The Cyprus Problem by River Daniel age 13

It was recently Peace And Freedom Day and I asked readers to send me information about what happened before, during and after the 1974 war and also what the future may hold for Cyprus and it’s people. From the information I was given and from research I have created a time line of  Cyprus events which might have led to the Cyprus war.

1571

This was when the Ottomans ruled Cyprus. When the Ottomans took over from the Venetians most Cypriots were relieved as the Venetians used Cyprus purely for finance, but even today some Greek Cypriots won’t forgive the Ottomans for how they killed 20,000 Greek Cypriots during their first siege.  The Ottomans were Turkish and considering later events, Turkey has never been a favourite of some Greek Cypriots. Another problem with Cyprus at the time was that it lacked skilled craftsmen so families from southern Turkey were moved to Cyprus and were untaxed for three years. Some people say these were the first Turkish Cypriots to come to Cyprus.

1878

By the end of the Ottoman Empire 5,750 Turkish families were moved to Cyprus and lived in over 100 villages. When the Russians started to approach Cyprus territory it alarmed the English as they had an important military base close by and so they reached an agreement with the Ottomans that England would occupy the island for the Ottomans.

While the Cypriots had at first welcomed British rule in the hope of achieving national liberation they soon became disillusioned. Britain taxed the Cypriots heavily in order to pay back the Sultan for giving the island to them. Also at the start of the English rule Cypriots were not allowed to participate in the administration of Cyprus as those decisions were left to the High Commissioner and London but a few years later the system changed and some members of the council were selected by Cypriots, but in reality their participation was very small.

Later the British were also faced with another two major political problems as the Greek Cypriots now wanted enosis with Greece and this resulted in the second problem of keeping them in harmony with Turkish Cypriots who having heard of Greek Cypriots wanting enosis, wanted partition with Turkey. Around this time the British undertook an extensive program of public works including the construction of roads and bridges and improving drinking supplies and also built the first railway line. They also improved the ports and more hospitals and schools were built. Maybe to make Cyprus a more favourable place to live and encourage Cypriots that British rule was the right thing. Later, because Turkey sided with Germany in World War I, Britain offered Cyprus to Greece for siding with Britain against Germany and Turkey. However, this suggestion was rejected along with the chance of enosis. Then during the Second World War Britain again offered Cyprus to Greece in return for help in Bulgaria and Britain was rejected yet again.

EOKA

After the Second World War the Greek Cypriots demanded self determination and, when instead they were offered a new constitution, Colonel George Grivas launched EOKA. EOKA was a terrorist group whose prime job was to rid the Cypriots of British rule and increase chances of enosis with Greece. The campaign started when the first EOKA bombs exploded at 00.30 hours on 1st of April 1955, lasting until 1959 and causing the death of more Greek Cypriots than British. EOKA received direct support from Greece in terms of money, arms and organization. Under a 1959 compromise settlement known as Zurich-London agreements, Cyprus became an independent Republic in 1960. Since then, April 1 is a national holiday to celebrate the EOKA. It is celebrated in memorial services in churches and gatherings in cities and villages in the Greek Cypriot part of Cyprus.

TMT

TMT was a group very much like EOKA apart from the fact that they were Turkish. TMT stands for the Turkish Resistance Organization and they were created to counter the Greek Cypriot fighters’ organization, EOKA, and also to bring partition to Cyprus. All of the members were called mujahid and the name of their leader was Fatin Rüştü Zorlu. They were also known for using the sign of a Gray Wolf which in Turkey is a symbol and important archetype of mythology and the organization announced itself to Cyprus on the 29th November 1957 by handing out leaflets for partition. TMT was mainly active between 1957 and 1974 and were constantly accused of terrorism and killing left wing Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots but TMT claimed it was only in response to the danger of EOKA.

1960

In 1960 Cyprus became an independent republic with the former archbishop Makarios as the president of Cyprus and the vice president of Cyprus was a Turkish Cypriot. The republic was running nowhere nearly as smoothly as it should have as massive differences between the two sides began to erupt and cause problems in the partnership Republic of Cyprus and it wasn’t long before fighting started between the two groups of Cypriots.

1963

This year the civil war officially started between Turkish and Greek Cypriots and ended the hopes of a United Cyprus Republic as there were now massacres of each side and no one was safe. It started off with Turkish Cypriots leaving the republic government after a court told Makarios that he failed to uphold article 173 of the constitution which was to establish separate municipalities for the Turkish Cypriots. Makarios ignored the court and proposed thirteen amendments to the constitution. But, according to a historian called Keith Kyle, those amendments were in the Greek Cypriot’s favour as both presidents would lose their ability to overturn judgements, the separate municipalities what Turkish Cypriots wanted would be abandoned and the civil service ratio would be set to population ratios. This was not good for Turkish Cypriots because of their much smaller population compared to Greek Cypriots. This would mean that Turkish Cypriots would lose their jobs to Greek Cypriots and this was why Turkish Cypriots walked out of the civil service. After these events the Turkish Cypriots believed they were being turned from co-founders of the republic into the minority.

It also became clear some Greek Cypriots didn’t think enosis had disappeared with independence and even Makarios said “independence is the first step towards enosis” but it was not only some Greek Cypriots who wanted changes in the same way that some Turkish Cypriots wanted partition with Turkey and believed it was a ‘safeguard’ from enosis.

After the Turkish Cypriots left the government Cypriots started fighting again. On one occasion, on December 21, 1963, in the early hours of Saturday morning, around 2 a.m., six Turkish Cypriot men and four women were driving to their homes in Nicosia when they were stopped by a group of Greek Cypriot civilian men at the Turkish quarter of Tahtakale bordering the Greek Cypriot part of Nicosia. The Greek Cypriots pulled their guns and said that they were policeman. They asked for identification and wanted to search them. The Turkish Cypriots objected to this harassment and an argument began between the two sides. At this moment  uniformed Greek Cypriot police men appeared suddenly in their cars carrying sterling sub-machine guns and opened fire on the Turkish Cypriots. One of the Turkish Cypriot men and one of the women died just a few hundred meters from their homes.

The Turkish were now getting involved in the fighting and in 1964 Tilliria was bombed by Turkish planes for four days and the outcome was 54 Greek Cypriots and Greeks killed and 125 injured, including civilians. The chaos of the bombing was ended after the intervention of the UN Security Council.

1974

In 1971 the Greek military Junta got involved  and Colonel George Grivas returned to Cyprus and branded Makarios a traitor as Makarios had by now abandoned the idea of enosis and saw it as an obstacle to independence. Colonel George Grivas established a paramilitary group known as the National Organization Of Cyprus Fighters or EOKA-B. The junta in Athens gave funds to Grivas to carry out terrorist attacks and funded pro-enosis newspapers. When Makarios failed to disband the national guard, with its officer class dominated by mainland Greece, this meant that the junta had control over the Cyprus military establishment, leaving Makarios isolated and a vulnerable target. Makarios was worried of possible assassination attempts to kill and replace him with a pro-enosis president. One such assassination attempt was when, just after Makarios had an interview with a reporter about the Cyprus problem, the helicopter he was flying in was shot down, but Makarios was unharmed when the helicopter crashed. After more pressure on Makarios from the Greek military Junta, EOKA B and Greek Cypriots he disappeared from his house to a British base where the British flew him out of Cyprus.

Nicos Samson became the president of Cyprus after Makarios was overthrown but only for eight days before he was forced out by the Turkish military. His birth name was Nicos Georghiades but when he became a journalist he changed his name to Nicos Sampson so he may be distinguished from the rest of his family. When Cyprus were under British rule he was part of George Grivas’s EOKA A and the British police found he had an unusual habit of being the first photographer at the scene of EOKA shootings. Nicos Sampson was soon arrested for having firearms in his possession which under the British emergency rule was a death sentence but he was instead given a life sentence after complaints that he had been tortured.  Just a year and a half later though he was released from prison under the Zurich and London agreement in 1960 and when he returned to Cyprus he was given a heroes welcome.

In 1974 when the Greek Junta overthrew Makarios, claiming he was dead, they appointed Nicos Sampson as the replacement president chosen from several possible candidates. His regime had gathered and detained more than a thousand Makarios supporters.  While Nicos Sampson was president of Cyprus there were rumors of him planning genocide on Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus. In 1981 Nicos Sampson was supposed to have said to an Athens newspaper in an interview  “if Turks did not launch the operation we would have not just succeeded in enosis, we would have eradicated all Turks from the island.” However when I did research on this I found out that it was only Turkish Cypriots speaking about it and when I looked up the Nicos Sampson interview I couldn’t find out which newspaper he spoke to either. The possible plans for the genocide were one of the biggest reasons for Turkish intervention. Also on July 22nd 1974 the Washington Star News reported ” bodies littered the streets and there were mass burials, people told by Makarios to lay down their arms were being shot down by the national guard.”

So after these events Turkey landed in Cyprus on July 20th 1974 but they didn’t start well at all because when the first two squads of Turkish troops landed they started shooting at each other thinking their own squads were the enemy. But Turkey picked up from there and after just controlling a beachhead in the north they eventually controlled 38% of the island and after a second offensive finally took control of 37% of Cyprus.

Ceasefire lines were drawn in green and a buffer zone manned by the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), which had been in there since 1964. Except for occasional incidents between soldiers in the buffer zone, the island was free of violent conflict from 1974 until August 1996, when violent clashes led to the death of two demonstrators and escalated tension. The situation has been quiet since 1996.

2004

It was April 2004 when the Turkish Cypriots approved of, and the Greek Cypriots rejected, a call for a UN-sponsored plan called the Annan Plan. The plan not going through disappointed EU officials who had agreed to allow Cyprus to join that year partly because it might have resolved the problems between the two sides. There were a few reasons for the approval and rejection by each side. The Turkish Cypriots wanted to become part of a reunification as it was needed for economical reasons, plus they no longer saw the Greek Cypriots as a threat. The main reasons for  the Greek Cypriot rejection of the Annan Plan was that they believed it was pro-Turkish and it had inadequate safeguards for Greek Cypriots in the north who would have limited rights to return to their property. They also did not like the Cyprus flag changes and the fact that the UN security council did not guarantee post reunification security.

Cypriot points of view

“Haier” (Greek Cypriot)

“today 36 years ago, when I was around his age, I lost my father, 2 uncles and a cousin his age. They were living not far from where he is enjoying his summer break. Tell him, they were tortured before shot and buried in a mass grave. Tell him, I had to live in a tent for 2 years wondering if my father was alive. Tell him my mother died soon after leaving me and another 2 kid’s orphan. Tell him, to this day, the people he sees on TV (TC TV), telling him all these things about the story of CY, are the people that refuse to tell me where my father is buried.
Tell him, please, that even people like me have decided not to hate TCs for this. That we want peace.”

“Cyprus” (Turkish Cypriot)

“Jerry says, the rape of hundreds of Greek Cypriot women and girls

“numbers are based on exaggerated assumptions as it is in everything in GC propaganda machine.  What would you say for the rape of hundreds of Turkish Cypriot women and girls?  Do you believe that, all females in villages killed and just put into mass graves? No, they were raped first, shot and then put into graves. In society we had preferred not to talk about these rapes to much or to make it political advertisement in order not to disturb their families’ psychology and not to increase their pain even deeper. Necessary reports had taken by UN. It had happened on both side. You had been raping TC from 63 to 74.

Turkey’s obligation upon intervention should have been to restore the constitution
This was the intention. When the intervention had started, liflets from airplanes had been distributed all over the island; they had announced their intention from media. What happens when someone shoots at you? You shoot back and fight. There were no Turkish army in Turkish site of Nicosia, Limassol, Larnaka, Pafos and most of the TC villages. They first were only in Kyrenia and north side of Nicosia.  But wherever there was no Turkish army, got under heavy fire by GC.  Villages were attacked, civilians were massacred. Although it was junta in control first, in the first cease-fire Makarios didn’t agree for anything neither. Then the intention had changed.”

“Antonis Antonides” (Greek Cypriot)

When I checked my email address I found 6 comments from my original article. I only chose the most non-biased one which was by someone called Antonis Antonides, however it surprised me that he was Greek Cypriot.  He insisted that part of the reason the government failed in 1963 was the lack of trust and also that Greek Cypriots still wanted enosis with Greece and Turkish Cypriots wanted a partition with Turkey. One thing that really surprised me that of all six emails that I got Antonis Antonides was the only person who didn’t think Turkish Cypriots should be allowed to trade directly with the EU and along with the majority of emailers he thought the sides should remain divided and only by putting up ‘hard’ borders in Cyprus would there be a long lasting solution to the problem. I do mostly agree with Antonis Antonides except I believe that it would benefit Cyprus if it were all a part of the EU but I do agree that “hard” borders will be the only viable solution as it is quite clear that Turkish and Greek Cypriots can’t really get along together especially not as a joint republic.

I only did this article to help me understand what the big problem is in Cyprus. I didn’t care at all about stopping the arguing and fighting in Cyprus and I wasn’t trying to help everyone be friends, I just wanted to understand why there is all of the fighting and hate. And I think I now do understand.

And then when I checked my email address I found about 6 comments from my form but I only chose the most un-biased one which was by someone called Antonis Antoniades and this was exactly the questions and answers

Qu.1 – Where do you usually live?

Cyprus (south)

Qu.2 – What do you think caused the Cyprus Government to fail in 1963?

The continuous, long-lasting, mistrust between the two communities and the divergence of their ultimate target: the G/C still silently pursued union with Greece (enosis) whereas, the T/C pursued (silently with the direct assistance of Turkey, the partition of the island (tacsim). No one should underestimate the suspicious role of the US and the UK Governments at the time who clearly did not trust Archbishop Makarios, who was the first lawfully elected President of the Republic of Cyprus and who aspired to keep Cyprus outside NATO and instead participate into the now defunct Non-Alignment movement.

Qu.3 – What do you think caused Turkish troops to land in Cyprus in1974?

The coup d’eta caused by the Greek Military Junta at the time which had overthrown President Makarios, gave the legal and moral excuse to Turkey to invade Cyprus and formally enforce the partition plan which was conceived in the mid-50’s;

Qu.4 – Should Turkish Cypriots be able to trade directly with the EU?

No

Qu.5 – What should happen to Cyprus in the future?

A formal partition of the island with the establishment of “hard” borders seems to be the only viable and long-lasting solution to the problem.

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