I have always maintained, simply by looking at how the events of July 1974 in Cyprus unfolded, that theÂ Greek mainland-backedÂ 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 militaryÂ 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 establishedÂ 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,Â was a countryÂ led by an unpredictableÂ ‘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’sÂ permanent nuclear aircraft carrier and expendableÂ 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 thenÂ the likely end result, all agreed in advance between the NATO countries USA, UK, Greece and Turkey, would have been the annexing of Southern CyprusÂ 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 hugeÂ 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 toÂ 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 allÂ Cypriots and freedom of movement between the two Cypriot republics. The difficulty in reaching a final settlement stems from the fact thatÂ both the Greek-CypriotsÂ 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 beingÂ impractical after 36 years of two separate Cypriot republics, so a final settlement depends on the level of financial compensationÂ to both communities for these lost homes, land and businesses, and also on agreeing probably limited rights of return for someÂ 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.