The Cypriot crisis is usually considered to date from 1974, but this article looks at the events that led up to it in the previous decade. In 1967 Turkey seemed to be putting pressure on the Greek inhabitants and so Georgios Grivas, leader of the Greek Cypriot forces, sent members of the National Guard into the Turkish areas. These Guards surrounded two villages, Ayios Theodhoros and Kophinou, which are found about twenty-five kilometers to the southwest of Larnaca.
Then heavily armed patrols entered the villages and fighting broke out which resulted in the death of 26 Turkish Cypriots before the patrol eventually withdrew from the immediate area. Turkey, not surprisingly, issued an ultimatum stating that they were willing and able to intervene in force in order to protect Turkish Cypriots. They also massed troops along the Thracian border which separates separating Greece and Turkey, and also began collecting together an amphibious invasion force. The ultimatum’s conditions were several – the expulsion of Georgios Grivas from the island together with the removal of all Greek troops from Cyprus.
They demanded compensation for the casualties at Ayios Theodhoros and Kophinou, a bringing to an end what seemed to them unfair pressure on the Turkish Cypriot community and finally the disbanding of the Cypriot National Guard. Grivas was expelled to mainland Greece, but returned secretly. However he died while still in hiding. Despite the resignation of Grivas the Turks did not fall back form their threatening position, President Lyndon Johnson of the United States of America sent Cyrus Vance as special envoy to Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus.
He arrived in Ankara in late November 1967 and began ten days of negotiations with all concerned that defused the immediate situation. Greece agreed that it would withdraw its military personnel from Cyprus except for those allowed by earlier treaties, provided that Turkey acted in a similar way. Turkey agreed to this, and the crisis passed for the time being. During the months of December 1967 and early January 1968, some 10,000 Greek troops were withdrawn. Archbishop Makarios did not disband the National Guard however. He would have been wiser to have done so as in 1974 it was they, urged on by the Athenian junta, who rebelled against him.
The article goes on to describe how in December 1967 Turkish Cypriot leaders announced the provision of “transitional administration” which would govern the Turkish Cypriot community’s affairs “until such time as the provisions of the Constitution of 1960 have been fully implemented. ” ‘Basic Principles’ were formulated i. e. 19 governing articles. Although it was run in a similar way to a cabinet the new administration did not call itself a government, as this would have been unconstitutional. Despite this Greek Cypriots saw it as the precursor to proposed partition.
The actions were also criticized by U. Thant, the then Secretary General of the United Nations. Time US carried a report in July 1974 entitled ‘Big troubles over a small island’. This report, which runs to 8 pages, begins by describing the Turkish invasion, when troops landed to welcoming crowds in the Turkish sector of the island’s capital Nicosia. The writer has gone to great trouble to produce as objective a report as possible by including both facts and comments from both sides of the divide as well as those from other interested parties.
They quote ( page 1) a paratrooper, a member of the Turkish military ‘We are just here to look after the welfare of the Turkish community. ’ The reporter himself comments, ( page 3) ‘Strangest and saddest of all was that the first battle between Greeks and Turks in seven years had been touched off by bitter animosity between Greek and Greek. ’ He places the root of the war as an enmity which had built up between Cypriot President Makarios and Greek Brigadier General Dimitrios Ioannides. Makarios felt that General Ioannides had sought to turn his own people against him.
The violently anti-Communist Athens government was suspicious of the way in which the archbishop dealt with Moscow as well the support he received from the Cypriot Communist Party, a 40,000 member group. The Athenian military junta worried that he would open Cypriot ports to the Soviet navy and this had resulted ultimately in the coup which overthrew him. The President had been only to aware of the threat to his personal safety of which he claimed to have proof and had spoken in a sermon only a few days before the coup of ‘ the invisible hand that is threatening the liberty of Cyprus and menacing my life.
’ The first Turkish paratroopers had landed just after 6 am. By noon they had been reinforced by large numbers of naval personnel and Turkish ships hovered outside Kyrenia harbor on the northern coast, while infantrymen were helicoptered on shore and frogmen swam to land and in one day 6,000 Turkish military personnel had landed and this number would be reinforced in the next few days by both personnel and equipment, including tanks, all backed up by the Turkish air force who attacked strategically important points such as bridges and police stations.
A flotilla of Greek ships tried to make a landing near Paphos, the birth place of Makarios and a place where loyalty to the Archbishop was at its highest.