Cape Greco File: The 7 French-American Antennas and the Importance for Cyprus (VIDEO)

The last lighthouse keeper, the American Evangelists, the Nazi submarine & the myths of Aphrodite at the southeastern tip of Europe.

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The peninsula of Cape Greco, one of the natural diamonds of Kokkinochoria, is the southeasternmost point of Cyprus, Hellenism and Europe. For many decades, seven mysterious antennas, known in the area as "the French antennas", have been operating at this point. Many myths have developed around these facilities regarding their actual purposes and uses. The fact that there are no signs, plates or flags in the hermetically sealed area also contributed to this, with the result that conspiracy theories are raging about what is really going on behind the barbed wire, which goes down to the sea.

Recently, it was announced that the antennas will finally be dismantled and the area will be returned to the Republic of Cyprus.

"Simerini" opens today the Cape Greco file with fascinating details about the history of the French and American radio installations and the lighthouse that pre-existed in the area. At the same time, it unravels the tangle of some ancient and modern legends about the "Cape Rudder", which are remembered by old Paralimnites and Agiannapites.

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Chronicle of the Cyprus-France agreement

A press release issued by the Public Information Office on 11 December 1970 states: "An agreement was signed today between the Cyprus Radio Foundation and SOMERA Company for the establishment of a Monte Carlo broadcasting station on the Island. The relevant license was granted by the Government of the Republic on the basis of the terms of the agreement concluded by RIK after the SOMERA Company. Under the agreement, the station, which is expected to be operational by the end of next year, will broadcast mainly music programs, news bulletins and commercials. It will not broadcast programs in Greek and Turkish, and there will be a mechanism to control the programs under the RIK, in order to protect the sensitivity of the place to national and religious issues and to prevent any friction after the neighboring countries. The agreement, which will last for 20 years, will provide RIK with financial and technical benefits. In order to implement the agreement, a contract was signed at noon at the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources for the lease to the SOMERA Company of forest land near Cape Greco, where the station will be built ".

The ownership of "Radio Monte-Carlo" has changed many times since 1970 depending on the evolution of the services or institutions of the French state that managed it. Today, France Médias Monde owns Radio France Internationale, France 24 and Monte Carlo Doualiya, the Arabic-language radio station broadcasting from Cape Greco in the Middle East and the Maghreb.

In November 2000 it was announced that the agreement between KD and SOMERA for the retransmission of the "RFI" signal was renewed for another ten years for the amount of £ 1.7 million.

In November 2019 it was announced that the antennas will be operational in January 2020, without the requirement to install elsewhere on the island and demolition studies have already been prepared.

A competent source told "Simerini" that the forthcoming dismantling of the antennas has nothing to do with the disruption of the excellent bilateral relations between Cyprus and France. One of the reasons for the termination is related to technical and economic reasons, as well as to the fact that with the development of digital and satellite media such broadcasts are now obsolete.

French loudspeaker in the Middle East

France's antennas were a projection of "soft power" in areas of interest, particularly in Syria and Lebanon. Due to its colonial past, France, like Britain, retains claims and bases in the territories of the former Ottoman Empire. In May 1916, French and British diplomats concluded the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement, with the consent of Russia as well. The pact divided the region into spheres of influence and control in the Levant, Anatolia, the Caucasus, Mesopotamia and Palestine.

As James Wood (2000) states in his book "History of International Broadcasting": "Like other international networks, RFI can be described as the current propaganda network of the French government. But RFI differs from other major networks such as VOA and BBC-WS in that it focuses mainly on culture. It did not take part in the Cold War, nor did it suffer from Soviet interference operations at its peak. " He added that the RFI kept the delicate balance of political neutrality and focused on being a cultural network, which is "believed to stem from the wisdom and foresight of President Charles de Gaulle himself", resulting in a loyal following of former French colonies and elsewhere.

According to Catherine Guigon (Le Monde, 09/02/1976), with Arabic broadcasts in Lebanon, Syria, Israel, Jordan and Egypt, "SOMERA radio was a form of France's economic and cultural presence in the region. as well as, indeed, an expression of its foreign policy ".

He states that the idea for the creation of such a radio station belonged to Pierre Lefranc, who was close to General de Gaulle. In 1968, when SOMERA was created, Archbishop Makarios approached to install a relay station, which was agreed in 1970. Behind SOMERA funding was the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

SOMERA (Societe Monegasque d'exploitation et d'etudes de radiodiffusion) is controlled by the French government and was only one part of the labyrinthine infrastructure of the state-run media, communication and white propaganda.

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American Evangelists

Trans World Radio, the American network of Evangelical Protestants, began broadcasting from Cape Greco on May 1, 1974, in collaboration with Radio Monte-Carlo. Its target audience in the Middle East is estimated at 130 million and Cape Greco was the third point of broadcast.

"TWR" is one of the oldest religious networks that effectively used shortwave to spread their message for their proselytizing work. It began as the "Voice of Tangier" in 1954. It was founded by Paul Freed and broadcast from Morocco to Spain, when the Tangier region was still an "international zone" (under the tutelage of France, Spain and Britain and later Portugal). , Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and the USA).

With the ban on private stations from 1959 (Tangier was incorporated into Morocco in 1956), the station was renamed "TWR". Then began his collaboration with "Radio Monte Carlo" and used his transmitter in Monaco. Over the years it has increased its presence and now has radio stations around the world with its signal reaching millions of people. According to them, they broadcast in more than 230 languages ​​and have offices or representatives in 80 countries or regions. It is based in North Carolina, USA with "missionary units" worldwide. In Cyprus, in addition to the radio station in Cape Greco, it still maintains representatives who live and work here.

Voice of America

In June 2002, Minister of Transport & Works Averoff Neophytou signed an agreement with US Ambassador Donald Bandler on a new transmitter in Cape Greco for the rebroadcast of the Middle East Radio Network, also known as Radio Sawa. "MERN" was a "Voice of America" ​​pilot program aimed at Arab audiences under the age of 30 and broadcast news, music, announcements, analyzes, views and interviews on a range of socio-political issues aimed at improving image of the USA in the hearts and minds of the Arab people. The "Voice of America" ​​is part of the "US Agency for Global Media" of the US federal government.

Several researchers, such as Wood, report that the French transmitter was also a transponder for Radio Canada International.

Cape Greco & signals

Cape Greco has always been a point of interest in signal transmission.

During the EOKA struggle, between 1956-58, the 751 Signals Unit of the RAF (Royal Air Force), which was a mobile unit, was camping in tents at the place where the antennas are today. In 2015, Terry O'Reilly, who served as a radar operator, published the book "The Dustbin Bandits: A Story of RAF 751 Signals Unit in Cyprus, 1956 to 1958", which describes their lives and the attacks suffered by EOKA, especially when passing through Paralimni. The concrete floors where the tents were fixed, as well as the first logistics facilities are preserved.

On the hill further back was the pre-independence Communications Station, held by Britain under the Zurich-London Accords. The facility hosted NATO's Allied Command Europe Highband Tropospheric Scatter Station. The air defense station was connected to the British Bases, the RAF Radar Station in Troodos and the NATO Area Control Center in Adana, Turkey. British documents state that for many years Turkish soldiers went under cover of the British to the station to inspect the facilities.

In December 1994, the British withdrew from Cape Greco after first blowing up the facility. Since 1997, the area has been used by the National Guard as the "Isaac-Solomos Camp" of the 34th Squadron.

The Lighthouse of Cape Greco

While the land where the facilities are located belongs to the Department of Forests as part of the Cape Greco National Forest Park, the lighthouse that exists there belongs to the Cyprus Ports Authority.

In an interview with Lambros Kaoulas ("Simerini") and Marino Pavlikka ("Famagusta News"), the last lighthouse keeper of Cape Greco, George Tsolakis-Mallouris gave a lot of information about the area.

Mr. Tsolakis, a former EOKA fighter from Paralimni, worked after independence at the Customs Department in the Port of Famagusta. He was appointed Lighthouse Keeper on November 1, 1966 and lived there permanently with his family. He was responsible for lighting the lighthouse during the night, as well as for its cleanliness and maintenance, especially the windows. At that time, the lighthouse was working with LPG. The lighthouse was built, as he recalls, in 1892. In addition to the care of smooth navigation, it was also the informal "eyes" of other services, such as the Department of Customs, Thera and the Police after he made complaints when he observed smuggling and poaching. .


Mr. Tsolakis remained a lighthouse keeper until 1982, since then the systems of the Lighthouses in Cyprus were automated and now operated with solar energy. All lighthouse keepers were relieved of their duties. He moved to Larnaca Port, where he retired in 1994. His wife worked for the French radio station, which employed many Cypriots.

As he told us, the lighthouse was not connected to the antennas. Before the installation of the antennas, he remembers that the area was surveyed together with the French director and the lighthouse was excluded from the facilities of the radio station and remained under the jurisdiction of the then Port Authority, later the Cyprus Port Authority. "But, we were neighbors and we cooperated fully and when they transferred the electricity, the French gave an order, paid all the expenses for the infrastructure and provided electricity to the house of Faros, without expenses. The water supply was done by tankers ".

Mr. Tsolakis confirmed that it was not a military facility but a station for broadcasting French and Arabic programs, mainly music. He knew this from the staff who worked there, who were mainly Cypriots, except for the Director who was French. He also remembers the arrival of the Americans, who doubled the size of the station and installed their own infrastructure.

Nazi submarine in Konnos

The strategic importance of Cape Greco is evident from another detail. According to local oral histories, during World War II, a submarine of National Socialist Germany ambushed the area. Mr. Tsolakis confirmed this rumor to us: "The German submarine was ambushed in the Gulf of Konnos and was harassing British military and merchant ships destined for the Middle East, which the British could not detect. The lighthouse keeper at that time was a Turk and the Germans approached him and made him an informant, whom they paid. He would go to the villages of the area, shop and feed them. "The British slowly discovered him with information, arrested him and convicted him, towards the end of the war."

(The entire video interview of George Tsolakis will be posted soon on "Famagusta.News" with additional interesting details).

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The fight of Giannis Karousos

The current Minister of Transport, Communications & Works, Giannis Karousos, had highlighted in 2018, as Mayor of Ayia Napa, the possible dangers from the radiation of the antennas and put forward his vision for environmental, aesthetic and archaeological promotion of the area.

Speaking to "Simerini", he said that the issue of antennas is something that I fought for their movement intensely when I was also Mayor of Ayia Napa because it does not become such an important environmental point, in Natura area, in National Forest Park if there were those antennas means, which not only visually and environmentally caused problems but also most likely created health problems, since when we made measurements with the City Hall they showed that the radiation was very, very high. It is also characteristic that when the boats passed in front they turned off and stopped operating their systems. For me, they had to leave as soon as possible and highlight that point because the lighthouse is the southeasternmost tip of Europe. Therefore, I am glad that the decision to move was made shortly before I left the Mayor and I am happy that the decision is progressing and the area will be upgraded both environmentally and aesthetically and any danger will be removed. The issue is for the Municipality of Ayia Napa to proceed now to promote the Lighthouse in collaboration with the National Forest Park ".

As for the archeological dimension, as he told us, he was informed by the Department of Antiquities, of which he is a political leader, that "there was Aphrodite of the Edges, so named based on some sources, and the Department will make a consultation to find out if there really was or no".


Department of Forests & myths of Aphrodite

"Do not hear that Aphrodite was supposedly born in Paphos, Aphrodite was born in Cape Greco", my late grandfather used to tell me, reproducing an old legend of the area. Then, I took it as a cute outburst of lakeside localism. In the process, through the research, I also discovered that the Greek presence in the area is ancient and is certified by Strabo. In his "Geographika" he writes about the area that starts from the place where the monastery of Apostolos Andreas is located today (near which he mentions a temple "ἄδυτον γυναιξὶ καὶ ἀόρατον" of Aphrodite Akraia): "they are close to Cleides and many others, εἶθ᾽ αἱ Καρπασίαι νῆσοι, καὶ μετὰ ταῦτα ἡ Σαλαμίς, ὅθεν ἦν Ἄριστος ὁ συγγραφεύς: εἶτ᾽ Ἀρσινόη πόλις καὶ λιμήν: εἶτ᾽ ἄλλος λιμὴν Λεύκολλα: εἶτ᾽ ἄκρα Πηδάλιον, ἧς στάδιοι ἑξακόσιοι ὀγδοήκοντα: εἶτα κολπώδης καὶ τραχὺς παράπλους ὁ πλείων εἰς Κίτιον… ἔχει δὲ λιμένα κλειστόν: ἐντεῦθέν ἐστι Ζήνων τε ὁ τῆς στωικῆς αἱρέσεως ἀρχηγέτης καὶ Ἀπολλώνιος ».


Arsinoe is the ancestor of Famagusta and Lefkolla is rumored to be located in the area of ​​Protaras in Paralimni. Cape Greco is the "Rudder" and the hill that dominates remains to this day "rough high trapezoidal".

Cape Greco is a Coast and Nature Protection Area and Protected Landscape and the area is part of the "Natura 2000" network. Details and information about the geomorphological and soil elements, the rare flora, the fauna, the ancient and medieval settlements and the quarries of the wider area can be found in the book of Angelos D. Smagas (2008) "Cape Greco: Space - The Time "(2nd edition of the Metropolitan Church of Agios Georgios, Paralimni).

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The watchdog of the Cape Greco National Forest Park is the Forest Department and the Environmental Information & Education Center based in the area.

As the Director of the Department, Charalambos Alexandrou, stated in "Simerini", the development of the area is being prepared in consultation with the local authorities, such as the Municipalities of Ayia Napa and Paralimni, the Port Authority and the Department of Antiquities. For example, the administration building of the French radio station will be used as well as the lighthouse.

"The existing building facilities and the surrounding area will be highlighted for purposes of special tourist interest. "These have been discussed in the park's management advisory committee," he said.

Information indicates that there are initial thoughts for turning the lighthouse into a museum with research sites.


(published in "Simerini tis Kyriakis", 31/01/2021, column "Defense & Security Stories")