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.’


PhilippouApogonos said...

Turkey could not have successfully invaded Cyprus without massive treason in Cyprus and Greece and support from the hegemonic powers in the region. We should recall that in the first stage of the invasion the Turks made minor gains with strong resistance from leaderless Cyprus army units.It was only during the Kissinger arranged ceasefire that Turkey unloaded its tanks and army units and then engaged in the second bloody stage of the invasion to occupy 37% of Cyprus along the lines drawn by Kissinger carried in his personal files.
I have seen reports of a secret meeting between Kissinger , Karamanlis and Ecevit in Paris before the Turkish invasion. This could explain Karamanlis position re defending Cyprus.
As a matter of fact the Greek army in 1974 was powerful and could inflict real damage to Turkey. Moreover, Greek submarines were in the area. Indeed , one submarine commander had all invasion ships in his targets and asked for permission to sink them all which never came.

John Akritas said...

I've spoken to people in Greece who were called up as part of the mobilisation that took place at the time and they told me that they were ready to fight in Cyprus and morale was high. It was also high among Greek and Cypriot forces on the island. Karamanlis' protestations of disarray don't ring true. Also, the first Turkish operation was a shambles and the morale of their forces was not as high as ours.

peter said...

they didnt have to send anybody,they could have cut loose there two state of the art german sub u 209-1100 that they had just received and sould have sunk two thirds of the turkish landing force.

Hermes said...

I have read that Greek armed forces were in disarray around 1973 thanks to the Junta neglecting training, re-supply and maintenance for many years.

Of course, that does not excuse Karamnlis's disgraceful behaviour.

John Akritas said...

It is quite possible that the junta did neglect the armed forces (I don't know enough, here) and Karamanlis feared that getting into a full-blown war with Turkey would expose Greece in the Aegean and Thrace. However, I believe that if Greece had shown some resolve to fight in Cyprus, then Turkey would not have risked an all-out war with Greece, nor would the Americans have allowed such a deterioration. Something in Cyprus could have been salvaged and the national humiliation that followed and on which the metapolitefsi was built could have been avoided.

Tisis said...

"H Κύπρος κείται μακράν." Meaning, Cyprus lies far away. Can't forget this traitor.