Cyprus 1974 – American involvement?

I have always maintained, simply by looking at how the events of July 1974 in Cyprus unfolded, that the Greek mainland-backed coup against President Makarios, the subsequent Turkish invasion of the north and division of the island ever since was all part of a NATO plot. This, in effect, means orchestrated by the United States of America which, thru NATO, effectively controls the military in members of that alliance.

I was visiting a Greek-Cypriot cousin yesterday and over dinner there was some discussion of the events of 1974, in particular the Nicos Sampson coup against President Makarios apparently orchestrated from Athens, then in the hands of a rightwing military junta.

My cousin said she had read or seen on Greek-Cypriot TV that there was evidence of strong American involvement in this coup. The reason she read or heard was that the USA wanted Makarios to sign an agreement allowing the Americans to have a military base in Cyprus, and Makarios refused to sign.

If this is true it seems unlikely that the Americans desperately needed a base in Cyprus (they certainly haven’t demanded or established one since), so this is more likely to have been a ‘test’ for the loyalty of Makarios to the West. There were, and are still, two huge British sovereign bases in Cyprus, in effect two areas of British occupation. Britain being America’s faithful ‘poodle’, the staunchest ally of the USA within NATO, the Americans already had a proxy presence in Cyprus if they needed it.

On the British bases is a listening post, and according to my father (who I suspect knew a lot more about the coup and rightwing politics in Cyprus than he ever told me – he was in Cyprus at the time of the coup) nuclear warheads are also stored in underground bunkers in the British base areas.

He told me back in 1977 that there were lots of things in Cyprus I knew nothing about, and also maintained that Makarios was a ‘Communist’. Now this was strange coming from him, as he always had a photo of Makarios on his mantelpiece in Hampstead, London, alongside one of EOKA-B terrorist George Grivas. After the unsuccessful coup and attempt to kill Makarios, the picture of Makarios disappeared forever because, apparently, he was now an ally of the Soviet Union.

Of course this was the real fear of the USA and NATO – that President Makarios would allow the Soviet navy to use Cypriot ports or even allow them to establish a base there, giving the Soviet Union direct access to the Eastern Mediterranean. The Americans would be unlikely to ask Makarios directly to sign an agreement denying Soviet naval ships access to Cypriot ports, or to deny the Soviets a military base in Cyprus. This could not only be counter-productive, putting ideas into his head perhaps, but would be clearly seen as an interference in the sovereignty of Cyprus. A much more likely ‘test’ would be to ask Makarios to sign an agreement allowing the Americans a military base in Cyprus.

Refusal to sign such an agreement would confirm to the Americans and NATO that Cyprus, with its strong AKEL Communist Party, was a country led by an unpredictable ‘loose cannon’ in the shape of President Makarios who was no friend of the West and who had to be gotten rid of. Cyprus was never a NATO member, Makarios attending summits of the non-aligned group of countries which included other neutral states like Communist Yugoslavia.

Greece and Turkey, on the other hand, were NATO members. Greece had a rightwing military coup in power and Turkey had American nuclear warheads stationed there near the border with the Soviet Union. Britain, of course, was America’s permanent nuclear aircraft carrier and expendable early warning station in the event of a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. As Tory Prime Minister Sir Alec Douglas-Home once said ‘the British people are prepared to be blown to atomic dust if necessary’ failing to add: ‘to save our masters the United States of America.’

The failure of the thousands of British troops permanently stationed in Cyprus to act to preserve Cypriot independence when first Greece (by means of the Athens-backed Sampson coup) then Turkey invaded the island was cast-iron proof of NATO involvement in these events, and the apparent discovery of an agreement which Makarios refused to sign which would have allowed an American military presence in Cyprus is further evidence of an American/NATO plot to rid the island of Makarios.

Had the coup been successful and had Makarios been killed in the operation then the likely end result, all agreed in advance between the NATO countries USA, UK, Greece and Turkey, would have been the annexing of Southern Cyprus by Greece (Enosis) and the incorporation of Northern Cyprus into Turkey. Since both were NATO members, Cyprus would then become part of the NATO alliance since Britain, which occupied the huge sovereign bases, was of course also a NATO member.

In actual fact Makarios got wind of the coup and escaped, went to the UN in New York and asked for help because ‘Greece has invaded Cyprus’. His pleas were largely ignored (except for some ineffective UN resolutions about the events of 1974), as were Turkey’s pleas to Britain, joint guarantor of Cypriot independence, to cooperate with Turkey in overthrowing the Greek-backed coup.

After the Turkish intervention and the collapse of the Sampson coup, the junta in Athens was also overthrown. The fact that Greece sent so few troops to Cyprus to defend the coup, which was bound to provoke a Turkish military response, is further proof that the whole thing, including the division of Cyprus, was planned in advance by the four NATO countries mentioned – Greece, Turkey, UK and USA. The presence of the two huge British sovereign bases were a solid guarantee that any Turkish invasion would not encroach on the South of the island, so Greece did not need to send troops unless they wanted to annex the whole island. Quite obviously they were told in advance this was untenable and that fellow-NATO member Turkey had to be allowed to annex the North of the island if the South became part of Greece.

The survival of Makarios meant that the island was never formally annexed by Greece and Turkey and instead two nominally independent Cypriot republics were established, one allied to Greece and one to Turkey. To this day, alongside the flags of the two Cypriot republics, flies the Greek mainland flag in the South and the Turkish mainland flag in the North. While of course in the British sovereign base areas, where British law rules making them effectively British mini-colonies, the Union flag flies.

Makarios returned to Cyprus to resume his role as President of the Greek-Cypriot entity, but very conveniently died of a ‘heart attack’ just three years later in 1977. Thus the archbishop who attended ‘non-aligned’ summits which the USA and NATO regarded as anti-Western was finally removed from the scene, and Cyprus was flying the flags of three staunch NATO countries, and of course permanently occupied by NATO troops supplied by the UK. Turkey, of course, also maintains a military presence in the North, whilst the Greek-Cypriot republic, very closely allied to NATO member Greece, has its National Guard.

The division of Cyprus, which involved huge ethnic cleansing and moving of populations – Greek-Cypriots forced to move South and Turkish-Cypriots forced to move North, actually suits the Cypriots of both communities very well indeed, despite loss of land, homes and businesses by both ethnic Cypriot groups. This is why it is so difficult to agree terms on the reunification of the island, even under a federal solution allowing autonomy for Turkish and Greek Cypriot states.

However things have greatly improved recently, with the border on the Green Line being opened to all Cypriots and freedom of movement between the two Cypriot republics. The difficulty in reaching a final settlement stems from the fact that both the Greek-Cypriots and the Turkish-Cypriots want to keep their ethnic balance and do not want a huge influx of people from the other Cypriot community taking up permanent residence, and reclaiming lost homes, land and businesses.

This is now slowly recognized as being impractical after 36 years of two separate Cypriot republics, so a final settlement depends on the level of financial compensation to both communities for these lost homes, land and businesses, and also on agreeing probably limited rights of return for some Turkish and Greek Cypriots to, if not their former homes, at least the areas where they used to live. This last issue is the most difficult to resolve of course, which is why many in Cyprus prefer the status quo and are not falling over themselves to reach a final settlement.

8 thoughts on “Cyprus 1974 – American involvement?

  1. Hi, I just want to say as usual it is always the British and Americans that is the cause of practically everything. The reason for Africa’s division, the reason for China and Taiwans division, the reason for Korea’s division, and millions more and its unfortunate that they have destroyed our beautiful island that we all love be it Greek, Turkish, Maronite and yet it continues to suffer while they gain as usual.
    I am of Cypriot Turkish, Greek and Maronite mixed descent and i hate what has happened all for colonialism and all for empirialism.


    1. Hi Umit,

      So pleased to read your very accurate reply, and to hold out the hand of friendship to you, a mixed-race Cypriot. I too am mixed race, brought up in London by my English mother and grandparents. My father was Greek-Cypriot but my parents separated when I was 6, and he was absent from our home or sleeping most of the time before that, so I never even learnt Greek and never visited Cyprus till I was 32 in 1977.

      I have visited both Cypriot republics (including that embryo state, the Turkish Federative State of Cyprus, in 1977) several times, entering the TRNC from the Turkish mainland during the 1990s. My last visit to both Cypriot republics was in November 2009.

      I have great sympathy for the Turkish-Cypriots who have very unfairly been made scapegoats for the division of the island, and denied EU membership even though they voted for reunification under the Annan plan, while the Greek-Cypriots rejected it so are responsible for the continued division of the island.

      But Umit you are right about the British and Americans. Wherever the British were involved there has been division, trouble and ethnic clashes due to Britain’s colonialist past and interference.

      Britain colonized the Indian sub-continent (modern day India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh), Iraq, Palestine/Israel, Cyprus, Ireland, the Malvinas/Falkland Islands, Gibraltar…. the list is endless. Wherever there’s trouble, there’s a fair bet the British were there and had a lot to do with it, drawing lines on maps with little regard to local ethnic feelings or desires. They handed over part of Palestine to Jewish settlers from America, Britain and other countries without even asking the Palestinians. The worst kind of colonialism.

      Of course in a more distant past British settlers colonized North America, Australasia and much of Africa, enslaving or killing the indigenous population.

      The Americans took up the mantle in the 20th Century, and as you say have been responsible for much of the trouble since the Second World War. They invaded Vietnam simply to stop the Vietnamese voting for Ho Chi-Minh – they canceled the elections and installed a puppet dictator in the South.

      They launched a war on Iraq for no reason whatsoever, lying about weapons of mass destruction they knew perfectly well didn’t exist there (their spy planes, spy satellites and the UN Inspectors on the ground would have spotted them, as spy satellites spotted missile sites in Cuba with much more primitive technology back in 1962.) Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 or Al Quaida, and there are strong indications the CIA was involved, spiriting Bin Laden’s relatives out of USA just before 9/11.

      Cyprus has suffered from British colonial interference and American neo-colonialist policies because of its stragetic position in the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East.

      Hopefully a solution can soon be found to reunite the island under a federal or confederal system allowing the Turkish and Greek Cypriot states autonomy within a united republic.

      1. Hopefully as you say, peace that is fair for all will happen soon my brother and i hope our fellow Cypriots will preserve the dying language of Sanna that the Maronites speak as it can only be found in our beautiful island!

        I hope that justice and peace can also be delivered to all the countries that are also today suffering from the same reasons!
        This hard task is left for our generations and the next to solve, but first people should break away from the shackles that hold their minds.

        Today in almost every nation their is such an evil of nationality, ethnicity and of course religion!
        As an example take Cyprus, both sides have more Greece and Turkey flags around than there are Cypriot flags and yet its Cyprus. I ask anyone with the knowledge of history to tell me when these flags were made and also tell me whom the original Cypriots were? The original Cypriots were not Greek or Turkish they were actually neolithic people with no sense of ethnicity rather that was later introduced by the countless invaders including Greeks! The same applies to all nations and nationalities!

        If you wanted to say that Religious difference should hold precedent again i would need to urge that if indeed you belong to the 2 main Abrahamic religions does it not say we descend from Adam and Eve? and if so does that not make us one and the same?
        And if a Atheist wants to reject Adam and Eve, i ask him then isn’t it that Scientists have traced that the first human life started in Africa? and that if Evolution did happen then surely we evolved from the same place apes right? again making the ideology of Adam and eve real in the sense that there was first a man and woman for the race to exist and so we are again one and the same!

        My point is until all people understand these aforementioned facts we cannot break free from these shackle that currently occupy our minds and enslaves us to these narrow minded ideologies which pushes people to behave like less than animals!

        I am religious and believe in Islam and in that it says that no Arab is better than a non Arab and no non Arab better than an Arab, no White man is better than a black man and no black man better than a white man – yet today people either base themselves based on a hierarchy of either race, colour or sometimes wealth but surely this is a waste of time, resources and waste of life – do you see a Lion in the wild go and think itself better than all other animals? no! it hunts for its food etc takes what it needs defends its offsprings and besides that not much else! yet us the thinking creatures cannot even think as clearly as a Lion or any animal!

        We need to make the youth which is our futures that to attain peace we need to free our minds from the hundreds if not thousands of years of shackles put on them!


    2. Oh, I can’t disagree with you. The world still bears the wounds of Colonialism and will for a very long time. They could shape the world for the next thousand years. The British way of extricating themselves from their colonies once they could not longer make a profit set the world up for many many of the conflicts we still deal with today. Same for the other Colonial powers. And the Turks have not been Saints as Ottoman Turkish history will illustrate.

      America? we are just a bunch of adolescents thrust upon the world. As adolescents, We really have no strategy, we are just full of energy that occasionally gets pointed in a certain direction and God help anyone in the way. It is not intentional. That would imply a certain amount of thought adolescents aren’t really capable of. I do suggest staying out of our way if we are pointed in your direction however. It won’t be personal, but it will not be pleasant.

  2. Umit, everything you say is so true. I have hopes that Spirit (or Allah, God) is working to inspire humans to live peacefully together. Never before has there been so much spiritual knowledge available to so many people worldwide via the Internet.

    The key thing is that we are all one, whatever our religion or if we are atheists/agnostics. And it is how we live our lives and treat others which matters, not what we believe.


  3. Following from IZ, of Turkish-Cypriot origin living in England:

    Hello Tony,

    It really is refreshing to find Greek Cypriot origin people who have not had a complete brainwash by the Greek Cypriot Government’s propaganda over the many years. I am afraid the roots of the problem lie in hatred. Many GC children grow up hearing from the Orthodox Church that the Turks are their enemy. This becomes so engrained into people’s psyche that it is impossible to shake it off even in later life. And a factor people do not mention is the “small island mentality”, on both sides of Cyprus. They just can’t see beyond what they are told locally. I have met many Greek mainland people who are very relaxed about relations with Turkey and Turkish people, not so many from Cyprus.

    The reality of recent events of Cyprus is that it was Greek Cypriots who were wound up by Macarios and Grivas to scrap the 1960 constitution, before the ink was dry on it, in 1963. What was agreed by GCs, TCs, UK, Turkey, Greece was that there should be a right of veto on issues to the Turkish Cypriots. Having agreed to it, they ratted on it. The scrapping of right of veto meant that the GC majority in government could simply do what they liked from that point on. (And what they, especially Sampson openly wanted to do was to drive the “Turks into the sea”. There is a mountain of evidence on this, like the Akritas plan). The net result was a very one-sided attack on Turkish Cypriots in 1963-4 with 150 people dead within a week, a deliberate effort to terrorise TCs away from their homes. This worked. From 1963-74, TCs were driven out of land owned and occupied by them which was about 30% of Cyprus, to 3%. Between 1963-74, you never saw the Cyprus flag, it was always the Greek flag in Cyprus. GCs had absolutely no interest in integrating with TCs. Cruel embargoes were applied to TCs and being denied of employment and many other human rights, many of them could do nothing but to emigrate to the UK, Canada, Australia and other countries. GCs simply didn’t want to know about TCs during this time, and their Hellenic nationalistic fervour was strong as ever.

    You are absolutely right about 1974. There is a voice recording of Macarios making a speech to the Council of Europe that we can all listen to today, where he describes the events as, the invasion of Cyprus by Greek military junta and asks the UN to intervene. Separately, he asked Turkey directly to intervene at the same time. As he puts it “As I have already stated, the events in Cyprus do not constitute an internal matter of the Greeks of Cyprus. The Turks of Cyprus are also affected. The coup of the Greek junta is an invasion, and from its consequences the whole people of Cyprus suffers, both Greeks and Turks. It was under these circumstances that Turkey intervened.

    Again, it was agreed that there would be a UN referendum by both sides. TCs voted yes, GCs voted no by a large majority, but TCs are still being punished by international embargoes for voting for peace. If GCs had also voted for the plan, there will have remained only 3,000 Turkish troops on the island in accordance with the terms of the plan. But they were encouraged by Papadopulos to vote no.

    In September 2011, Mr Christofias, the current GC leader made an important statement which is very telling. He is one of the few GC politicians who can admit openly to the truth – very brave of him. His words to the GC diaspora in New York was:

    “Unfortunately this is our sorry state of affairs in Cyprus,” Christofias said. “I want to believe that at some point we will all be sensible and put our country above ourselves. We have suffered enough as a country; we have attempted suicide numerous times”.

    Best wishes to you & Cyprus!

  4. I do NOT think there was a NATO plot and the United States was in no way supporting the Turkish Invasion.

    Fact: I was part of the American sixth fleet as a Marine naval gunfire liaison, forward observer team. We were deployed off the coast of Cyprus as the Turks invaded. During this, the Turks were actively probing the British base where all the western European and American civilians had gone. The Turks were doing extremely low flyovers of our ships with the new F4 Phantoms America had supposedly not given them and the Soviets played their own games with their “trawlers.” Some small Turkish warships were also present. American 5 inch 38’s were pointed at them all the time. American destroyers were shadowing Soviet and Turk ships and running across their bows when they came in our direction. I realized the Jane’s estimation of the top speed of these destroyers was quite low as we were doing 15 knots and the destroyers went by us like we were standing still. The Turks appeared to be engaging in a best defense is a good offense approach by the active way they probed the British base in my opinion playing a game of chicken with an ongoing implied threat to the civilians.

    The Turks kept this up and around July 3rd, 1974, the Marines were activated and prepped for combat. They lined the units up on the flight decks and gave everyone ammo and readied the helicopters for an air assault. As I noted, I was with the naval gunfire liaison team acting as forward observers for naval gunfire. We were to be deployed in advance of the Marine Landing, I assume on the British base to support them in defense of the W Europe/American Civilians. Our mission was to land on a high point behind the Turkish troops and call in naval gunfire to support a Marine landing within the British base. On three occasions over three days, we began to load on the helicopters. On one occasion we were boarding the helicopters.

    Fact: Our mission was to call US Naval gunfire upon Turkish troops. This is not the act of a country in support of Turkey. We were locked and loaded and the 17 other men I was with were going to kill Turkish troops and likely die in the process ourselves.

    So, I give you these facts to counter any arguments about America supporting the Turks. I was there, I was an American Marine and I was part of a mission to kill Turks to protect civilian lives if needed. I’m thanking God, that mission was not implemented as I would have likely died in the process. There you go in relation to all your speculation. I was there and personally as a Marine, we were motivated to kill Turks and that was our job. We were not looking upon them as friends and allies I can assure you.

    1. The point I was making was that the Greek Sampson coup against Makarios to annex the island to Greece was probably part of a NATO plot to ride the island of the troublesome archbishop. That Turkey would then invade the North to provide a safe haven for Turkish-Cypriots must have been anticipated, especially when the thousands of British troops permanently stationed in the two Sovereign Bases (occupied areas) were ordered NOT to intervene to restore Cypriot unity and independence. The ONLY possible reason that UK, as a guarantor of Cypriot independence, did not act is that it was all part of a NATO plot. What NATO member Turkey did in response to the Greek coup may well not have been planned by NATO, but it MUST have been foreseen. I could foresee it as soon as UK refused to act to crush the Sampson coup.

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