios, Yiannis (Ed),  Theses, periodical, Exantas, Athens, January-March 1989



1 Ali, Aydin Melunet (Ed)), Turkish Cypriot Identity in Literature, discussions at the First Turkish Cypriot Panel ofY01111g Intellectuals, Fatal Publications, London, 1990


2 Pantelis, Stavros New History of Cyprus, Floros, Athens, 1985, pp48-49. Pantelis here reveals that from 1660 the Orthodox Archbishop was responsible for collecting the taxes both of the Greek and Turkish residents, even though he was head only of the Greek majority (ie the Christian milliet).


3 ibid, pp45-48


4 Panayiotou, A (Editor) Traino stin Poli, periodical, Limassol, Cyprus, Spring 1993, p34


5 Georgopoulos, A (Editor) Arnoume (I Refuse). periodical, Athens, Februa1y 1994, article by Panayiotou, A National Colonialism in a Cultural Bridge, p37


6 Mastroyiannopoulos, P Cyprus: socialist perspective the onlv way out of the unsolved national and social problem, Xekinima, Nicosia, 1981, pp!0-11



7 Panayiotou, op. cit., p34


8 Mastroyiannopoulos, op cit, p. 100


9 ibid, p. 103, 110


JO ibid, p125-126


11 Georgopoulos, op cit, p38

12  Mastroyiannopoulos, op cit p1O2

13  Intercontinental Press, periodical, New York, December 1983. Later, during the 198Os, British, French and Italian troops in Lebanon were supplied from the British bases in Cyprus, while US marines there were being supplied from the civilian airport in Larnaka.



14 Pantelis, Stavros The Making of Modem Cyprus, Interworld, England 1990, pl57, also Traino stin Poli, p38-4l

15  This is a summary of a very widely-held analysis. As an example, in the Cypriot periodical "Traino stin Poli" in an article by K. Katsis headed "Big Lying Words" with a sub-beading "How the Greek nationalists always dreamed of alliance with their Turkish nationalist brothers through Double Enosis", we read "When after 1958 the Cypriots accepted the Zurich agreements and later loved independence the "Mother countries" did whatever they could to dissolve this bold bridge of dream and reality. The Americans feared that independence would take Cyprus down dangerous third world paths, while the "mother countries" as their obedient organs began to worry about the troubles of their

11children" on the island... 11

16  Attalides, M  Cyprus: Nationalism and International Politics, Q Press, Edinborough, 1979

17 Kranidiotis, Yiannos  The Cyprus Problem 1960-74, Themelio, Athens, 1984     p27

18   ibid, p27

19   Speech by AKEL leader Ziartides to 13th Congress of AKEL, April 1974 (document)

20  Haravghi, 5/7/59

21   Ali, op cit,  p39, 69

22  ibid  p22-24

23 ibid p23

24 ibid, p23-29

25 Mastroyiannopoulos, op cit, p125


26 Ali, op cit p28

27 ibid, p7O. Further, this is the meaning of statements by Turkish Cypriot leader Kutchuk in 1959 at a joint press conference with Makarios, when asked if Turkish Cypriots were "boycotting" Greek Cypriot businesses: "What the Turkish community is doing is mutual support to elevate its economy. The Armenians, using such methods, created a very good eco11omic situation. The Church (ie Greek) does not rent fam15 and shops to Turks. Such procedure is natural." (from Haravghi, 5/7/59).

Incidentally, Makarios did not disagree with Kutcbuk's statement about the Church.

28 Attalides, M (Ed) Cyprus Reviewed, Nicosia, 1977, p61

29 The large number of "others" here is due to this being a I958 statistic, hence taxes paid by the large number of massively better paid British soldiers, bureaucrats and other colonials.


30 A conclusion backed by strong anecdotal evidence, particularly from Greek Cypriots who discuss the excellent friendly relations they had with their Turkish Cypriot house-cleaners etc.

31 Panayiotou, op cit, p35

32 Mastroyiannopoulos, op cit, p33-34


33 ibid, pl03-104


34 The extent of these attacks leave open to question whether EOKA can be considered any kind of national liberation front. In total, from 1955 to 1959, EOKA killed 278 Greek Cypriots, nearly all civilians, ie AKEL supporters, compared to 86 Turkish Cypriots (who, apart from police or victims of EOKA's racism, also included AKEL people) and 142 British (mostly troops, but also civilians).

Possibly the only "national liberation movement" in the world which concentrated nearly all its energy on murdering its opponents rather than fighting the colonial authorities.


35 Mastroyiannopoulos,  op cit, p44


36 Makarios had insisted these separate councils go in the constitution in 1958, against Greek government advice, and they already existed in practice.


37 Kiziliourek, N  Whole Cyprus, Kasoulidis, Nicosia, 1990, p24


38 Pantelis (1990), op cit, p218


39 Kranidiotis, N  Unfortified State - Cyprus 1960-74, Volume A, Themelio, Athens, p551


40 Haravghi, AKEL newspaper, 29/12/63


41 Theses, periodical, Athens, January-March 1989, pl46,


42 Terlexis, P  Diplomacy and Politics of the Cypriot Problem, Rappa, Athens, 1971, p407


43 Pantelis (1990), op cit, p223


44 Kranidiotis, Y op cit, p54


45 ibid, pl34-137


46 ibid, pl39-140


41 Kranidiotis, N, op cit, p323


48 Kranidiotis, Y, op cit, pl58-160


49 ibid, pl64--65


50 ibid, p179


51 Pantelis (l990), op cit, p220