Turkish-Cypriots – saved from genocide by Turkey’s 1974 intervention in 1974 – Pt 1

Just recently the naughty Financial Times in the UK had the temerity to publish an article which talked favourably of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus. It was swamped with complaints from Greeks or Greek-Cypriots, wailing about the horrible Turks intervening in Cyprus in 1974, ranting on about the dispossession of Greek-Cypriots (it cuts both ways – Greek-Cypriots lost their houses and possessions, so did Turkish Cypriots), and generally beating their breasts about how hard done by they are if there’s any positive coverage of North Cyprus.

This is typical of the snow job carried out by the Greeks and Greek-Cypriots since the Turkish invention to stop the genocide of Turkish-Cypriots in 1974.   Turkey supposedly occupied part of Cyprus illegally and had no right to land its troops and intervene in the internal situation.

And that is frankly a load of old cobblers. Turkey had the right to intervene in Cyprus by virtue of the Treaty of Guarantee between Turkey, Greece and United Kingdom. It did so when the Greek and UK governments refused to intervene in the continuing killings of Greek-Cypriots by Greek and Greek-Cypriot forces and Turkish Cypriots by Greek Cypriots and, eventually, Greek troops. To have not taken action would have enabled the Greek-Cypriot coup leaders to declare Enosis (Union) with Greece and thereby trigger an even greater international crisis and possibly war between Greece and Turkey.

And as an added bit of information, because the international community, ie, the Big Powers of Britain, US, USSR and United Nations chose to call the killings in Cyprus “ethnic cleansing” instead of genocide, the United Nations was not forced to intervene.

We live in North Cyprus, my husband lived here as a kid when his father served in the British Army, and he served here in the British Army in the ‘fifties. We have taken a keen interest in the true history of the Cyprus conflict and what you find is that when people find out the true facts behind the partition of Cyprus, they come down on the side of Turkish-Cypriots, who have been badly treated by the international community as well as by Greek-Cypriots and Greeks.

So my next blog will describe what life is really like here in North Cyprus at present.

The history of inter-communal violence in Cyprus is not pretty, but the Turkish-Cypriots who lived through those dark days deserve the truth to be known. And there’s a hell of a lot more to the story than the mawkish, self-pitying lies that have been spread by Greeks and Greek-Cypriots, to conceal the fact that when they decided to push for union with Greece they shot themselves well and truly in both feet and lost the war.

Map of Cyprus

The Financial Times article came as North Cyprus was celebrating the Turkish intervention in Cyprus in 1974.  This took place after the generals in Greece instituted a coup in Cyprus, to kill Archbishop Makario, round up his supporters, and kill or drive out of Cyprus any Turkish-Cypriots still resident on the island.

More than 3000 Greek supporters of Makarios were killed by their fellow countrymen (Greek-Cypriots, NOT Turkish-Cypriots) in the wake of the coup and civil war that followed. The generals installed a psychopathic killer, Nicos Sampson, as leader but it backfired. They had been counting on lack of action by the Turkish government but lost the bet, so to speak.

Makarios was to say to the United Nations Security Council: It was a [Greek] invasion that violated the independence and the sovereignty of the republic.”  And later in his speech: The [UN] Security Council should call upon the military regime of Greece to withdraw … and to put an end to its invasion of Cyprus.” And the commander of the Greek national contingent in 1974 later confessed to a Greek-Cypriot parliamentary committee that after the coup his orders were “to target Turkish Cypriot enclaves – not worry about any Turkish reaction.”

Going further back in time, there was a long history of tension between the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities.  My husband can remember the contempt with which Greek-Cypriot people regarded Turkish-Cypriots and his surprise when playing with Turkish kids that they were just the same as any other kids.  And the Turkish-Cypriots adults were friendly and decent too.

Without going into the whole history (which is a book in itself),  from the early 1950s, the National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA) began a violent campaign against British rule in April 1951. My husband has the greatest contempt for EOKA whose main claim to fame is its ability to shoot people in the back as its too gutless for face-to-face combat. The actions of EOKA, its stated aim of Enosis (union) with Greece and its hostility to Turkish-Cypriots led to the formation of the Turkish Resistance Movement in 1956.

British rule in Cyprus lasted until 1960 when the London-Zurich agreements created the Republic of Cyprus. Supposedly the rights of Turkish-Cypriots were to be guaranteed in this agreement but it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.  EOKA had no intention of co-existing with Turkish-Cypriots and in 1963 the slaughter of unarmed civilians by armed police and civilian forces at Gonyeli in Northern Nicosia heralded the start of continuing violence, killings, against Turkish-Cypriots who were driven into enclaves.

While EOKA existed among Greek-Cypriot nationalists, Turkish-Cypriots had also begun to arm and organise themselves as they understood that the intention of EOKA was to exterminate or drive out any Turkish-Cypriot inhabitants of Cyprus. So when armed conflict erupted in the wake of the 1974 coup, Greek-Cypriots found themselves facing well-armed Turkish-Cypriot contingents, who fought furiously to defend themselves and their communities against the planned genocide by the Greek contingents.

Kyrenia Habour 1
Girne (Kyrenia) Harbour, 2012

When Turkey requested Britain, as a signatory to the Treaty of Guarantee to take action to return Cyprus to its neutral status, and Britain refused (British MPs wanted the votes of Greek Cypriots in their various electorates), Turkish troops landed just before dawn near Girne (Kyrenia) and proceeded to advance into Cyprus.  Greek, British and US leaders had been counting on Turkey to either a) not intervene or b) send in troops at Famagusta which had good landing beaches. The landing in Altinkaya (or Five Mile Beach as it was then known) took the Greek Cypriots and others by surprise and, while the Turkish troops were advancing, the forces of Greek-Cypriots and Greek armed troops who had been flown in by Greece were busy trying to destroy  Turkish-Cypriot enclaves instead of organising against the advancing Turkish troops.

When a ceasefire was declared three days later, the Turkish military had not only protected Turkish-Cypriot communities, they also put an end to the civil war being waged between supporters of President Makarios and supporters of the coup. This is often overlooked because, in the ensuing years, Greek and Greek-Cypriot forces have been busy re-writing history to portray themselves as the oppressed instead of the oppressors.

In the wake of the Turkish intervention, the military coup collapsed and Sampson renounced the Greek presidency. In the ensuing talks, Turkey moved to ensure the second phase of its peace operation to secure control over 40% of Cyprus. The ceasefire line is commonly called the Green Line after Major General Young, the commander of the British peace keeping force, drew a ceasefire line on a map using a dark green crayon. The Cyprus Star reports: “On 13 February 1975 the Turkish Cypriots declared the areas controlled by them to be the Federated Turkish State and so almost 40 years off of separation was formalised”.

In the time since, the TRNC has been regarded as illegal by the international community and placed under an embargo.  This is an historic injustice which reflects badly on the international community and its refusal to stand up to the bullies in the Greek and Greek-Cypriot governments who have never forgiven Turkey for losing the war.

Greek and Greek-Cypriot governments have waged a continuing propaganda war to portray the existence of the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus as illegal; Turkey to be an illegal occupying power; Turkish troops raping and pillaging across North Cyprus; and various other lying pieces of propaganda. They have been successful because they have been able to rely on prejudices about Turkey being an Asian nation; being an Islamic nation; and good ol’ Greece is part of Europe. It managed to weasel Greek-Cyprus into the European Community and Eurozone. Technically speaking, the whole of Cyprus is part of the EC but the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, established on 15th November 1983, is still not recognised.

In the second part of this blog, I am going to look at what has happened in North Cyprus since 1974, how Turkish-Cypriots have coped with the economic embargo, and what North Cyprus is like now. I am indebted to the following sources for information:

The Genocide Files by Harry Scott Gibbons (I have read parts of this book but have to take my time because I have found it hard to handle the horrors perpetrated against Turkish-Cypriots by Greek-Cypriots).

The Cyprus Tapes by David Matthews

Various articles in The Cyprus Star newspaper

Various articles in the Cyprus Today newspaper.

You can also watch a video about the history of North Cyprus at the following link. It’s called Homeland but I haven’t been able to work out how to embed it:


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