Friday, 26 May 2017

Political Activities of Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots, 1945-58. Part Two: The policy of partition

Below is the second part of the series of posts I’m publishing from Stella Soulioti’s Fettered Independence: Cyprus, 1878-1964, demonstrating how Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots developed a policy of partition regarding Cyprus and organised a campaign of violent ethnic conflict in pursuit of this objective. Partition was a revision of Turkey’s previous policy, which was that should Britain relinquish sovereignty over Cyprus, then Turkey should be allowed to annex the entire island.

(Read part one in the series here). 

Turkish Political Objective of Partition Formulated
By 1957 the Turks had formulated their political objective clearly: the partition of Cyprus, which they set out to achieve by:

    •    establishing a separate identity for the Turkish Cypriots;
    •    demonstrating that coexistence between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots was impossible, and that they must therefore be physically separated; and
    •    creating territorial division between the two communities which were interspersed throughout the island.

The above goals have persisted as the cornerstone of Turkish and Turkish Cypriot policy over the years.

The arm used to apply the policy was [the terrorist group] TMT, under the slogan ‘Partition or Death.’ The partition line was set at the 35th Parallel, dividing Cyprus roughly in half. Posters, showing the island partitioned, with the superimposed figure of a Turkish soldier, were displayed everywhere.

A booklet entitled The Cyprus Question – A Permanent Solution, issued in October 1957 by [Fazil] Kutchuk, then chairman of the Cyprus-is-Turkish Party, spells out the Turkish policy in unequivocal terms. The cover of the booklet shows Cyprus partitioned in half. The following excerpts are revealing;

Equal rights is what we want and equal rights mean nothing but partition.

Turkey has, in fairness and magnanimity, consented to Partition for the sake of permanent peace in the area. Thus, the two countries [Greece and Turkey] which are friendly frontier-neighbours will extend their frontiers across Cyprus and the Communist foothold in the island will thus be prevented and the Turkish foothold will safeguard the breathing space for Turkey and her allies in the event of war.

Such partitioning will not involve the compulsory exchange of populations. Each man will be able to live in his own place feeling assured that his country is next door to protect his rights and interests. Two responsible governments will keep the extremists in their group under constant control.

Turkey has, in fairness and in complete recognition of her duty to maintain peace in the area and good relations with her neighbours, decided to abandon her claim to the whole of Cyprus and accepted the solution of partition as a fair basis for settlement.

She [Greece] has got no case on Cyprus and… unless she consents to partition Turkey will have the right to move into the island the moment Britain withdraws.

By the end of December 1956, Turkey, being aware that Britain had begun to consider partition as a possible solution, demanded partition at every opportunity. Kutchuk, who visited Ankara (2 April-10 May 1957) to consult with the Turkish government, said in a press statement on 3 April 1957 that enmity between the two communities in Cyprus had reached such a pitch that they could not possibly coexist under the same regime, and the only acceptable solution, therefore, was partition. On 3 February 1958, on his return to Nicosia from another visit to Ankara, Kutchuk said that taksim [partition] was ‘One thousand percent certain’, and that ‘if our own force in Cyprus proves inadequate, our fatherland is ready to come to our aid’.

On 8 June 1958, the Turkish foreign ministry issued a statement that the Turkish government had come to a ‘full and mature decision to bring about the partition of Cyprus’ as the only means of ensuring Turkey’s own security. On the same day, there was a big demonstration in Istanbul in support of taksim, with speeches against Greece and Britain and the burning of an effigy of Archbishop Makarios. The speakers included Kutchuk, who stressed the impossibility of Greek and Turkish Cypriots living together and claimed the question was no longer one for the Turkish Cypriots but ‘for 26 million Turks’. Kutchuk kept up the pressure for partition, along the 35th parallel.

(Read parts three and four in series).

Read the entire series in one post here.