"THE CARVE-UP OF CYPRUS"
By the Marxist-Leninist Organisation of Britain;
Special Issue of "Class Against Class"; No.7, 1974.
THE AIM OF THE US MANOEUVRES IS TO BRING THE STRATEGIC MEDITERRANEAN ISLAND OF CYPRUS MORE FIRMLY INTO THE GRIP OF THE UNITED STATES' CLIENT STATES, GREECE AND TURKEY, AND SO WITHIN THE ORBIT OF THE US-DOMINATED NATO MILITARY BLOC OF WHICH BOTH THESE STATES ARE MEMBERS.
From the 16th century until 1878, Cyprus formed part of the Turkish Empire, but in the latter year it came under the effective control of Britain. In November 1914, on the outbreak of World War I, Britain annexed the island, and it became a British colony in 1925.
The movement for liberation began under Turkish rule among the Greek Cypriots, who suffered particular oppression, and its main demand was for "Hellenic unity", for "enosis" (that is, union with Greece). The movement continued to develop under British rule, and with the development of a weak Cypriot national bourgeoisie this class came to lead the liberation struggle. The effective leader of the movement was the Ethnarch of the Greek Orthodox Church, Mihail Mouskos -- Archbishop Makarios -- and embraced two organisations:
In December 1959, prior to the granting of "independence", elections were held for a Provisional President of Cyprus, Makarios stood on a platform of acceptance, with reservations, of the British imperialists' plan and was elected by a large majority.
Despite the fact that Makarios represented the interests of the Cypriot national bourgeoisie, the British imperialists felt it safe to hand over "power" to a government headed by him by reason of the antagonisms artificially built up between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities on the island, believing that these antagonisms and other "safeguards" could be effective in preventing the Makarios government from taking any steps to end the neo-colonial status of the island.
In the first place, the "Basic Structure of the Republic of Cyprus" imposed on the people of the island obliged the Cyprus government:
In the third place, Greece was permitted to keep a contingent of 950 troops on the island, Turkey a contingent of 650, and Britain an unlimited number of troops in two bases 99 sq. miles in area over which Britain retained sovereignty.
Cyprus was to remain within the sterling monetary bloc controlled by the British imperialists and to accord most-favoured-nation status to Britain, Greece and Turkey. In March 1961 it was admitted to the Commonwealth.
The "independent" Republic of Cyprus which came into being on August l6th, 1960 was, in reality a neo-colony of British imperialism.
Five months after "independence", in January 1961, the Cyprus House of Representatives approved a government Bill to proceed with the setting up of an army. On October 20th. the Bill was vetoed by the Turkish Cypriot Vice-President, Fazil Kutchuk.
In December 1962 Makarios attempted by Presidential decree to set up single, unified municipal councils in the towns. The mass of the Turkish Cypriots were persuaded by their comprador bourgeois leaders that this measure represented a "threat" to their community, and proceeded to organise armed bands to resist the operation of the decree in the areas where separate Turkish Cypriot municipal councils functioned. The Greek Cypriots were in turn persuaded by their comprador bourgeois politicians to form similar armed bands, and during 1963 armed clashes between the unofficial forces of the two communities increased, reaching a peak of violence in December 1963.
By this time the economic and military strength of British imperialism had greatly declined relative to that of United States imperialism, and in January 1964, on the pretext that the Cyprus government was unable to maintain order, Washington put forward a plan to send a NATO "Peace-keeping force" to the island. In the face of the firm objections of the Cyprus government, this plan was changed to a "United Nations Peace-keeping Force" (UNFICYP), which was formally established in March 1964. As a manoeuvre to press the Cypriot people into acceptance of this foreign armed forces the Turkish government in collaboration with its Washington overlords, had ordered its troops on the island to set up road blocks and was threatening, to invade the island "to protect the Turkish-Cypriot community".
On April 19th., 1964 the Turkish Foreign Minister, Federidun Erkkin, declared that Turkey would insist on "a federal solution" to the "problem of Cyprus", and successive Turkish governments since that date have reaffirmed that aim.
By the spring of 1964 the UN forces were manning barricades between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities all over Cyprus. The representatives of the Turkish Cypriot comprador bourgeoisie then withdrew from the government and the House of Representatives and behind the barricades, proceeded to set up their own "semi state". This was formally inaugurated on December 29th,, 1967 as a "Transitional Administration", with its own "President" (Fazil Kutchuk), Vice-President" (Rauf Denktash), Executive Council (government), House of Representatives, courts and police -- a rebellion against the Cyprus government carried out under the protection of the UN force and its own unofficial army, 10,000 strong.
The government replied in kind. On June lst,, 1964 the House of Representatives, in the absence of the Turkish Cypriot representatives, passed a Bill setting up a National Guard on the basis of conscription of the Greek Cypriot population. The measure was allowed to go into effect on one important condition: that it was officered by 650 officers from the Greek army. The Cypriot people were enjoined to have confidence in the "good faith" of the new "progressive" government of Georgios Papandreou elected on February l6th., 1964.
Then seeking to take advantage of the contradictions between the US imperialists and the Soviet neo-imperialists, in August 1964 Makarios appealed for military aid to the Soviet Union and Egypt; on October 1st. the Soviet government agreed to sell Soviet arms to Cyprus. Later in the month, at the Conference of Non-Aligned States in Cairo, Makarios pledged that the Cyprus government would pursue "a foreign policy of non-alignment". On his return to Cyprus, an officially-sponsored campaign began demanding the elimination of British bases from the island.
The Soviet arms failed to arrive. On March 30th., 1965 the ships carrying them to Cyprus under the agreement of October 1964 were diverted, as the result of a secret ultimatum from Washington.
Meanwhile, the Makarios government proceeded with its attempts to bring some degree of unification to the island. On November 28th., 1964 the House of Representatives approved a Bill establishing unified municipal councils in the principal towns. And in July 1965 it passed two further Bills: one abolished separate electoral registers; the other set up a Ministry of Education to take over one of the main functions of the Communal Chambers.
On October 11 th., 1965, in an effort to win over the Turkish Cypriot workers, peasants and urban petty bourgeoisie from their comprador bourgeois politicians, the Makarios government issued a "Declaration of,Minority Rights", promising autonomy for minorities in matters of education, culture and religion, together with reserved seats in the House of Representatives and local councils in proportion to population. The government of Turkey, claiming to speak for the Turkish Cypriot community, immediately denounced the declaration as - "unconstitutional" on the grounds that the Turkish Cypriot community constituted not a "minority" but a "national community with special rights".
By 1966 Greece had become a semi-colony of US imperialism,
and this position of dependence was reinforced by the military coup of
1967 which established a military dictatorship in Greece subservient to
US imperialism. From now on the demand of the Cypriot national bourgeoisie
(represented by the Makarios government) for national independence had
support of the mass of the Greek Cypriots, while enosis became the demand only of the pro-imperialist Greek Cypriot comprador bourgeoisie. At the Presidential election of February 1968 Makarios received of the votes, while his pro-enosis opponent, Takis Evdokas, received only 450'. In February 1973 Makarios was returned unopposed.
AND IT WAS IN THAT YEAR THAT THE PLAN TO OVERTHROW THE MAKARIOS GOVERNMENT BY FORCE AND TO CARVE UP THE ISLAND OF CYPRUS WAS AGREED UPON.
In its issue of May/June 1972 the then organ of the Marxist-Leninist Organisation of Britain summed up the plot of the US imperialists in relation to Cyprus:
The Plot is Put into Effect
So, on July 16th, on the orders of their Greek officers, units of the (Greek Cypriot)--National Guard, in full collaboration with EOKA-B and with the Greek troops stationed on the island, staged a military coup and established a military dictatorship over the part of the island outside the enclaves under the control of the Turkish Cypriot comprador bourgeoisie's "Transitional Administration". A new puppet "President" was installed, one Nicos Sampson, a curfew imposed and thousands of supporters of the Makarios government arrested.
The Greek government recognised its puppet regime almost immediately. while the Turkish government threatened that unless the situation in Cyprus were reversed it would order its troops to invade Cyprus under the Treaty of Guarantee.
For four days the US imperialists and their allies in London, not only took no action, they deliberately obstructed the calling of the Security Council of the United Nations which could have taken some action. As Lord Caradon put it bluntly in a letter to the press:
Later the same day, the US and British imperialists brought the Security Council into action, and it passed a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire on Cyprus. And Greece and Turkey -- despite being, according to the world press "on the verge of war" - dutifully obeyed.
As for the Soviet neo-imperialists, the calculations of Washington that they would do no more than issue a verbal protest proved accurate:
Karamanlis is mainly remembered for his role as Prime Minister in arranging the murder (and its subsequent cover-up) of rival politician Gregori Lambrakis (portrayed in the film "X"). While in exile in Paris, he was in June 1965 committed for trial by an investigating committee of the Greek Parliament for "bribery, dereliction of duty and maladministration".
Due to an unfortunate error, the "democratic revolution" in Athens was announced by US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger the day before it actually happened. Even the capitalist press was compelled to treat the "revolution" with some cynicism:
By a curious coincidence, another "democratic revolution" took place in Cyprus. The appalling Sampson stepped down and was replaced by the more respectable figure of Glafkos Clerides, President of the House of Representatives as "President" of Cyprus. Again the capitalist press treated the change cynically:
According to the present time-table the Tripartite Conference will convene on August 8th. to draw up a revised "Constitution" for Cyprus to fulfill the requirements of the now situation in the country". Then the representatives of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot comprador bourgeoisies Clerides and Denktash will be brought in and informed what has been decided.
But behind the three governments participating in the Tripartite Conference stands the directing hand of Washington:
"Support for partition has come chiefly from Washington and Athens, where there was dismay at the course an independent Cyprus steered under Archbishop Makarios. Partition would eliminate a neutralist regime, noted, for its openness to the Soviet Union, and bring two NATO powers directly on to the island". ("The Guardian", July 23rd., 1974; p. 3).
But even genuine national liberation will not solve the social problems of the Cypriot working people.
A publication of THE MARXIST-LENINIST ORGANISATION OF BRITAIN.
Originally listed as " Printed and published by: M.Baker, Camberwell, London".