Showing posts with label Acheson plan. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Acheson plan. Show all posts

Friday, 26 July 2013

Five myths about the 1974 coup against Makarios

I came across an interesting piece, Cyprus 1974: five myths about the coup, written by Marios Evriviades, who is professor of International Relations at Panteion University. (Read the entire article in Greek here or here).

The five myths, according to Evriviades, are that: 1. Sampson and EOKA B organised the coup; 2. The objective of the coup was enosis; 3. The objective of the coup was partition; 4. Makarios was deliberately allowed by the junta to escape from the assault on the presidential palace; and 5. The Americans tricked junta leader Dimitrios Ioannides into carrying out the coup.

Below I’ve translated into English extracts that relate to the first three myths Evriviades refers to. I believe Evriviades’ repudiation of the first two myths is compelling and even though I agree with the assertion he makes in discussing myth number three that Turkey’s invasion and partitioning of the island in 1974 did not alter Turkey’s deeper geostrategic goal of controlling the whole of Cyprus, I have my doubts about his view as to when Turkey came to regard partition as falling short of its long-term objectives.

Evriviades starts off his piece by referring to a UK Foreign Office document dated 12 September 1956 revealing that, despite Cyprus being in the throes of its campaign for enosis, Greece, through its foreign minister Evangelos Averoff, was actively promoting the idea of partitioning the island. Evriviades’ says:
‘In July 1956, while EOKA’s liberation struggle was fully underway, Evangelos Averoff was pushing the idea to American diplomats that Cyprus should be partitioned. In September 1956, Averoff repeated to Norway’s foreign minister Halvard Lange that partition was the only possible solution to the Cyprus Question. Two weeks later, Averoff suggested partition in two meetings with Turkey’s ambassador in Athens.’
On to the myths:

1. Sampson and EOKA B organised the coup
Evriviadis says that EOKA B was not involved in the coup and that Nikos Sampson [later installed as president] was completely irrelevant to it. The coup was organised from Athens and was carried out by junta officers in Cyprus, using forces from ELDYK [Hellenic Force in Cyprus] and elite units from the Cyprus National Guard.

Sampson, with a number of bodyguards, came out on to the streets of Nicosia on the morning of the coup on 15 July to find out what was going on. He was arrested along with his bodyguards and held in the basement of the headquarters of the National Guard. Only later, when his identity became known, was Sampson taken to the office of the junta’s main henchman in Cyprus, Brigadier Michalis Georgitsis, who had orchestrated the coup. Because no eminent Cypriots – such as Glafkos Clerides – would agree to be sworn in to replace the deposed (but still alive) president, Archbishop Makarios, Sampson was chosen, even if Sampson was regarded as ‘insane’, both by Athens junta leader Dimitrios Ioannides (who became head of EOKA B when General Georgios Grivas died in January 1974) and Ioannides’ EOKA B representative in Cyprus, Lefteris Papadopoulos.

Despite, Ioannides’ anger and disappointment that the ‘insane’ Sampson was the only man that could be found to make president of Cyprus, the two began to co-operate, with Ioannides’ first order to Sampson being: ‘Nicky, bring me Mouskos’ (i.e. Makarios’) head.’(«Νικολάκη, θέλω το κεφάλι του Μούσκου»).

As for EOKA B, by the beginning of July 1974, it was disintegrating, with its entire local leadership in prison. With the coup, its remaining members took the opportunity to kill resisters and other political opponents. Prior to the coup, EOKA B actions sought to foment conditions of civil war among Greek Cypriots, following the strictures and techniques laid down by the Nato-inspired anti-communist Operation Gladio. The Greek version of Gladio was Κόκκινη Προβιά, and this was applied in Cyprus throughout the reign of the Athens junta (1967-1974). The creation of EOKA B in 1971 and its subsequent activities were products of Κόκκινη Προβιά.

2. The objective of the coup was enosis
Not at all.
Unadulterated, real enosis had been abandoned by Athens in 1957, if not 1956. Any discussion of enosis after the events of 1963-64 [i.e. the Turkish Cypriot uprising] referred to ‘double enosis’, i.e. partition or, more correctly, the dissolution of the Republic of Cyprus and the annexation of some 60% of the island by Greece, with the rest going to Turkey.

Any assertion by the junta that its actions in Cyprus were motivated by a desire for enosis is sheer hypocrisy. The aim of the Ioannides junta was more simple: it was the survival of the junta regime – which felt threatened by a free and democratic Cyprus and by Turkey in the Aegean. By removing the ‘Red Priest’ [Makarios] in Cyprus, Ioannides believed he was providing a valuable service to his sponsor, the USA, which loathed Makarios and regarded him as an impediment to their plans for the island. Ioannides hoped that by doing the Americans a favour, Washington would restrain Turkey not only in Cyprus but also in the Aegean, where Turkey had begun to make threatening noises in November 1973.

3. The objective of the coup was partition
Yes and No.
It’s true that both the Georgios Papadopoulos (1967-73) and Dimitrios Ioannides (1973-74) juntas were reconciled to the partition of Cyprus, which when they weren’t calling it ‘double enosis’ were calling it ‘enosis with something in return’. Partition was also the ideal solution and strategic aim of the USA.

However, was partition Turkey’s objective on Cyprus? And was Ankara prepared to work first with the Papadopoulos’ and then the Ioannides’ regimes to bring about the division of Cyprus?

Here we are confronted with another myth, that Turkey’s aim was and continues to be the partitioning of Cyprus. Until August 1964, this was the case, but afterwards, it is not so. In August 1964, Turkey rejected partition as envisaged by the Acheson Plan (Greece had accepted the plan), because partition would not have solved its main strategic preoccupation, which was to prevent Greece extending its sovereignty to Cyprus. From this point on, Turkey altered its Cyprus policy in favour of the dissolution of the Republic of Cyprus and the creation of a federation of two autonomous states on the island [the ‘rulers in the north, partners in the south’ scenario] which would allow geostrategic control of Cyprus to pass to Turkey. Ioannides may have had the aim of partitioning Cyprus, but not Turkey. The form the Turkish invasion of Cyprus took and Turkey’s current Cyprus policy prove this beyond doubt.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Turkish Cypriot nationalism and its predication on violence

There’s a lengthy interview (here) from 1996 with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash (1924-2012), which is mostly worthless and embarrassingly conducted by some Greek Cypriot who instead of taking the opportunity to expose Denktash for the nationalist fanatic he was chooses to ask him questions such as ‘Who is the real Rauf Denktash?’ ‘How did you meet your wife?’ and ‘What are your hobbies?’ (I kid you not). Like a lot of Greek Cypriots, the interviewer just can’t get his head around the fact that the Turkish minority in Cyprus developed a political consciousness and will independent of Greek Cypriots; and that the Turks on the island were never prepared to passively accept Greek preponderance, or somehow be persuaded to become less Turkish.

Indeed, in the one or two interesting moments in the interview, Denktash paints an entirely different (and largely unknown to Greek Cypriots) picture of Turkish Cypriot political consciousness as it developed during British colonial rule. Denktash laughs at the often-repeated Greek Cypriot claim that in the enosis plebiscite of 1950, a majority of Turkish Cypriots voted for union with Greece and asserts that for Turkish Cypriots accepting Greek rule was tantamount to accepting colonisation.

Denktash states that just as Greek Cypriots ardently believed that Cyprus is Greek and belonged to Greece, the Turkish minority on the island held that Cyprus is Turkish and should be relinquished to Turkey. ‘We [the Turkish Cypriots],’ Denktash says, ‘were brought up to believe that Cyprus is Turkish and Cyprus has gone from Turkey temporarily and Turkey will come back’.

The axiom that Cyprus is Turkish was so deeply held by Turkish Cypriots, Denktash says, that he was disappointed by Turkey’s decision in 1956 to change its policy of demanding Britain cede to it the entire island in favour of a policy of partitioning Cyprus between Greece and Turkey. ‘Partition was chosen by Turkey as a policy’, Denktash says. ‘We [the Turkish Cypriots] were aggrieved here, because we felt Turkey was abandoning half of Cyprus to the Greeks.’

On the depth of militancy within the Turkish Cypriot community, Denktash reveals that seven years before Greeks took up arms in the campaign for enosis, Turkish Cypriots were prepared to use violence to thwart the political will of the Greek Cypriots, who constituted 80 percent of the island’s population. ‘In the event of enosis,’ Denktash recalls telling a Greek journalist in 1948, ‘we will take up guns and go to the mountains.’

I’m mentioning all this now because I’ve been reading Stella Soulioti’s excellent two-volume work – a must for all serious students of the Cyprus Question – Fettered Independence: Cyprus, 1878-1964, in which the author provides a remarkably detailed and coherent account of modern Cypriot political history, with particular emphasis on the various plans concocted by the British colonial authorities in the 1950s in response to Greek demands for enosis and Turkish insistence on partition; the machinations that led to the London-Zurich agreements in 1959; the period from independence in 1960 to the breakdown of the constitution and the insurrection of the Turkish Cypriots in 1963; and the increasing involvement in the island’s politics of the Americans, who wanted to avoid Cyprus sparking a war between Greece and Turkey, which the USA thought could best be done by partitioning Cyprus between the two NATO allies or offering all (or most) of Cyprus to Greece in exchange for Greek concessions in Thrace and/or the Aegean, such as the ceding of Chios or Kastelorizo to Turkey.

In upcoming posts, I will draw on Soulioti’s book to illustrate how the Turkish campaign for the partition of Cyprus was predicated on violence and stirring up enmity between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Unlike enosis – which was not directed at the Turkish minority on the island but at the British colonial authorities – taksim (partition) was specifically aimed at Greek Cypriots and could only be achieved through their violent expulsion from that part of Cyprus that Turkey proposed to annex.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Ergenekon has its roots in Cyprus

When Andreas Papandreou famously said in 1971 that ‘Cyprus lies at the heart of the tragic political developments that have led to the death of democracy in Greece’, he meant that it was the inability of Greece’s politicians to impose the Acheson plan on Cyprus – and the resistance of figures like Papandreou to such a plan – that helped convince the CIA to conspire with its Greek underlings to bring about a government in Athens less committed to Cypriot and Greek national interests and more committed to US/NATO interests, which demanded a diminishing of Greco-Turkish confrontation through the partitioning of Cyprus.

(Some would also argue that junta characters like Giorgos Papadopoulos and Dimitris Ioannides picked up clandestine para-state tips and attitudes through their involvement in Cyprus and were, for example, the sort of men in the Greek military in 1963, during intercommunal violence on the island, that certain Cypriots – like Nikos Sampson, Polykarpos Giorgadjis and Vassos Lyssarides – could go to when looking for weaponry and expertise when the official Greek state wasn’t prepared to provide them. The irony being that having derived their taste for conspiracy and political violence in Cyprus, Papadopoulos and Ioannides turned against the island when the survival of the junta became more important to them).

It can’t come as any surprise, therefore, that the Turkish ultranationalist deep-state organisation Ergenekon, members of which are currently on trial in Turkey for sedition, terrorism and so on, according to the Turkish media, and reported by Nikos Stelgias in the Cyprus edition of Kathimerini, also has its roots in Cyprus and, in particular, in the Turkish Cypriot terrorist gangs it helped organise, man and operate in the 1950s and 1960s.

According to Stelgias (my translation): ‘New testimony and information coming to light in the Turkish media reveals that the Ergenekon network was established in the 1950s in Cyprus and had as its basic goal the consolidation of the actions of Turkish Cypriot armed groups. 

‘On Tuesday, Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak, which maintains close ties with Turkish government circles, in its inside pages and under the headline “Ergenekon was set up in Cyprus”, writes that former naval officer Erol Mütercimler, accused of being part of the Ergenekon conspiracy, told investigators that Brigadier General Memduh Ünlütürk revealed to him that Ergenekon was established in Cyprus in the 1950s.

‘Mütercimler said that Ergenekon was established to “protect” the Turkish Cypriots and some of its formative members were the Cyprus-born Alparslan Turkes, the [notorious] founder of the far-right Nationalist Action Party; Turgut Sunalp, founder of the Nationalist Democracy Party; and many other members of the Turkish military.'

The involvement in Cyprus of some of Turkish politics’ most lurid figures is not new information – retired General Sabri Yirmimbesoglou, who served in Cyprus in the 1950s and 1960s in his country’s Special Warfare Department, confessed in 2010 to sabotage and the burning down of mosques to ‘stir up the Turkish Cypriots’ – but it is a reminder that the partitioning of Cyprus is rooted in an aggressive and expansionist Turkish national ideology that, unlike the nationalism or, more correctly, the pseudo-nationalism, of the Greek junta, continues to inform Turkey’s attitudes to its neighbours. Indeed, we note that the Ergenekon investigation in Turkey is not really interested in confronting Kemalist ultranationalism but anti-Islamist opponents of the AK party government. 

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Cyprus Still Divided

Above is Cyprus Still Divided, a pretty good documentary on the Cyprus issue and the role the USA – and particularly the odious Henry Kissinger – played in partitioning the island. The film was made by the American Hellenic Institute with the intention of educating a US audience and, as such, has been shown on NPR stations and at various ‘Town Hall screenings’. There’s good archive footage, mostly taken from Michalis Cacoyiannis’ film Attila 1974: The Rape of Cyprus, plus more recent interviews with Paul Sarbanes, John Brademas, Nicholas Burns, Christopher Hitchens, Titina Loizidou and others.

A couple of points on accuracy and interpretation.

1. The film states that the policy of the Athens junta 1967-74 was enosis. This is not true. The junta’s Cyprus policy was partition. This is well established now. Thus, despite dressing itself up as nationalist and patriotic, the junta’s policy for Cyprus was anything but; having been persuaded by its US supervisors that the best thing for the junta, Greco-Turkish relations, the West in its contest with communism and so on, was for Cyprus to be divided between Greece and Turkey. The tension that existed between the junta and Makarios – why they tried to assassinate him and eventually overthrew him in a coup – was because they regarded the archbishop as an obstacle not to enosis, which Makarios believed in, but to partition, which he, and 99% of Cypriots, did not.

2. The film states that the junta’s purpose in removing Makarios was to unite Cyprus with Greece. But, as I’ve already said, partition not enosis was the junta’s policy, in which case the purpose of the coup was the removal of Makarios and the setting up of a subordinate regime in Nicosia, permitting Athens to open negotiations with Turkey as to how best to partition the island, along the lines of the Acheson plan. Thus, even though junta-leader Dimitrios Ioannides was stupid and a psychopath, he would not have acted against Makarios if he thought the Turks would invade. All Ioannides’ actions in July 1974 suggest he was under the impression – provided to him by the Americans – that Turkey accepted Athens’ plan to get rid of Makarios in order to expedite partition.

3. When talking about the coup against Makarios, the film shows images of Colonel Giorgos Papadopoulos, even though he had been ousted by Brigadier Dimitrios Ioannides as junta leader in November 1973 and it was Ioannides, not Papadopoulos, who initiated the coup against Makarios.

Indeed, one of Makarios’ biggest miscalculations was not to have realised that the junta under Ioannides was far more dangerous to Cyprus than it had been under Papadopoulos. Makarios always believed that, despite the constant rumours, the Papadopoulos-led junta would not be so stupid as to initiate a coup against him. Makarios mistakenly assumed that this basic level of intelligence was shared by Ioannides and his cohorts.

4. Finally, Christopher Hitchens makes his usual incisive interventions in the film; and I want to dwell on his statement that Cyprus paid the price for the fall of the junta. This is entirely accurate and, indeed, it always annoys me the way (mainland) Greeks insist they brought down the junta – and that central to this was the student uprising at the Athens Polytechnic in November 1973. All the student protest achieved was convince hard-liners, like Ioannides, that Papadopoulos wasn’t tough enough and that Greece needed a firmer hand. It didn’t shorten the time of the junta by five minutes.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Cyprus crisis: conspiracies, cock-ups and political agendas

Manthos pointed me in the direction of the talk above by Andreas Constandinos on the junta’s coup against Makarios and the subsequent Turkish invasion of Cyprus. The talk emerges from Constandinos’ PhD thesis, published in book form as America, Britain and the Cyprus Crisis of 1974: Calculated Conspiracy or Foreign Policy Failure? which seeks to disprove the so-called conspiracy theories that predominate in the discourse on the events of 1974 – i.e. that America and the UK conspired with Turkey and Greece to bring about the downfall of the Republic of Cyprus as a prelude to partition of the island; and instead assert the cock-up theory – i.e. that the US and UK were largely caught unaware by the coup and the invasion and responded as they did not out of malice or careful calculation but because they failed to read Greek and Turkish intentions correctly. All in all, Constandinos says that, as far as the US and UK were concerned, the coup and invasion were far from a conspiracy to destroy the Republic of Cyprus but rather a foreign policy failure.

Constandinos’ thesis is flawed and implausible. In fact, it’s so flawed and implausible that it’s reasonable to conclude that he’s pushing a dubious political agenda. I’ll just make a few points, mostly about his attempts to exonerate the US from blame in the coup and invasion. I won’t go into his equally dubious effort to whitewash the UK’s role in the partition of Cyprus.

1. There is no Cyprus conspiracy theory in the way Constandinos thinks there is. Christopher Hitchens, who Constandinos accuses of being one of the main exponents of the conspiracy theory, prefers in his book Cyprus: Hostage to History to use the word  ‘collusion’ and not ‘conspiracy’. At no point does Hitchens argue that Kissinger or the British gave explicit instructions to the Greeks to overthrow Makarios or to the Turks to invade the island. Rather, Hitchens, as well as insisting on ‘collusion’, characterises US and UK policy as ‘careless’, ‘arrogant’, ‘cynical’ and infused with ‘imperial caprice’.

2. Asserting as Constandinos does that Kissinger was unaware of Greece’s coup plot and Turkey’s determination to invade is naively generous to the US secretary of state. The fact is that it was an open secret that Greece, for years, going back to 1964, had been considering a coup against Makarios and that Ioannides was more committed than his predecessors to bringing this plan to fruition. It was just as much an open secret that Turkey was itching to invade Cyprus and had nearly done so in 1964 and 1967, only stopping, not as Constandinos says – in another attempt to exonerate the US in Cyprus – because of pressure from Washington, but because the Turkish armed forces were not ready to launch such a major operation. It’s worth pointing out that in 1964, some American officials were actually urging the Turks to invade and assuring them that they would not face US censure. (See here for discussion of the Acheson plans and the US encouraging Turkey to invade Cyprus).

3. Despite the well-known role of the US and UK in the 1960s in destabilising the Republic of Cyprus in an effort to bring closer the implementation of the Acheson Plan, i.e. the partition of Cyprus, giving one part of the island to Greece and the other to Turkey, thus securing the whole for Nato and reconciling Greece and Turkey, Constandinos insists that with the Nixon administration this paranoid cold war mentality dissipated and that America and Cyprus had developed a modus vivendi – as exemplified by Makarios acquiescing in America’s use of the UK bases on the island for its U-2 missions in the Middle East. The earlier plans for a coup, invasion and partition had, according to Constandinos, apparently been forgotten by the Americans, by Kissinger et al.

This is not credible. There is no evidence that from 1968 the Americans were now favourably disposed to Makarios or that they had ceased to regard an independent and essentially non-aligned Cyprus, with its large and slavishly pro-Moscow communist party, which routinely opposed the presence of British and US military bases and listening posts on Cyprus, as a continuing threat to Western security interests. Nor would any supposed US rapprochement with Makarios have deflected the Americans from their more substantial interest of mollifying Turkey and Greece. In the case of Greece, this mollification involved  preserving the Greek junta in power and to this end, since Makarios was an affront to the junta, the Americans were more than happy to go along with Athens’ plans to do away with the ‘red priest’. It’s also worth stressing that EOKA B, the paramilitary group established on Cyprus in 1971 to further the junta’s goals on the island, was supported not just by Athens, as Constandinos says, but by the CIA.

4. We also know that the Americans viewed the coup against Makarios with sympathy not only because they did not see fit to condemn it but, in fact, the US began the process of recognising the new government and state of affairs created in Cyprus by Ioannides. It matters little whether Kissinger gave direct orders for the removal of Makarios – Constandinos’ anti-conspiracy theory heavily relies on his failure to find documents in the US archives that show Kissinger giving such orders; because we prefer to judge Kissinger and America’s role in the 1974 events not by what was said but by what was done – and whether what was done was in line with long-standing and known US policy, which it was, i.e. all American efforts in 1974 paved the way for the coup, the invasion and partition – and as such were the culmination of a policy initiated by the US State Department (with the support of the British) in 1964. Thus, we can say with certainty that despite knowing that the junta was in the final stages of plotting to oust Makarios, the US did not urge them to abandon their plans – which they would have done if, as Constandinos says, the Nixon administration was well disposed to Makarios. We also know that the coup having failed, with Makarios alive and able to claim to be the legitimate Cypriot head of state, the Americans, still determined to see through the dissolution of the Republic of Cyprus, decided to back Turkey, implicitly and explicitly, in its ambition to partition the island. So even though Constandinos wants us to believe that the Americans were caught unaware by the Turkish invasion, thought the threat of invasion was only a bluff, we know not only that US efforts to dissuade the Turks from invading were, at best, half-hearted, but that at the Geneva talks that followed the first invasion on 20 July, Kissinger spoke openly about Turkey’s legitimate interest in ‘protecting’ the Turkish Cypriots who, Kissinger helpfully added, deserved more ‘autonomy’. As such, the US did not condemn the second Turkish invasion on 14 August and, in fact, expended most of its diplomatic energy during this period urging Greece not to respond to Turkey’s advances on the island.

What then are we to make of an analysis like Constandinos’ that seeks to exonerate the US and UK from the events of 1974 and his efforts to heap all the responsibility for the tragedy onto the Greek junta – which he portrays as acting on its own or, Constandinos does concede (without, for some reason, it affecting for him his overall thesis), in collaboration with trusted Greek-American CIA agents? What we make of such an analysis is that it is part of a trend in certain British academic circles that busy themselves with Cyprus to portray Britain, in particular, as having a benign or neutral role in Cyprus, show America as a blundering imperial power manqué and trace all Cyprus’ woes to Greece, Greeks and Greek nationalism.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Papandreou’s plan to overthrow Makarios

Below is another translated extract from Marios Evriviades’article  (‘Plans for betrayal from 1964’) that argues that the Ioannides coup against Makarios in 1974 was nothing more than the implementation of a Greek policy aimed at partitioning Cyprus with Turkey that had been dreamed up 10 years previously.

In fact, it is striking that the nature of the coup planned by Giorgos Papandreou in 1964 – overthrow Makarios, declare enosis, then open negotiations with the Turks on which part of Cyprus to give them – was precisely what Ioannides had in mind in 1974. It was a stupid idea in 1964 – which is presumably why Papandreou was persuaded to abandon it – and it was an even stupider idea in 1974, the predictable consequences of which were the Turkish invasion and partition of Cyprus not on Greece’s terms but on Turkey’s.

Plans for betrayal from 1964 
In August 1964, with the knowledge of the Americans and, previously, with American encouragement (in February 1964, US Assistant Secretary of State George Ball, was the main protagonist), the government  of Giorgos Papandreou drew up a plan for a coup in Cyprus and informed President Johnsons special Cyprus representative, Dean Acheson, in Geneva of their proposal.

In Geneva, while on the surface the talks taking place between Greece and Turkey on the future of Cyprus were under UN auspices, in practice it was Acheson who was running the show, with his plan or, more correctly, plans for the division of Cyprus. There were many Acheson plans (just as there were many Annan plans), and the Turks accepted only the first one, which would have secured them sovereignty over 30% of Cyprus and the Greek island of Kastelorizo.

From the Greek side, Papandreou accepted the proposal for a leased Turkish base on the island comprising 99 square miles and informed Acheson of this in Geneva in writing on 22 August. Nowhere does there exist a corresponding Turkish letter as to whether Turkey accepted this proposal, but there is a Turkish letter to Acheson dated 28 August, according to which Turkey rejected Achesons efforts at mediation because there was no longer on the table an offer that secured Turkey sovereignty over a part of Cyprus. 

Earlier, on 23 August, Giorgos Papandreou gave an order by telephone to Greeces negotiators in Geneva, Sosiades and Nikolareizis, to inform Acheson that Greece could overthrow Makarios within a week, after which ‘immediate enosis would be declared and then negotiations would start with the Turks on the basis of the Acheson plan, which would result in Greece providing Turkey with a base area in Cyprus, in the Cape Greco region [south of Famagusta] rather than in the Karpas peninsula, and the granting of minority rights to the Turkish Cypriots. Acheson told Sosiades and Nikolareizis that Washington agreed with the proposed coup against Makarios.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Why did Greece want to overthrow Makarios?

I was reading a very interesting article on the infognomonpolitics blog, written by Marios Evriviades and which originally appeared in the Cypriot daily, Phileleftheros.

Evriviades argues that the 15 July 1974 coup against Makarios was not necessarily a hastily concocted putsch by the junta, but the culmination of 10-years of Greek state policy.

Greece, during this period, Evriviades says, was determined to come to an agreement with Turkey on the partition of Cyprus and was prepared to contemplate the forced removal of Cyprus’ president, Makarios, and the dissolution of the Republic of Cyprus, in order to accelerate its aims.

I’ve translated below the first part of Evriviades’ article, which suggests that even if the goal of removing Makarios remained the same, the reasons for Athens wanting it done in 1964, under the premiership of Giorgos Papandreou, were different to those that motivated Dimitris Ioannides, the head of the junta, in 1974.

Just to add that the more I find out about Greece’s official policy towards Cyprus in the years leading up the coup and Turkish invasion, the more I am struck by the breathtaking incompetence and stupidity of Greece's policy makers, and this applies to those associated with the junta and those who ran Greece before the colonels seized power. In fact, one of the reasons the story of Greece’s betrayal of Cyprus remains of interest, is because this same incompetence and stupidity continued in Greece after 1974 and is responsible for the sweeping crisis affecting the country right now.

I’ll try and post further translation of Evriviades’ piece later this week.

Plans for betrayal from 1964
The betrayal of 15 July 1974 was the culmination of 10-years of scheming by Greece. However, the reasons for the scheming during this period change. In 1964, when the scheming starts, the aim and target of the coupists was the overthrow of the Makarios government and the dissolution of the Cypriot state, with the rationale of preventing Cyprus from becoming another Cuba, of becoming communist. In 1974, the aim of the coupists was more simple. It was the survival of the regime in Athens. Junta leader Dimitris Ioannides and the rest of his gang organised the coup in order to buy time from their transatlantic patrons and to appease the Turks and prime minister Bulent Ecevit, who were threatening Greece in the Aegean.

By overthrowing Makarios – the ‘devil-priest’, the red-priest, the anti-Greek – the junta believed it was providing a service to Washington and Ankara, who would be duly grateful. Ioannides believed the Americans would press Turkey to react to the coup with moderation since it was Athens intention, with Makarios out of the way, to sit down with the Turks and ‘close the Cyprus problem, which Greece and Turkey had been discussing intermittently from 1964, on the basis of the US-inspired Acheson plan, which envisaged partition of the island.

A second motive the Ioannides’ junta had for wanting to be rid of Makarios was that in doing so it would end the threat posed to the Athens regime by the democracy that existed in Cyprus. In the paranoid world of the Athens junta, Cyprus was a haven for dissidents conspiring against the regime ruling Greece; dissidents,
particularly those made up of former officers from the Greek armed forces, who, the junta believed, were being aided and abetted by Makarios.

For more of this article, go here.

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.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

The Acheson plan for the partition of Cyprus

The Acheson plan devised by the Americans (and the British) for the partition of Cyprus was presented in the first half of 1964 following the intercommunal fighting that had broken out on the island in December 1963. It proposed union of Cyprus with Greece, on the conditions, inter alia, that Karpasia (and Kastellorizo) would be ceded to Turkey; that semi-independent Turkish zones would be established throughout the island; and foreign commissioners would be appointed to safeguard the pervasive rights to be granted the Turkish Cypriots in the Greek part of the island.

The plan not only strictly curtailed Greek sovereignty over the island – by handing over a large part to Turkey; by granting Turkish Cypriots administrative rights that amounted to the creation of micro states within a state: and by allowing Britain to retain the three percent of the island that it held as sovereign territory – but was also so cumbersome and dysfunctional that it was hard to imagine how it would have survived any serious strain, with the result being conflict and a much cleaner form of partition – as imposed by Turkey in 1974.

The Acheson plan was rejected by Cyprus and Greece, while Turkey, though not expressing outright rejection, did not endorse it either. A second, even more perfunctory, plan was subsequently presented by Acheson, but this was not seriously pushed by the Americans, particularly as Turkey let it be known early on that it found Acheson 2 unacceptable. The details of both plans are presented below. Both have a back-of-the-envelope feel about them. What is significant about them is not necessarily the intricacies of what they propose; but that the US had decided by 1964 that the optimum solution for Cyprus was some form of partition and that this is what it would work towards from now on.

Acheson Plan 1
In return for Turkish agreement to the union of Cyprus with Greece, Greece would make certain concessions to Turkey along the lines suggested below:

1. To give Turkey assurance that its security would not be threatened from Cyprus or from the direction of Cyprus, Greece would cede to Turkey a portion of the island in perpetuity, that is in full sovereignty.

A. This area would be used by Turkey as a military base with full rights to deploy ground, air and naval forces therein. The military purpose of this base would be to deny the island to hostile forces as a base of operations against Turkey and to keep open the approaches to the ports of Mersin and Iskenderun.

B. The area should be fairly substantial in size, large enough both to permit the building of facilities and the conduct of training manoeuvres and operations.

C. It seemed that a logical location for the base area might be the Karpas Peninsula because it was detached from the main body of the island and was ideally situated to cover the approaches to the Turkish ports. Different boundary lines for a base on the peninsula were discussed at different times; one, which appeared to be the minimum acceptable to the Turkish government, ran from Peristeria on the north coast to a point just south-west of Boghaz on the southeast coast. (The Turks agreed that the Monastery of Apostolos Andreas, near the tip of the peninsula, could be excluded from the base area).

2. Special arrangements should be made for the protection and welfare of those Turkish Cypriots who would not be included within the area of the Turkish sovereign base. (This, of course, means the vast majority of the Turkish Cypriot population). These were outlined as follows:

A. There might be one, two or three relatively small areas of the island in which Turkish Cypriots would be in the majority or very nearly so and which could be treated as separate geographical units for administrative purposes within the general governmental structure of the whole island. The Turkish quarter of Nicosia and the area stretching north of it to the Kyrenia Range was a de facto example of such an area. These administrative sub-divisions could have a special local administration of their own, directed and implemented on the ground by Turkish Cypriots. The function of these local administrations… might include such things as the collection of taxes, the expenditure of local revenues for local purposes (schools, mosques, local water supply and local roads), the direction of local police forces and the general administration of justice insofar as it applied to Turkish Cypriots, and possible other attributes of municipal and provincial governments elsewhere…

B. In all the rest of the island, where Turkish Cypriots would necessarily continue to be a relatively small minority of the population, a different arrangement could be made. There might be a central Turkish Cypriot administration established in Nicosia, which would control, for Turkish Cypriots only, many of the same activities and functions that would be undertaken by the local authorities in the separate small geographic units mentioned above. This could be done by demarcating the Turkish quarters of the major towns and identifying the scattered villages that are all-Turkish or have a clear Turkish majority. These would then be considered as under the authority of the central Turkish organisation in Nicosia, which would supervise the election or appointment of local leaders, the selection and administration of police and other normal municipal functions and could provide a system of lower courts for the handling of personal status cases, civil suits between Turks, criminal trials involving only Turks and similar matters of purely Turkish Cypriot concern…

C. The Turkish Cypriots would necessarily have to be citizens of whatever central authority was in control of the island. Subject to the privileges and responsibilities of this citizenship, they could have the local and personal rights and privileges indicated in the preceding two paragraphs. It goes without saying that they would be guaranteed all normal human and minority rights, of which those provided in the Treaty of Lausanne are good examples.

D. As a special safeguard in addition… there should be an international commissioner or commission, perhaps appointed by the UN or the International Court of Justice, who or which could be physically present on the island and charged with watching over the observations of the special status and rights of the Turkish Cypriots. Precedents for this exist in the cases of Danzig and the Soar during the period between the world wars, and the US government considers that this experiment worked well until the advent of Hitler to power in Germany upset all established arrangements. The commissioner or the commission would be empowered to hear complaints, investigate them and make recommendations to the appropriate authorities for correction of injustices. It is conceivable that he might be empowered to order correction and or compensation subject to appeal by the party opposed. If his recommendations or decisions were not accepted by one party or the other, there would be a right of appeal either to the International Court of Justice at the Hague or to some other judicial body which might be specially established under the authority of the UN. An alternative the parties might wish to consider would be for the commissioner and the court to be appointed by NATO, with the NATO members assuming responsibility for enforcement of their decisions.

E. The island of Kastellorizo to be ceded to Turkey.

Acheson Plan 2
1. The Turkish base area simply be leased to Turkey for an agreed period of years – 50 was suggested as reasonable – instead of being ceded as sovereign Turkish territory.

2. The boundary of the base area on the Karpas peninsula would be a line drawn north and south just west of the village of Komi Kebir (thus reducing the area considerably). Alternatively… the line could be drawn on the basis of military considerations after study by the Supreme Allied Commander for Europe.

3. The special provisions and guarantees for the Turkish Cypriots would be modified from those in Acheson Plan 1 to eliminate the special areas containing a Turkish Cypriot majority which would have been treated under the first plan as moderate administrative units. Instead, it is suggested that at least two of the eparchies into which Cyprus might be divided under Greek rule would always be headed by Turkish Cypriot eparchs. These eparchies would always be those containing a substantial Turkish Cypriot population. In the eparchies containing such a substantial Turkish Cypriot population, the administrative staffs and police would always contain a substantial proportion of Turkish Cypriot officials and employees.

4. Instead of the central Turkish Cypriot administration in Nicosia which was proposed in Acheson Plan 1, there would be a high official in the central government of Cyprus, under the chief Greek administrator, who would be provided with a staff and would be charged with looking after the rights and welfare of all Turkish Cypriots. This official would advise and assist Turkish Cypriots, receive and investigate complaints about discriminatory treatment or failure to give guaranteed rights, and could appeal to the courts or central government of Greece in case of need.

5. The special guarantees or minority rights envisaged in the first plan, such as those provided by the Treaty of Lausanne and the European Convention on Human Rights, would be retained. Similarly, the proposed International Commissioner appointed by the UN would be part of the second plan as of the first.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Coups, kings and apostates

'Cyprus lies at heart of the tragic political developments that have led to the death of democracy in Greece.' (Andreas Papandreou)

Hopefully, by now, we all understand how certain Greek politicians and military leaders for the sake of their own careers, enslaved by their own petty paranoias and even pettier visions of what Greece should be, sacrificed Cyprus, like Iphigenia at Aulis.

They did this by seeking to impose partition on Cyprus, which was not in the national interests of Greece or Hellenism, but would have satisfied Turkey, Britain and America – America having devised, through the Acheson plan, the details of how this partition would come about.

Because Cypriots were naturally horrified by the prospect of their country being partitioned, American foreign policy looked to 'friendly circles' in Greece to persuade the Cypriots, one way or the other, to accept the dismemberment of the island.

It is at this point that this article by Victor Netas takes up the story and relates it to the palace coup that overthrew the Centre Union government of prime minister Giorgios Papandreou on 15 July 1965 and set in motion the events that led to the junta seizing power in 1967 and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974.

Netas claims that the constitutional coup that overthrew the Centre Union government is directly linked to a visit to Washington Papandreou made in June 1964 and his refusal to succumb to the pressure exerted on him by US President Lyndon Johnson to accept the Acheson plan, which not only envisaged the partitioning of Cyprus between Greece and Turkey but also the ceding of Kastellorizo to Turkey.

Coming out of his ill-tempered meeting with Johnson, Papandreou confided to colleagues: 'We're finished. Great powers don't forgive such things.'

After Papandreou left America, Johnson called in Greece's ambassador to Washington, Alexandros Matsas, and insisted that Greece accept the Acheson plan. Matsas said that 'no Greek parliament would ever accept such a plan' and that 'the Greek constitution does not permit for any Greek government to hand over a Greek island'.

Then came the following exchange:

Johnson: Then listen to me, Mr Ambassador. Fuck your parliament and fuck your constitution. America is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. And Greece is a flea. If these two fleas continue itching the elephant, they may just get whacked by the elephant's trunk, whacked good…

Matsas: I'll pass on your views to the prime minister, but I'm certain of what Greece's response will be. Greece is a democracy, and the prime minister cannot override parliament's wishes.

Johnson: I'll tell you what response I'll give if I get back such a reply from your prime minister. Who does he think he is? I can't have a second De Gaulle on my plate. We pay a lot of good American dollars to the Greeks, Mr. Ambassador. If your prime minister gives me talk about democracy, parliament and constitutions, he, his parliament and his constitution may not last very long.

Netas says that President Johnson's threats and Giorgios Papandreou's fear that he would be overthrown were realised when, the following year, the palace, with the support of Centre Union defectors [the so-called 'apostates' – see my post on the role of the leading 'apostate' Konstantinos Mitsotakis], dismissed his government and installed a pro-palace administration, which would also be more deferential to American demands.

Netas goes on to suggest that America, at this time, far from acting as a restraining influence on Turkey – as Christopher Hitchens suggests America was doing, in his book, Cyprus: Hostage to History – was in fact actively encouraging the Turks to invade Cyprus to impose partition and that what was really stopping Turkey was its military unpreparedness.

Netas quotes Nihat Erim, in charge of Turkey's Cyprus policy since the 1950s, who writes in his book, Cyprus, that on 8 February 1964: 'The American journalist Lawrence Moore… visited my home and left me a book on Cyprus and a letter, in which he suggested that it is only fair and just that a Turkish Cypriot state should be created in Cyprus… [while on] 22 February 1964 I left for New York [to take part in the UN debate on Cyprus]. The Security Council's Resolution of 4 March was a victory for Turkey. At the same time, it became known at the UN that the Turkish government had decided to invade Cyprus if Makarios did not comply [with the UNSC resolution]. On 11 March, [Turkey's prime minister] Ismet Inonu called me in, and asked for my impressions from America. I told him: 'America is on our side, but doesn't wish to see a war with Greece. America is thinking of NATO. But America is open to persuasion'… Inonu replied: 'We are not in a position to send our army to Cyprus. We discuss it with our generals three times a day.'

Netas goes on to suggest that during the period of the 'apostasy' that brought down Papandreou, 'many strange things occurred', and refers to an article in the Turkish daily Milliyet on 27 January 1976 – Some confidential recollections on Turkish-Greek relations – in which Suat Hayri Urguplu, who served as Turkey's ambassador to Washington and his country's prime minister in 1965, claims that senior Greek officials, to the astonishment of the Turkish government, had suggested that the two countries 'settle their differences like Ataturk and Venizelos. The Greeks offered us 2-3 nearby islands and suggested that the Ecumenical Patriarchy and Halki Theological School, which have remained in Turkey without meaning and wound our national sensitivities, be transferred to Greece.'

Netas wonders who exactly made the offer to Turkey. It couldn't have come from the Papandreou government, and must have been made, he suggests, by 'apostate' circles who formed the pro-American administration installed with the collusion of the palace.

NOTE: Netas doesn't make clear what these 'senior Greek officials' were asking in return for the ceding of 2-3 Greek islands and the transfer of the patriarchate; presumably, for such significant 'concessions', the union of all of Cyprus with Greece.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

'Alexander has been admitted to hospital'

Below is the article I posted last 15 July on the anniversary of the 1974 coup against President Makarios, which resulted in the barbaric Turkish invasion of Cyprus and the island's de facto partition. I don't have much to add to my initial description of the events that fateful Monday; except to refer to a point that arises from Dinos Avgoustis' article – Αλέξανδρος εισήλθε εις νοσοκομείο (Alexander has been admitted to hospital) – which appeared in yesterday's Simerini. ('Alexander has been admitted to hospital' was the chilling signal given by the junta's henchman-in-chief on Cyprus, Brigadier Michalis Georgitsis, to begin the coup against Makarios).

Avgoustis reminds us that Makarios, in the run-up to the coup, despite all the information reaching him that junta leader Dimitris Ioannides had decided to overthrow the legitimate government of Cyprus, refused to believe that the junta would be so stupid, reckless and unpatriotic to try such a move, knowing, as it surely must have known, that it was bound to provide Turkey with the pretext it had been looking for to invade the island. 'There are no madmen in the Greek military,' Makarios is reported to have confidently said. 'Not even Ioannides.'

But Makarios was wrong, catastrophically wrong. There were madmen in the Greek military, whose patriotism was subordinated to their own instinct for survival and to those foreign interests they had become dependent on. In hindsight, it is clear that Makarios should never have risked open conflict with the junta by sending such a provocative letter. The junta's days were numbered and a smarter option would have been to be patient and let it die a natural death and not give it the opportunity to take Cyprus down to hell with it.

The coup against Makarios
In the above clip from Michalis Cacoyiannis' definitive film Attila '74: The Rape of Cyprus (see right, in menu bar, to watch film in its entirety), the events leading up to the Greek junta's coup against President Makarios on 15 July, 1974 are described, particularly the letter Makarios sent to the Athens government complaining about the activities on the island of the National Guard, led by Greek officers loyal to the junta, and the gangster EOKA B outfit – established by Grivas in 1971, at the instigation and with the support of the junta and the CIA – whose raison d'être was the overthrow of the democratically elected Cypriot government.

The junta's response to Makarios' letter of 2 July was the coup. The coup's main objective was the murder of Makarios and the installation of a regime that would implement the long-established US-inspired Acheson plan to partition Cyprus between Greece and Turkey, who would then turn the island into an anti-communist NATO protectorate.

Of course, what happened was that Makarios survived the coup, Greek Cypriots resisted the junta and the Americans double-crossed their lackeys in Athens, having reassured them initially that any coup against Makarios would not be countered by an invasion from the Turks – who, the junta was led to believe by the Americans, understood that the coup was an internal Greek matter and were content that the junta would soon satisfy their demands for some form of partition of Cyprus, with maybe Kastelorizo thrown in for good measure.

The junta, having failed to deliver its end of the bargain to the Americans – i.e. Makarios' head and a Cypriot puppet leader with some legitimacy on the island and internationally (someone like Glafkos Clerides and not the man the junta eventually plumped for, the notorious EOKA B gangster Nikos Sampson, who the Americans, nevertheless, began the process of recognising as Cyprus' legitimate head of state) – quickly found itself abandoned by its Washington sponsors, who turned to backing the Turkish horse; the Turks having found themselves quite unexpectedly in a position to impose partition on Cyprus on their own terms.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

The roots of Greece's betrayal of Cyprus are deep

The Greek daily Ta Nea reported today that it had unearthed classified American documents describing conversations that took place in Athens in June 1965 between an unnamed senior US diplomat and Konstantinos Mitsotakis regarding the political crisis affecting Greece at the time – which eventually led to the colonels' coup in April 1967 – and the situation in Cyprus.

Mitsotakis was then minister of economy in Giorgos Papandreou's Centre Union government, a government he eventually helped to bring down. Post-1974, Mitsotakis continued to play a prominent role in Greek politics, serving as prime minister from 1990 to 1993 and since then as honorary president of the New Democracy party.

In relation to Cyprus, the documents reveal that Mitsotakis told the US diplomat he strongly favoured the Acheson plan, the US plan that aimed to partition Cyprus between Greece and Turkey, and he suggested two things: 1. That the Greek government was predisposed to the plan and that it was only Andreas Papandreou and the influence he had with his father, the then prime minister, Giorgos Papandreou, which was preventing the Greek government from endorsing it; 2. That to overcome the resistance to the plan being expressed by Cyprus' president, Archbishop Makarios, a coup should be organised to overthrow him and the plan imposed on Cyprus by force of arms, presumably Greek and Turkish militaries acting together.

The information regarding Mitsotakis, the Acheson plan and Cyprus is useful for a number of reasons, including: 1. It reveals that the junta's coup against Makarios in July 1974 did not emerge out of thin air, but was the culmination of plots against Cyprus that had been around in Greek political circles for years, i.e the betrayal of Cyprus cannot be laid solely at the door of the junta but at the entire Greek political class, which put foreign interests above those of Greece; 2. The political class that existed in Greece in 1965 is the same one that exists in Greece today, and its thinking is the same: sacrifice Greek national interests for the sake of wider NATO/EU/Western interests and in the name of Greco-Turkish friendship.

Speaking of Greco-Turkish friendship and proving my point about the survival of Greece's 1965 political class, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the following comments made earlier this week to the Greek parliament's select committee on foreign affairs by Greece's foreign minister, Dora Bakoyianni – who is, of course, Mitsotakis' daughter.

According to this article in Cypriot daily Simerini, Bakoyianni told her fellow MPs that: 'We have seen no evidence so far that the Davutoglou dogma [shaped by Turkey's current foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu] that espouses Turkey having no problems with its neighbours is being applied to Greece.'

Despite Bakoyianni admitting that Turkey has shown no intention of ending its aggression towards Greece, she insisted that Greece continued to believe in a policy of Greek-Turkish friendship, which according to her is: 'a rational and well-considered choice, based on the fact that Greece and Turkey have to coexist harmoniously. We mustn't stop talking. Conflict hurts Greece first and foremost. Greece and Turkey won't all of a sudden become best friends, but we must build together through trust, and learning from history, a peaceful future, avoiding the mistakes of the past.'

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

The coup against Makarios

In the above clip from Michalis Cacoyiannis' definitive film Attila '74: The Rape of Cyprus (see right, in menu bar, to watch film in its entirety), the events leading up to the Greek junta's coup against President Makarios on 15 July, 1974 are described, particularly the letter Makarios sent to the Athens government complaining about the activities on the island of the National Guard, led by Greek officers loyal to the junta, and the gangster EOKA B outfit – established by Grivas in 1971, at the instigation and with the support of the junta and the CIA – whose raison d'être was the overthrow of the democratically elected Cypriot government.

The junta's response to Makarios' letter of 2 July was the coup. The coup's main objective was the murder of Makarios and the installation of a regime that would implement the long-established US-inspired Acheson plan to partition Cyprus between Greece and Turkey, who would then turn the island into an anti-communist NATO protectorate.

Of course, what happened was that Makarios survived the coup, Greek Cypriots resisted the junta and the Americans double-crossed their lackeys in Athens, having reassured them initially that any coup against Makarios would not be countered by an invasion from the Turks – who, the junta was led to believe by the Americans, understood that the coup was an internal Greek matter and were content that the junta would soon satisfy their demands for some form of partition of Cyprus, with maybe Kastelorizo thrown in for good measure.

The junta, having failed to deliver its end of the bargain to the Americans – i.e. Makarios' head and a Cypriot puppet leader with some legitimacy on the island and internationally (someone like Glafkos Clerides and not the man the junta eventually plumped for, the notorious EOKA B gangster Nikos Sampson, who the Americans, nevertheless, began the process of recognising as Cyprus' legitimate head of state) – quickly found itself abandoned by its Washington sponsors, who turned to backing the Turkish horse; the Turks having found themselves quite unexpectedly in a position to impose partition on Cyprus on their own terms.