When the United Kingdom allowed Cyprus to become an independent nation in 1959 Archbishop Makarios III became the first president of the newly independent people. He served three terms between 1959 and 1977, surviving four assassination attempts and in 1974 coming through the coup intact . He had become archbishop in 1950 and was seen as an obvious leader of Greek Cypriots in their desire for union with Greece. The British sent him into exile in 1956, claiming that he was encouraging terrorism by the British in 1956 on charges of encouraging terrorism.
By 1958 he was pressing for a split with Britain rather than union with Greece and when independence finally came he was overwhelmingly elected as president. He thereafter is described on the web page Archbishop Makarios, as pursuing a neutralist policy and seeking a peaceful solution for the troubled Greek and Turkish communities. It is worth noting that the article on Makarios comes with a web address that begins ‘A history of Greece’ His techniques and policies were not always appreciated however by the military junta then in charge in Athens.
He was urged by them to promote ever greater Hellenic influence in the country’s affairs. Within Cyprus itself the Orthodox church wanted him to resign if he failed to bring this about. General George Grivas, leader of the Enosis movement tried to overthrown the archbishop. At one point in July 1974 he was declared dead, but soon afterwards he could be heard on the radio entreating the people to resist those taking part in the coup.
Turkey responded by sending troops to the island – an “invasion” according to the Greeks, while Turks at the time described the venture as a “peacekeeping operation” Turkey took charge of about one third of the island, the Athenian junta fell and Makarios was president once more. The writer of the History of Greece web page ‘Archbishop Makarios, said of him:- ‘Regardless of what people thought of him, Makarios’ leadership created an identity for Cypriots that went beyond being Greek or Turkish.
’ which is surely the important point. Despite this he was distrusted by America, because he supposedly was sympathetic to Moscow according to an article by Ioannis Ioannou from May 2004, American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, even giving him the tag of ‘the Castro of the Mediterranean’ according to a 2004 article by Christos Katsetos, ‘Castro of the Mediterranean ’. Georges Grivas Georges Grivas was a Cypriot born Greek army colonel. He was also known as Digenis, a name he adopted within EOKA.
During the occupation of Greece, by the Bulgarians, Germans and Italians in World War II, Grivas created Organization X. which he described as a resistance organization, but its main aim seems to have been to fight Communism. Grivas tried to collaborate with the Nazis against Communist groups such as EAM ( The National Liberation Front) and ELAS, ( The Greek People’s Liberation Army) but the Nazis would not provide arms and he obtained these from the British. The group was neither large , nor influential until after the Greek Civil War, between Communists and Royalists in 1944.
In 1950 he returned to the island of his birth as leader of EOKA ( The National Organization of Cypriot Fighters. ), a group determined to force Britain to allow Cyprus to be united with Greece. When the island did become self governing in 1960 part of the agreement arrived at was that George Grivas would leave the island according to his web page biography However by 1963 he had succeeded in returning after putting considerable pressure on both Cypriot president Makarios and the Greek government, even allowing him to take up the post of Supreme Military Commander on the island.
As such in August 1964 he attacked Turkish forces, the TMT. This attack led to a collapse in the negotiations going on between Americans, Greeks and Turks who had been trying to put together a plan put forward by Dean Acheson, former American Secretary of State under President Truman in the1950’s. The plan had involved the establishment of a Turkish military base in the north of the island, a plan that, though rejected at the time, came into force 10 years later in 1974.
Cyprus would contain both Turkish and British military bases. Makarios noted that there would more than 1000 UN Forces, the British Bases the 40000 plus Turkish Troops as well as the National Guard and finally ELDYK, i. e. Greek forces, which seems a huge total for a relatively small island, however strategically important.