Wednesday, 22 July 2009

The roots of US support for a Turkish invasion of Cyprus

I want to return to the events in Cyprus in 1963-4, i.e. the period during which President Makarios proposed 13 amendments to the dysfunctional 1960 constitution; the intercommunal fighting that followed; the Acheson plans; and Turkey’s threat to invade the island.

Regarding the threat of Turkish invasion, this was prevented by American disapproval of any such action for fear it might provoke an all-out war between Greece and Turkey; by Turkey's concern that the Soviet Union would intervene on behalf of Cyprus; and by Turkish anxieties that its armed forces were ill-prepared for an amphibious assault on Cyprus and that any such operation could end in disaster.

We note, therefore, that in the early-mid 1960s, mostly because of limits placed on Greece and Turkey by a mutual dependence on America and subordination to NATO interests, there existed a reasonable balance of power between Greece and Turkey. Relations between Greece and Turkey were not as characterised, as they are today, by Turkish belligerence and Greek passivity.

What changed, therefore, between 1964 and 1974, to allow Turkey to escape these constraints and overcome its reservations and invade and partition Cyprus?

1. Turkey began to doubt the value of subordinating to America and NATO its foreign and defence interests and started to develop capabilities, relations and a psychology that would allow it to act independently.

2. Although there was a similar movement in Greece demanding that the country release itself from dependence on America, that movement was curtailed, first by the palace coup against the Centre Union government of Giorgios Papandreou (see my post here); and, then, by the colonels' coup in 1967, which initiated a regime utterly subordinate to America.

3. After the failure of former US secretary of state Dean Acheson to secure the partition of Cyprus between Greece and Turkey in 1964, American hostility to Cyprus’ legitimate head of state, President Makarios – who the Americans regarded as not sufficiently anti-communist and personally responsible for obstructing a resolution of the Cyprus problem in accordance with either of the two so-called Acheson plans – intensified to the point of hysteria and hatred and America began to connive at ways to impose the first Acheson plan on Cyprus by force, by persuading Greece to neutralise Makarios and by actively encouraging Turkey to prepare for an invasion of the island.

Describing this gradual change in American policy – from trying to restrain Turkey in Cyprus to actively supporting a Turkish invasion – Turkish writer Nasuh Uslu in his book The Cyprus question as an issue of Turkish foreign policy and Turkish-American relations, 1959-2003, says that after, at US-mediated talks in Geneva in August 1964, both Greece and Turkey rejected the second Acheson plan for the partition of Cyprus:

'Acheson returned to Washington and met [in September] with President Johnson and other top administration officials to discuss a way out of the deadlock… Acheson stated that [the main reasons] a stalemate was reached… were Papandreou's weakness and Makarios' strength. Each passing day, Makarios was becoming stronger while the Turks were becoming impatient. If the situation were allowed to continue in this direction, a violent, uncontrolled Turkish invasion of the island would be inevitable. Acheson and [US undersecretary of state George] Ball argued that the only solution to the problem was the fait accompli of a controlled Turkish invasion of the island. In their plan, the Turks would seize the part of Cyprus which they would have received under the first Acheson plan and then the Greeks and Greek Cypriots would instantly proclaim the unification of the rest of Cyprus with Greece.

'In fact (Uslu writes), Acheson had raised the issue with the Turks during the Geneva talks and had received a positive response. On 4 August 1964 Acheson told the Turkish delegation that he did not advise them to resort to military force but if they did so, America would not oppose them. After the Turks rejected the second Acheson plan, Acheson told the Turkish representatives at Geneva: "I am privately and friendly telling you: Can you invade the part of Cyprus which was reserved for you without causing too much bloodshed? If you can do so, you can invade it. The American Sixth Fleet does not obstruct your way, on the contrary it protects you." Turkish commander General Turgut Sunalp took Acheson's proposal to [prime minister Ismet] Inonu the next day. Inonu rejected it by saying that he could not initiate such an adventure without the official approval of the American administration.

'In the meeting of American officials in September 1964, Acheson and Ball told Johnson that the Turks liked their scheme and all that was required to put the plan into motion was a signal from Washington. In order to be sure that he understood the plan of Ball and Acheson, President Johnson summarised the scheme and said that they believed that a resort to force was inevitable and that the only question was "whether it should be messy and destructive or controlled and eventually productive, in accordance with a plan". Acheson agreed that this was a fair summary. Initially, Johnson seemed interested in Acheson's proposal but in the end he rejected it. The war [in Vietnam] was already a major trouble for him [and] he could not consent to the outbreak of another one. He thought that [any] Turkish invasion might not be as clean as Acheson and Ball expected and that it might escalate into a major war…

'American officials were of the opinion that the Greek side was primarily responsible for the failure of the Geneva talks. A few months later Dean Acheson wrote to the American ambassador to Egypt: "We came close to an understanding which might have cropped Archbishop [Makarios'] whiskers and solved the idiotic problem of Cyprus… Our weakness was Papandreou's weakness, a garrulous, senile wind bag without power of decision or resolution. He gave away our plans at critical moments to Makarios, who undermined him with the Greek press and political left. A little money, which we had, the Greek 7th Division in Cyprus, which the Greeks had, and some sense of purpose in Athens, which did not exist, might have permitted a different result. The Turks could not have been more willing to co-operate".'

ADDENDUM: (1) In saying there was a balance of power between Greece and Turkey in the early-mid 1960s, this should not imply that Greece was militarily or diplomatically strong at the time, only that its weakness and dependence on America was well matched by Turkey's.

(2) It is clear that despite the US's failure in this period – 1963-4 – to close down the Cyprus problem by way of partition, America did not abandon its optimum solution for Cyprus, or the method by which it expected to bring about the death of the Republic of Cyprus, i.e. the overthrow of Makarios followed by Turkish invasion. We know this is the case because this is precisely what happened in Cyprus in 1974, on 15 July (the coup against Makarios) and 20 July (the Turkish invasion). What had changed between 1964 and 1974, then, was American diplomacy's ability to persuade Athens (ruled in 1974 by a slavishly pro-American junta) to act against Makarios and its willingness to give Turkey the assurance it had wanted in 1964, that any military adventure it embarked on in Cyprus would enjoy US support.


Anonymous said...

Political bankruptcy characterized Greek and Cypriot deportment and conduct in foreign affairs and internal politics. Makarios was a thorn on Greece's side. Did he want Enosis ? If yes, he did not show any enthusiasm for it, nor a steely resolve to pursue it. If the answer was No, then Makarios ( he can not do so now) owes posterity an explanation as to what and how he visualized Cyprus in the future after the British were gone. If he thought he could have an independent Cyprus, his calculations were flawed and he must have had a short circuit in his brain processes ( something very typical of our Greek political charlatans). As far as Greece is concerned we had a pauper's government , befuddled with confusion and disarray. Giorgios Papandreu's victory at the polls in 1963, made matters worse; the intervention of the military was unavoidable . Who could expect a leftist cripto communist Papandreu government to show nationalistic zeal and militant spirit to bring about Enosis ? or even struggle for Cyprus ?. Papandreu's government was a disaster, hell bent in " socializing" Greece at a helter skelter pace with the internationalist philosophy and essence of his politics. Don't expect territorial re-vindication of irredentist claims through a international socialist mechanism. What those corrupt internationalist government can bring us is open borders and the brotherhood of mankind; not independence, sovereignty and national identity. We must realize and take cognizance that opposing the effeminate Papandreu socialists ; we had a nationalist and militarstic regime in neighbouring Turkey. It was like pitting a Turkish rotweiler against a Greek poodle. The outcome and clash of such disparate and opposing models need not be a guessing game.

John Akritas said...

Makarios did want enosis, but he wanted the whole of Cyprus to unite with Greece, not a portion of it; and he was not a 'thorn in Greece's side' but a thorn in the side of the Greek political establishment, which was beholden to foreign interests and was happy to share Cyprus with Britain and Turkey.

Also, it was the left in Greece in the 1960s and 1970s that followed a more 'nationalist' line that aspired to enhance Greece's independence and protect Cyprus from American and Turkish machinations. It was the Greek right that consistently sold out Greek national interests.

lastgreek said...

What a farce the "Greek" right (1967-1974). It was a dictatorship responsive to Yankee interests, basically. And the "Greek" dictator himself, George Papadopoulos? Nothing more than a bloody paid agent for the C.I.A.

Anonymous said...

There is no evidence to corroborate the myth of the "Left being more nationalistic and trying to distance themselves from the American hegemon". It was pure and simple posturing .The left can not be more nationalistic than an opposum trying to be an eagle, the left are internationalists. Papandreu was a mendacious cockerel, leading a mendacious crypto communist party. The man was an abject failure and his bravado and blustering against the Americans was a parody and a comedy. Papadopoluos was not a paid CIA agent; that is another myth, nursed carefully by the left. He was a thoroughbred nationalist. However, he too failed in his mission, if he had any indeed other than to keep the communists out of power. We must not allow to digress and make omission to the fact that the military junta that took over in 1967 was deposed and defenestrated in a palace coup led by the inarticulate and inept bumbling armachair coronel-general Ionides and company. Their cosmovision and vision for Greece and Hellenism differed from the Papadopoulos junta. The Ionides military adventurers were another disaster for us Greeks. It all boils down to bankrupt politics. The bankruptcy continues to this day.

lastgreek said...

Papadopoluos was not a paid CIA agent; that is another myth, nursed carefully by the left.

Are you aware that the "Greek" intelligence agency, KYP, was created and funded by the United
States, i.e., by the American intelligence services?

Are you aware that Papadopoulos was the liason officer between KYP and the CIA?

He was a thoroughbred nationalist.

One more time: Are you aware that Papadopoulos was the liason officer between KYP and the CIA . . . who provided Greek government information---privileged information---to the CIA?

You're good with words. Pray tell, what's another word for "TREASON"?

Papadopoulos was a buffoon and a traitor---a traitor because he put the interests of a foreign power ahead of his own country.

And please stop all this talk about communism in Greece (as if a communist or a socialist can't be a Greek nationalist). Terrorist nations like the United States only care for one thing: SUBSERVIENCE. As long as a country subserviates its economic interests (it's all about money!)to the United States, the said country can be ruled by chimpanzees for all the Americans care. The "Greek" junta subserviated the interests of the Greek nation to the United States.


Anonymous said...

I respectfully beg to differ with your interpretations Last Greek but I hear what you have to say and if you feel and believe the way you di in this respect, that is okay. The end result, whatever the political iterations and its characters interplay which you make allusion to, it irrevocably applies to all the preceding pailancho governments Greece was blessed with following the end of the civil tragedy. From the moment Greece was aided in her civil war by the Tommies and Yanks who lent their weight against the marxists; we had nothing but weak, spineless servile domestics in charge of government , paying obeissance and doing the bidding of the Anglo's. The Greek intelligence service was created by the Yanks, obviously "we" will have interlocutors and an interface with the CIA, which are treated like the local CIA plants. It is still the same today; Greece does not have her own intelligence service, she never had ( we might think we have; this thought is an absurd illusion) , and the foreigners run the agency with foreign and Greek " intelligence" employees. The final balance is the same : bankrupt politics , ( regardless of characters or political honchos, they are all the end products of the same system - liberal, international ,pseudo marxist, social democratic- which has been esconced in Greece since 1945) denuded of an ethos for national defence and national politics. We dutifully expect the European Enosis to do everything for us and Brussels word ( an international word) is the last word. Therefore the turk's encroachment on Cyprus will continue... and continue and the muslims will invariably gain the ascendancy there. Opposing that encroachment we have a tired, etiolated political class ,inherited since 1945 ( ready to be pensioned off), saturated with potroon elements , self serving cronies ,devoid of national feelings and national identity. The Eastern Aegean is ( or was depends on whose view) Greek, the Government is doing nothing to arrest ,deter, and repluse the challenge. Cyprus is an importants key in that geopolitical area

Anonymous said...


I have had my fill about the Junta's alleged affiliations to the CIA, or the Junta acting as CIA agents. The usual tawdry and worn out marxist propaganda shrill. It is sickening to see the reams and reels of writing and serials on the advent of decadent democracy in Greece. It is made into a panegyric, as if Greeece had been reborn with the instauratin of the democratic scoundrels. The Junta is always protrayed as fascists, dictatoria, and ultimately as CIA puppets. Can the accusers make up their minds ? If the Junta were CIA agents; the democratic swindlers that throttled us since 1974 must have been, and still are, Democratic agents. I wonder which bondage is worse ? Fascism or Marxist Democracy ? I would be inclined to agree with Anonymous, Papadopoulos was sidelined , and his team of generals demoted in 1973. No one should blame the Papadopoulos Junta for the Cyprus fiasco. The jerks and masturbators of Ioanides and his armchair generas, wearing uniforms and showing inflated chests in parades, but hiding behind oak panneled offices and mahogany desks when the firing starts ,are the culprits. What were they, CIA agents too ? What was Karamanlis and his coterie of parasitic leeches , agents or puppets of the International socialists ?. Papadopoulos died in jail, a forgotten man. The man had the conviction of his principles , had he renounced to those principles he woud have been allowed to go free.

Peter said...

From the moment Greece was aided in her civil war by the Tommies and Yanks who lent their weight against the marxists; we had nothing but weak, spineless servile domestics in charge of government , paying obeissance and doing the bidding of the Anglo's.

I agree: we have had no true Greek leadership.

Ioannis Metaxas---Alors, c'est la guerre.--- was a dictator... but, love him or hate him, he was Greek to the core.

Fidel Castro was a dictator... again, love him or hate him, he did not subserviate his nation's interests to the United States.

Look at the "sovereign" nations of Latin America who subserviated their interests to the United States. You know, they're not called "Banana Republics" for nothing.

Talking of Latin America and American perfidy, I'd like to plug John Perkins's book Confessions of an Economic Hitman (2004). "Economic hitmen" are the last resort before either a coup (supported and funded by the U.S.) or military invasion. Honduras is a recent example.


I have had my fill about the Junta's alleged affiliations to the CIA, or the Junta acting as CIA agents. The usual tawdry and worn out marxist propaganda shrill.

From Christopher Hithens's Hostage to History: Cyprus from the Ottomans to Kissinger:

Colonel G Papadopoulos had been on the payroll of the CIA since 1952 and acted as the chief liason officer between the Greek KYP and its senior partner in Langley, Virginia. Moreover, he had used a NATO contingency plan, designed to counter unrest in the event of a 'hot' war in the Balkans, to activate his putsch.

In his book, Prescriptions for Prosperity (1983), Lyndon Johnson's former friend and confidant Eliot Janeway describes a visit to Athens with Senator Vance Hartke in the autumn of 1966: 'To our surprise, our visit coincided withe the preliminaries for the Greek military putsch, sponsored by the CIA and the DIA (the undercover Defense Intelligence Agency, an arm of the Department of Defense).' Janeway recounts Johnson's rage at his disclosure of this in a confidential bulletin. The elephant's trunk was gettin ready to strike.

The dispute about the United States' complicity in the junta is, in case,based on a false antithesis. The United States administration had sown the dragon's teeth that sprang up in the shape of the junta. The administration gave encouragement, training and materials to the anti-constitutional forces before the coup, and it became their patron and protector for seven years afterwards.


Peter said...


The Junta is always protrayed as fascists, dictatoria, and ultimately as CIA puppets. Can the accusers make up their minds ? If the Junta were CIA agents; the democratic swindlers that throttled us since 1974 must have been, and still are, Democratic agents. I wonder which bondage is worse ? Fascism or Marxist Democracy ?


The junta ... spoke continuously of a cleansed and reborn country: 'a Greece for Christian Greeks.' It inveighed against all weakness and decadence, and it flirted with ideas of a greater (which is to say larger) Greece. But, like all similar Fascist systems, it was fundamentally unpatriotic, and engaged in furtive mortgaging of Greek interests to outsiders. The nationalist trumpetings were for mass consumption only---a task made easier by the forcible monopoly of Greek press and media which the junta now enjoyed.

No one should blame the Papadopoulos Junta for the Cyprus fiasco.


Papadopoulos, the new strong man, went to a meeting with the Turkish mainland leadership on the border between the two countries at the Evros river. The meeting was intended to consumate a secret Paris meeting held between the Greek Admiral Toumbas and the Turkish minister Ihsan Caglayangil. It would have proclaimed enosis while conceding the basis for partition, and would have made the junta appear 'statesmanlike'. This grandiose demarche got Papadopoulos nowhere. The Turks knew that extra Greek forces had been secretly placed under previous governments and demanded their withdrawal. Only with this proviso would the Turks would the Turks agree to the Acheson proposal for a carve-up between the two countries. They sensed an advantage with the untried Greek government and were determined to press it home. Next month, in November 1967, General Grivas launched attacks on two Turkish Cypriot villages---Ayios Theodoros and Kophinou. The Turks once more threatened invasion, and the Greek government had to admit that it, rather than the Cypriot government, was responsible for Grivas's action. No better excuse could be found for the withdrawal of the 12,000 extra Greek troops from Cyprus, as well as of Grivas himself. With the good offices of Cyrus Vance, this was done. Henceforth, whether a Turkish invasion of the island took place on a good pretext or a bad one, it would be substantially unopposed. And the Turks had another justification for pointing to Greek perfidy.

Among the officers and men withdrawn to Greece that year were many democrats and patriots, who were gradually to be purged from the army altogether.

Papadopoulos died in jail, a forgotten man. The man had the conviction of his principles , had he renounced to those principles he would have been allowed to go free.

Papadopoulos was fortunate not to have suffered the same fate as those thousands of Greeks under the junta: torture and/or death.


lastgreek said...

"Peter" = "lastgreek."

Please excuse the mixup. I used my google account, by mistake, to post

Anonymous said...

Poor Papadopoulos, he shall not rest in peace in Greece. It looks like they have made a urinal bowl out of his character and personality. He can not even defend himself, unless he were to exit from Hades and return for a brief while to seek to redeem himself.
It seems that Hitchens, the english historian, is the point of reference and referent in house when it gets to Cyprus ?. His writings are devoid of any genuine first hand evidence; his historiology stems from versions and third hand accounts; lacks historical value. The Acheson plan was an american-anglo concoction, very ambiguous, ultra ambivalent and open to multifaceted interpretations and an impractical plan ( at the time) to be taken seriously by either turks or Greeks. Don't we have some Greek or Cypriot historians ? Not of the communist tinge of course; who might give us an impartial and objective account of events? We don't want the " official " democratic docudrama serials " of Melina-Karamanlis-Theodorakis corp's de honor's ,that made a grand barbecue of everything the Junta did, and did not do. Theodorakis , our great musician, did not mind embracing Aleende ( a marxist operative) and hugging Castro ( who send thousands to their deaths) and kept himself busy, in between writing magnus opus music, bestowing marxist kisses with every communist jackal in Europe; even promoting the Greko-turkish friendship fraternity; ( a fraternity with the genocidal breed of turks who robbed us of our land and history) can we take this great musician's musings and ruminations as factual and credible ? Maybe yes, depending on whose side of the fence one is sitting. What was Papadopoulos and " his junta officers " charged with ?. Treasonous conduct in the Cyprus disaster ?; malingering in military duties ?. Did the charges had to do with the coup of 1967 alone ?. What about Patakos ?, little is said about him.
Patakos recanted, showed regret for his action ( a turncoat ?) in the coup and walked out after serving a period in jail. None of the coronels or generals were arraigned for the scandalous loss of Cyprus or not rising to the turkish defiance. If we had had a true nationalistic government, these officers should have been charged with treasonous conduct, court martialled and sent to be executed for being proditors ( if Hitchen's account were to be reliably verified ? ). Of course the prosecutors and judges crucifying the failed officers were all " liberal-social- marxist democrats ". All what they were interested was in castigating those " fascists" who raised their hand against the " forces of democracy" . I have read and studied Hitchens and his other manifold works; he is a historian with a slanted background ,and personally I would not credit him, in particular, with any factual knowledge about the Cyprus debacle. He is more in the line of a colorful raconteur. His history on Cyprus is rubber stamped "Anglo-amerikani"; whatever that may mean.