greek junta

THE GREEK junta, egged on by circles in NATO, was primarily responsible for the 1974 ‘twin crimes’ against Cyprus: the coup and the Turkish invasion, the File on Cyprus, released into the public domain yesterday, concluded.

The full report, compiled by a special House committee, has been posted on the Parliament’s website (www.parliament.cy/). It covers the period 1967 to 1974 and the events leading up to the coup against then President Makarios, and the Turkish invasion.

Heavy on conjecture, the report does not apportion any criminal or other liability for the coup that toppled Archbishop Makarios, as this was not part of the parliamentary committee’s terms of reference.

Yet its wording unmistakably puts the blame squarely on the military dictatorship that ruled Greece in the 1960s and 1970s. The junta, as it is more popularly known, is said to have consistently undermined Makarios and Cypriot independence from the outset.

“A fundamental policy in various circles in Athens was the prevention of any Soviet influence over Cyprus. This would be achieved through the imposition of a solution that would consolidate NATO interests on the basis of a two-way Enosis [i.e. partitioning Cyprus, giving one part to Turkey and one part to Greece], but there was lack of awareness of Turkey’s broader strategic objectives,” the report concludes.

“To that end, Archbishop Makarios needed to be removed from power as he stood in the way of this policy. His removal would come about either via his voluntary withdrawal from the presidency (naturally following pressure) or via a violent overthrow.”

Friction between Athens and Nicosia over who should have had the last say in matters concerning Cypriot security led to strained relations that worsened with time, while external players (such as the United States and NATO) played a key role in influencing Greek decision-making, the report states.

It cites a Greek Foreign Ministry document that is said to “confirm that Greece and Turkey had discussed the prospect of working together with the aim of toppling Archbishop Makarios and of imposing a pro-NATO solution for Cyprus.”

However nowhere is this document – which would lend credibility to the claim – referenced, nor is a copy of the original displayed in the report’s annexes; and it’s not entirely clear whether the authors are relying on secondary sources.

The report essentially preserves what is now conventional wisdom, namely, the belief that Cyprus was “betrayed” by Greece in collaboration with elements in the Cypriot National Guard.

It highlights, for example, the fact that Turkish forces were conducting large-scale drills off the Bay of Mersina as early as April 1974, after which they were on heightened alert. The report notes that these wargames were being monitored by Cypriot intelligence, but the information was apparently not passed on to where it mattered.

Among others, the File draws on material from declassified documents of the British Foreign Office and the US government, as well as on material from the Cypriot Secret Service, National Guard and police archives, personal diaries, and the testimony of people summoned before the House committee.

In total, 174 people testified before the committee, although they were not obliged to do so under oath. An additional seven persons were summoned but did not show up, for the main part members or associates of the EOKA B organisation.

The House committee spent some €400,000 of taxpayers’ money during the years 2007 and 2010.

Some of the persons listed as testifying had been interviewed prior to 2006 when the current parliamentary committee, under these terms of reference, commenced work. They include such names as: Tassos Papadopoulos, Glafcos Clerides, Vasos Lyssarides, Spyros Kyprianou, Takis Evdokas (Makarios’ opponent in the 1968 presidential elections), Nikos Koshis, radio-show host Lazaros Mavros, Patroclos Stavrou (Under-Secretary to Makarios during the period in question) and Vera Sampson, wife of Nikos Sampson.

The annexes include material such as Makarios’ speech before the UN Security Council on 19 July 1974, four days after the Greek-backed coup against him. In the speech, Makarios appeals to the Security Council “to do their utmost to put an end to this anomalous situation, which was created by the coup of Athens. I call upon the Security Council to use all ways and means at its disposal so that the constitutional order in Cyprus and the democratic rights of the people of Cyprus can be reinstated without delay.”

In a statement with widespread implications, the Cypriot leader told the Security Council that “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.”

This statement has been the object of intense debate among commentators, some of whom argue that it gave Turkey, which was already preparing for invasion, the final green light – or pretext – to move in.

Source: Cyprus Mail

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