July 15, 1974: 49 years since the treacherous coup

The backdoor of the Turkish invasion of 1974 and the events

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The coup of July 15, 1974 against the legitimate government of the then president Archbishop Makarios is one of the most shocking and serious events in the recent history of Cyprus. The realization of the Turkish military invasion of the island only a few days later, on July 20, 1974, was the second and most destructive part that completed the diptych of calamity.

The antecedents: The coup d'état of 15 July 1974 was guided and ordered by decision-making centers outside Cyprus. From Athens, seat of the military junta that ruled Greece for 7 years (1967-1974), as the events themselves proved. Apparently, however, the final approval to carry out this action had been given by other, larger decision-making centers, where the investigation could not reach. There was a universal belief in Cyprus that carrying out the coup was a particularly serious action, so that the military dictators of Athens could not decide on it by themselves. It is known, on the other hand, that the regime in Greece could not be supported without the tolerance – even the help – of the country's Western allies. That is, of NATO and by extension of the United States of America itself.

The general and special interests of the United States in the vital and explosive Middle East and the oil region could not ignore the Cyprus factor. The Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East were, at the same time, a "contact" area of ​​the spheres of influence of the superpowers, the Eastern and Western worlds. The strategic importance of Cyprus was highly understood even from 1950-1956 and the statement at that time by the English Under-Secretary-General Hopkinson that the island, due to its peculiar conditions, could never become fully independent, was very characteristic and clear. At the same time, the chronic Cyprus issue was clearly dividing NATO's Southeast Wing, since, due to the Cyprus issue, two main members of the alliance, Greece and Turkey, were permanently in a state of hostility. This situation in the midst of the Cold War and the entrenchment doctrine of the Soviet Union was also particularly favorable for the Kremlin trying to find a foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean. In several cases, the Policy of Archbishop Makarios and the alignment of Cyprus with the Non-Aligned Movement controlled by the Soviet Union, even the attempt to purchase Soviet missiles, created fertile ground for Makarios to be accused by the West, especially the Americans, as Fidel Mediterranean castle.

The solution imposed in 1959-1960 (Zurich-London) soon proved, perhaps sooner than expected, not to work. Both the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots proved immature to accept the solution, so the problem remained. In 1964, after the departure of the T/k from the Government and the issuance of Resolution 186 by the UN, the United States tried through their own mediator, Dean Acheson, to propose their own solution which they tried to impose even with a lot of pressure on the then Greek government of George Papandreou, in 1965. Papandreou refused to give in and within the same year (July 1965) was dismissed from the palace.

For the Atcheson plan, there have been several approaches over time as to whether this plan was, under the circumstances, positive or negative for Cyprus.

A period of political instability followed in Greece, culminating in the imposition of a military dictatorship in April 1967. In Cyprus, President Makarios did not face similar problems. And because there was no strong opposition, and because he was powerful internally himself, and because (as non-aligned) he was able to secure his back, using as supports the UN, the Non-Aligned Movement, his personal friendships (e.g. with Nasser of Egypt), even the help he could secure from the Soviet Union and other Eastern countries. The mistake that many historians attribute to the Archbishop was that he did not consider the obvious in Cyprus. That through the Zurich-London treaties, Cyprus acquired three guarantor powers, all three of which were members of NATO. This in practice did not allow Cyprus to have the multi-dimensional policy envisioned by the Archbishop.

However, after the intercommunal conflicts (between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots) and the self-confinement of the Turkish Cypriots in the areas where they were the majority, and after he was able to face Turkey's threats of a military invasion of Cyprus, and after he was still able to ensure the international recognition and status of the Cypriot Republic, President Makarios agreed to start a dialogue between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, under the auspices of the UN. The dialogue began in 1968 and progressed very slowly but steadily. Things in Cyprus have now become calmer, especially after the major crises of 1964 (inter-communal conflicts and the intervention of the Turkish air force which bombed the area of ​​Tellyria) and 1967 (Battle of Kofinos, threats of invasion by Turkey, withdrawal from the island of the Greek division and General Grivas).

Around 1969-1970 Makarios seemed to be the big winner. Inside, he was always the undisputed leader and absolute ruler. Abroad his prestige was enormous and his personality internationally recognized. Rumors circulated in Greece that he might be the next great leader of all Hellenism; some even likened him to Eleftherios Venizelos who, starting from an island (Crete) overthrew a Greek dictatorship and led Greece forward, and expected that Macarius, also starting from an island (Cyprus), was able to do the same. Such views worried the Greek dictator George Papadopoulos. In fact, an attempt on the dictator's life (attempt by Al. Panagoulis) that started from Cyprus, with the involvement of the then Cypriot Minister of Interior and Defense Polykarpou Georgkatzis, came to increase the fears of the Greek military regime. And the Papadopoulou regime decided to act, turning against Makarios.

Papadopoulos asked Makarios for complete submission, with his obedience to any decisions made in Athens (at the "national center" as he called it), and shortly afterwards he asked for concessions from the Greek Cypriot side in the ongoing inter-communal dialogue on the island. Papadopoulos' first demand (obedience to him) can be easily explained. Makarios rejected it, stressing that he could not simply accept orders in matters concerning the survival of Cyprus itself, the country of which he was the elected president. Papadopoulos' second demand for concessions on the Cyprus issue was also explainable. We can assume that the demand for concessions on the part of Makarios did not come from Papadopoulos himself but from the western allies of Greece, through him. The old Acheson Plan had not been forgotten by the Americans and was still the cornerstone of their Cyprus policy. At the same time, Turkey did not seem at all willing to accept a purely Greek solution in Cyprus.
Papadopoulos ultimatum almost asked Makarios to approach the Cyprus issue more consensually, threatening him, in the opposite case, with taking "bitter measures". Makarios refused to obey. And now the "countdown" has begun.
(Video Digital Herodotus - RIK Archive)
It is clear from the actions that were taken, that the military regime decided to beat Makarios by using various situations in Cyprus itself, or by creating situations: The issue of the union of Cyprus with Greece suddenly began to be raised again on the island, and the Makarios began to be accused as a traitor because he had abandoned the ideal of the union. General Grivas, who since 1967, when he was recalled from Cyprus, was under surveillance by the Athens regime, was allowed to "disappear"; a little later it became known that he had secretly returned to Cyprus, where he founded the organization EOKA B with the aim of fighting for of the union of Cyprus with Greece, even fighting Makarios. Besides, with the guidance of the Greek embassy in Nicosia, the three Cypriot metropolitans (Gennadios of Paphos, Anthimos of Kiti and Cyprianos of Kyrenia) rose up, suddenly remembering that the high priest and the secular office were incompatible, and demanded that Makarios resign from the presidency, since he was and archbishop.

Thus, the regime of Athens mobilized every possible opponent or enemy of Makarios on the island, and all of them joined forces against him. At the same time, he used against the Makarios regime and the officers of the Greek army who were in Cyprus, both as a Greek detachment (ELDYK) and as leaders and officers of the Cypriot National Guard.

Source: Polygnosis