Cyprus has seen so many conquerors and colonialists, ranging from the Romans, Crusaders, Lusignsn, Venetians and the British, all who invaded the island and sought to control ports which served as ,major avenues for trade. The 1923 Lausanne treaty accorded the British the power to colonize the island despite the Turks insistence on having control of the island whose majority population was the Greek. The inept change of colonial masters affected the structure in the island, ranging from culture, cuisine music and most importantly the administration which had alternated from the Sultan who has sold the island to the Ottomans to the British Imperial Company who had their own structure of governance different from the earlier rulers.
The 1923 treaty also offered the minority Muslim population two options; either to leave the island completely and live in Turkey as Turks or remain as nationals of British. The inhabitants of the islands prided in their background and identified themselves as either Greek or Turkish. Coincidentally, they reservedly believed they were better far off than the other socially and education wise. Thus, they lived side by side in tension. The forces of colonial governance, secularization and economic dynamics transformed the inhabitants to two ethnic forces allied to two nations. Through education, the youth perceived flawed doctrines of ethnicity, culture, folklore and nationalist myths. Propaganda was a potent tool for the spread of ethnicity as well as chauvinism which sought to extrapolate one ethnic group as superior to the other.
The principle applied by Britain- Divide and rule- also cultivated ethnic polarization and fuelled ethnic animosity. Though religion and education sought to reduce the ethnic divide, nationalism promoted increased the differences between the ethnic members of that composed the Cyprus islands. The Turkish nationalists observed the six principles of Kemal Ataturk, best known as Kemalism or fondly referred to as the ‘six arrows.’ They included secularism; concept that governance should be separated from religion and its teachings and the Turks emphasized the Turkish nationalism as the source of Cyprus nationalism. This governance orientation reinforced the division between the Turk Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots. The Greek Cypriots on their part postulated that NATO, led by Britain and the United States opposed the idea of an independent Cyprus because it could easily fall into the communist hands.
The EOKA (representing the National Organization of Cypriot Fighters) aimed at driving the British out of the Island and integrate it to Greece. The organization facilitated the murder of Turkish Cypriots who were believed to be colluding with the British. In addition, they sought to remove all obstacles that hindered the realization of their dream for independence. Aided by the Greek Foreign minster, they successfully planted bombs in 1951 targeting the Turkish Cypriots. Under the patronage off Makarios III, the EOKA held its first secret talks and established a council ostensibly to spearhead a revolution which would integrate the Island with Greece. The Greek Cypriots operated under the umbrella of this organization and on June 1955 the first Turkish policeman was killed. Persons of Greek descent accused of collaborating with the British were also targeted.
The animosity between Turks and Greeks in Cyprus triggered attacks of the minority Greeks in Istanbul, the capital city of Turkey with accusing fingers pointing at the then Greek Prime Minister- Adnan Mendres. In the upsurge of the attaks, shops and residential establishments owned by the Greeks were destroyed. Thousands of Greeks exited the city in the aftermath of the escalating animosity. The upturn of events momentarily quelled EOKA’s quest for liberation from the British but not for long. They resumed their activities targeting residents regarded to be British and those who had attachments to the British.
The Turkish Cypriot did not keep cool on this and on their part formed the TMT (which stands for Turkish Resistance Organization). This organization retaliated its desire to counter the activities of the EOKA. In part of their defense, they raised the issue of partitioning the island so that the populace belong to an area either side where they can express their nationalist interests. Some of the major attacks staged by the TMT included the killing of eight civilians of Greek origin in Geunyeli and the blowing up of the Press offices of Nicosia in the disguise of Greek Cypriots. In the lead up to the conclusion of the discussions for the independence, the antics of the TMT were focused on impeding the negotiations. The Turkish Government offered support to the TMT and indeed sent a ship loaded with firearms which were discovered in the ‘Deniz’ incident. In 1960, the island was declared independent under the London- Zurich agreements.
The attainment of independence did not usher in a period of peace but rather ushered communal violence, including massacres of members of the Turkish community. The massacres led to the revocation of permits for persons of Greek origin residing in Istanbul and their property confiscated. The Cypriot leader threatened the amendment of the constitution to revoke the guaranteed rights of ethnic Turks on the island; the island erupted with communal violence prompting Turkey, Great Britain, and Greece to consider sending NATO forces to the island. However, the Greek Cypriots were unsatisfied with the allocation of the majority of the governmental posts in relation to their population. The Greek Cypriots pushed for the end of the separation brought by the Turkish Municipal councils which they envisioned to be the beginning of the partition they so much opposed.
The number of legislative positions allocated to the Turkish Cypriots was so influential that it could veto the government, and their force was felt in 1963 when the government was repeatedly forced into deadlock. Major legislation stalled and Makarios proposed constitutional amendments aimed at making the state run. The Turkish civil servants ceased attending their work. The Turkish government accused the Greek Cypriots of sabotage and pointed to the Akritas plan as aimed at suppressing the Turks before invasion could be mounted. On their side, the Turks claimed that they were coerced out of their offices due to their stance on the proposed constitutional changes and Greek forces played a big hand in hounding them out.
The Greek Cypriots accused the Turks of belated attempts to adhere to the proposals of Istanbul and annex the territory through partitioning the area they resided in and joint with Turkey. Turkey supported this partition and even facilitated the forced displacement of persons and even so they never admitted to it openly, its intent was quite elaborate on the Acheson plan which would have led to the division of the island between Greece and Turkey. The Greek –Cypriots claimed that the 1964 withdrawal of the Turkish-Cypriots was in preparation of the imminent partition of the island. The Turks also employed quotas, segregatory and apartheid systems which oppressed thee Greeks, but was justified by their powerful position in the government. In addition, the tension, conflict and ethnic clashes would not sustain a healthy relationship for Cyprus, a relationship that would foster national harmony and cohesion and thus provide the best climate for prosperity.
On their part, the Turkish-Cypriots argued that they were hounded out of office at gunpoint. They also claimed that 31% of their land was annexed and they were scattered into enclaves. The land was taken by Greek settlers and the Greek military that was supported by the EOKA. They also included the torture purportedly being meted on them plus murder by the EOKA. In April 1974, Cypriot intelligence informed President Makarios III of a planned coup being organized by EOKA. The coup organizer had the go-ahead from Athens and was actually supported by the Military Junta of Athens. The junta was ruling Greece courtesy of a military coup in 1967 which was highly condemned by the European nations but had the support of the United States.
The Junta faced massive demonstrations from Polytechnic universities which escalated to open anti-junta revolt, characterized by bloodshed. The revolt occasioned the ascent to power of another obscurantist captained by Brigadier Ioannides but with Phaedon Giziki’s as head of state. Makarios complained of the influential force and the military support being accorded to the Greeks but instead the government endorsed the conspiracy which resulted to the overthrow of the government. President Makarios III escaped with the help of Great Britain. The need for quick invasion was vital because Nikos Sampson, the man who had ascended to power, claimed he would not only have proclaimed enosis but would also have annihilated all the Turks in Cyprus. The invasion of Cyprus was not greeted warmly by the other allies of Turkey. They claimed that their actions would only fuel the animosity in Cyprus as well as tamper with the fragile peace.
The Turkey government improvised an invasion plan that outlined the importance of peace in the island. The Then Prime minister of Turkey asserted this and claimed that the sole motivation of their going to Cyprus was not war but peace for the Turkish and the Greeks. He cemented this claim by arguing that they expected the least of resistance if any. The situation on the ground called for immediate intervention lest it ran out of control and Turkey sought to ensure that by sending its military troops. However, one wonders what the out come of the confrontation would have been had Greece itself been stable and had it offered to support the EOKA.
The invasion was condemned from different quarters. In particular, the decision of Turkey to declare to declare the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus as part of Turkey received opposition from the United States and Britain. The UN Security Council also repealed Turkey and accused it of repeated violation of Human Rights. Alarm has been raised over the continued occupation of northern Cyprus and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus declared as a ‘legally invalid’ state. In addition the atrocities caused and the victims are many not to mention the number of missing persons and those persons who are yet to be accounted for. Despite all the pressure, Turkey has stood strong ad refused to bulge to the demands of the UN or foreign powers. Adnan Menderes was the first democratically elected political leader in Turkish history. He served as prime minister between 1950–1960. He was one of the founders of the Democratic Party in 1946, the fourth legal opposition party of Turkey.