Sunday, 22 February 2009

Konstantinos Karamanlis: the man who betrayed Cyprus

Someone has asked me why in my post on Great Greeks I said I would resign my membership of the Hellenic race if Konstantinos Karamanlis came out anywhere near the top of the list. The reason is simple: the man betrayed Cyprus – and by extension Greece – not once, but twice. Firstly, he betrayed Cyprus by forcing Makarios in 1959 to sign the Zurich and London agreements that granted Cyprus a poisoned and restricted form of independence; and, secondly, in 1974, Karamanlis, as prime minister of Greece after the junta fell, in the crucial period between the first and second Turkish invasions of Cyprus, did not send one Greek soldier, ship or aircraft to defend the island even as the Turks openly reinforced their Kyrenia bridgehead and made clear their intentions to force partition on Cyprus. Karamanlis' sole response to the Turkish invasion was to withdraw Greece from the military wing of NATO, although he was soon begging that Greece be allowed to rejoin and, in 1980, it did.

Anyway, below is an
article that appeared in Ethnos last week by Giorgos Delastik on the treacherous role of Karamanlis during the negotiations that resulted in 1959 Zurich-London agreements. (My translation).

Zurich: the treacherous agreement
Exactly 50 years ago, in the second fortnight of February 1959, the tragic fate of Cyprus was irrevocably sealed: Konstantinos Karamanlis, prime minister of Greece at the time, just before midday on 11 February 1959, put his signature to the disgraceful Zurich Agreement, dictated by the British and Americans, which granted Cyprus a mutilated form of independence and will pass into history as a 'betrayal'.

One week later, on the afternoon of 19 February 1959, the London Conference was convened with the participation of the leaders of Britain, Turkey and Greece as well Archbishop Makarios as the representative of the Greek Cypriots and Fazil Kuchuk, representing the Turkish Cypriots. The London Agreement put the finishing touches and made concrete the Zurich Agreement.

With the Zurich and London agreements, the Republic of Cyprus, before it was even born, was ushered in front of the firing squad establishing, as it did, a regime that gave so many rights to the Turkish Cypriot minority as to make it impossible for the new state to function and for Cyprus to be governed.

And, indeed, by 1963, Greek and Turkish Cypriots were massacring each other, the two communities were divided de facto, and the Republic of Cyprus effectively ceased to be a unitary state. The road to the Turkish invasion in 1974 was opened.

On the morning of 18 February 1959 in London, there took place a dramatic meeting of the Greek Cypriot delegation chaired by Makarios to discuss whether or not the Greek Cypriot side should sign the London Agreement. Of the 35 delegates, 27 voted to authorise Makarios to do as he thought fit, while just eight delegates unequivocally came out against the agreement – the leftist Greek Cypriot mayors, Vassos Lyssarides and Tassos Papadopoulos.

Konstantinos Karamanlis exerted strong pressure on Makarios. Observing that Makarios was leaning towards rejecting the agreements, Karamanlis angrily told the Cypriot leader: 'At this point, I'm ending the Cyprus policy of the Greek government. If you want to carry on the struggle [for Enosis], you must look elsewhere for support.' (Στο σημείο αυτό τερματίζω την κυπριακή πολιτική. Αν θέλετε εσείς να συνεχίσετε τον αγώνα, θα πρέπει να αναζητήσετε αλλού συμπαράσταση).

With the Zurich and London agreements, Karamanlis unscrupulously sacrificed Cyprus to the interests of the USA and NATO. Writing in Difficult years – 1950-1960, a book indispensable to anyone wanting to understand the Cyprus issue, Nikos Kranidiotis, for decades close associate of Makarios and Cyprus' ambassador to Greece, tells us that: 'Greek governments… enduring continuous pressure (direct and indirect) from America and NATO sought a peaceful solution to the Cyprus problem within the "framework of NATO"… Many times the view prevailed that narrow national interests should be subordinated to the wider interests of NATO… [Karamanlis] didn't want to jeopardise relations with Greece's traditional ally, Great Britain, or come into conflict with America or Turkey.'

And as Bishop Kyprianos of Kyrenia put it in a letter to the president of the Greek parliament: 'The regime imposed by the Zurich and London agreements is infinitely worse than the colonial regime. The sacred and inalienable right of self-determination, which is even exercised by the blacks in Africa, has been eliminated.'

The 'Gentleman's Agreement'
Cyprus, in the final analysis, fell victim to the rabid anti-communism of the period, as revealed by the secret 'Gentleman's Agreement' between Konstantinos Karamanlis and his Turkish counterpart Adnan Menderes, signed in Zurich and published years later.

Article One of this agreement stated that: 'Greece and Turkey will support the Republic of Cyprus' entry to NATO;' while Article Two said: 'It is agreed by the two prime ministers… that the communist party and communist activities will be made illegal in Cyprus.'

The Gentleman's Agreement between Athens and Ankara exposes the real motives behind Konstantinos Karamanlis' Cyprus policy. [Preserving Greece's relations with its NATO partners] is all that bothered him. He was indifferent to the fate of Cyprus.