Friday, 22 November 2013
Karamanlis’ betrayal of Cyprus: ‘Greece cannot help you. You’re on your own.’
Above is an interesting item from RIK news broadcast this week in the aftermath of the death of former president of Cyprus Glafkos Clerides in which the prominent jurist Polys Polyviou talks about the period between the first (20 July) and second (14 August) phases of Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974.
The three-week ‘ceasefire’ was supposed to allow peace talks to proceed in Geneva between Britain, Turkey, Greece and the two Cypriot sides, while in fact Turkey used the hiatus to build up its forces on the island in preparation for a more decisive military operation, the first operation having failed to achieve its objectives. It was during the Geneva talks period that the Americans – even if we accept their claim that they were ignorant of the Greek junta’s coup against President Makarios and impotent to prevent the first Turkish invasion – provided encouragement and diplomatic cover to Ankara to complete the forcible partition of Cyprus.
At the Geneva talks, Glafkos Clerides was chief negotiator for the Greek Cypriot side and it’s worth drawing attention to Polyviou’s recollection of the interaction between Clerides and Konstantinos Karamanlis, who had assumed power in Greece following the fall of the junta.
Prior to going to Geneva, Clerides visited Athens for consultations with the Greek government.
Polyviou – who was part of the Cypriot team – says that in Athens, Clerides met with Karamanlis and minister of defence, Evangelos Averoff.
Karamanlis said to Clerides: ‘The situation is exceptionally difficult. Our armed forces are in a chaotic and deficient state. I can’t predict what will happen, but I’m 70-80 percent certain Greece cannot help Cyprus.’
Karamanlis’ advice to Clerides was to prolong the negotiations in Geneva in order to give Greece time to influence the positions of the major powers, which were favouring Turkey. Clerides responded to Karamanlis that, in his view, in Geneva the Turks were going to demand partition and that, in the event of the Greek Cypriots not agreeing to this, would resume hostilities to bring about their aim. Clerides asked Karamanlis what Greece proposed to do should Turkey resume military operations against Cyprus.
Karamanlis’ reply was: ‘Glafkos, I can’t tell you anymore than I’ve already told you.’
With the Greek Cypriots unwilling to accept the Turkish demands for partition and the Turks not prepared to further delay their military plans, Turkey broke off the Geneva talks. On 14 August, the Greek Cypriot delegation flew to Athens to seek the support of Karamanlis and the Greek government against what seemed imminent Turkish attack.
In a dramatic meeting, Polyviou recalls Karamanlis telling Clerides: ‘Greece cannot help you. You’re on your own.’
To which Clerides replied: ‘Mr President, in the name of God, can’t you offer us anything at all? I appreciate you cannot send land forces; but can’t you at least send a ship, something, anything, to divert the Turks?’
Karamanlis: ‘Glafkos, we cannot do anything.’
Clerides: ‘So what did [Greek foreign minister, Georgios] Mavros mean when he told us in Geneva, “in a choice between dishonour and war, we prefer war”? Why did he tell us this?’
Karamanlis: ‘I don’t know. I’m not Mavros.’