Cyprus – Don’t Blame The British

Following the publication of an outstanding article in CYPRUS TODAY a leading North Cyprus newspaper recently, the author and local historian John Hughes-Wilson has asked cyprusscene.com to publish his article on the internet to ensure it has the opportunity of worldwide reading and sharing.



By John Hughes-Wilson…….

This July marks the 40th anniversary of the explosion that blew Cyprus and its problems onto the world’s headlines.  For once you can’t blame the British.  If you really want to look at the source of the problem all along, this time it’s the Greeks.

Of course, it’s hard to get at the truth. For example, the Observer recently carried a heart-rending article about the unhappy memories of some poor Greek teenager who Don't Blame The Britishspent July 1974 cowering in a hastily dug trench as “NATO’s biggest army rampaged overhead.” For the ‘right on’ London Liberals it was, as Greek propaganda has so effectively proclaimed for 40 years, “all Turkey’s fault.”

No, it wasn’t.

We have a real duty to nail that big fat Greek lie once and for all on this 40th anniversary of the Greek invasion and Coup to overthrow President Makarios. It was the Greeks that started it on the 15th of July 1974, forty years ago, when they tried to murder Cyprus’s elected President Makarios and his supporters at the behest of the Greek Junta in Athens.

Why did the Greeks do it?

To get an honest answer we have to go back to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War. The victorious Greeks pounced on Asia Minor – Turkey – greedy for what they regarded as the spoils of war. For a century since they had thrown the Ottomans out of Greece, Greeks had been fed on a propaganda diet of some great new Byzantine Empire in the Eastern Mediterranean. Now Athens saw its chance to create ‘Mega Hellas’ – ‘Greater Greece’ – in the Eastern Mediterranean, and invaded Turkey.

Ooops! The Turks were far from defeated. Instead they rose up under Ataturk and drove the Greek invaders from Turkish soil, utterly routed and abandoning Smyrna (now Izmir) in flames. In 1924 the new Turkey was enshrined in international law by the Treaty of Lausanne and the Greeks were for ever evicted from Asia Minor.

Casting around, Greek territorial ambitions now shifted to Cyprus, which the victorious British had annexed as a Crown Colony in 1925. Athens reasoned that it could turn the island into part of a Greater Greece by calling for ENOSIS – Union with Greece. That is precisely what had happened in Crete between the 1830s and 1922. A sizeable Turkish minority had been turfed out of Crete and the island, by then fully Greek, annexed by the Motherland.

However there were two problems with the Greek plan to annex Cyprus: first, the British were in charge. That was no great problem; the easy- going British colonial rulers could be harassed and intimidated by the Greek Cypriots. The Greek Cypriots set about their task with a will, with serious riots and even burning down the Governor General’s residence in 1931.

The second problem however was less easily dealt with. The Turkish minority on the island were reluctant to leave Cyprus.

Unlike the cowed Cretan Turks, most Turkish Cypriots were determined to stay, and were not going to be shoehorned out of their farms by their Greek neighbours. The communities polarised and, with an interruption for more important events between 1939 and 1945, in the late 1940s political hostilities were resumed, culminating in Archbishop Makarios’s swearing in as the Ethnarch of the Cypriot version of the Greek Orthodox Church in 1950.

Now, Makarios was a committed ENOSIS man. Indeed, he swore a second, very secret, oath on his inauguration. It was an oath that would dog him to the end of his days. Because Makarios swore that as the Head of the Greek Cypriot Orthodox Church he would do everything in his power to bring about ENOSIS, union with Greece.  This was a sacred, binding oath in the twilight world of Greek Cypriot politics, where the Greek Cypriot church still wields enormous political power.

We now know that Makarios kept his word. From the moment he became Ethnarch he worked tirelessly to bring about ENOSIS. The Greek terrorist motto of the early 1950s was, ‘First the British and then the Turks.’ With Makarios’s connivance an undercover military guerrilla group, EOKA, was formed under Colonel Grivas and in 1955 ruthlessly set about their campaign of murder and terrorism to force the British off the island.

By 1960 the war-weary Brits had had enough. At Zurich and London in 1960 Cyprus got its independence. The treaties were guaranteed by Britain, Greece and an increasingly suspicious Turkey. But ENOSIS was not forgotten; on the contrary, having got rid of the British, the advocates of ENOSIS now turned their malevolent attention on the Turkish minority population. It was time for a re-run of Crete.

The statistics for Crete tell their own grim story of Greek ethnic cleansing. In 1821, 47% of Cretans were Turks.  By 1920 that had shrunk to 7%: and in 1924 the rump Turkish population was forcibly deported to Turkey, leaving no more Turks on Crete. Makarios and his friends had just such a solution planned for getting rid of their Turkish Cypriot neighbours. It was called the ‘Akritas Plan’ and it was unadulterated ethnic cleansing.   The first step was at Christmas 1963, when Makarios announced a change to the Zurich Constitution to give the Greek Cypriots more power. The Turkish Cypriots objected and serious inter-communal violence broke out. Britain as a guarantor power flew in troops to keep the peace. Within months that had turned into UNFICYP and the frightened Turkish Cypriots withdrew into their enclaves.

For ten long years from 1964 to 1974 that was the situation on Cyprus: Turkish Cypriots huddling together for protection and building a secret resistance army to protect themselves; and Greek Cypriots claiming that they were the only real government on the increasingly polarised island and trying to get rid of the Turkish Cypriots once and for all.

Makarios then became the problem. He looked at the Greek Junta in power in Athens in the early 1970s and began to drag his feet over the whole idea of ENOSIS. He enjoyed strutting his stuff on the Cold War world stage as one of the leaders of the ‘non-aligned bloc.’ The idea of being tied to the petty gang of Fascist American puppets in Athens was never going to appeal to the egotistical ‘holy hypocrite.’ So Makarios broke his solemn ENOSIS oath, much to the fury of EOKA’s Grivas and his murderous thugs.

A new Greek civil war broke out between 1970 and 1974 as ‘EOKA B’ tried to murder Makarios and seize power with Athens’ support. Matters came to a head that hot July day in 1974 forty years ago when the Greek officers of the Greek Cypriot National Guard staged their infamous coup.

The coupists proclaimed the establishment of “The Hellenic Republic of Cyprus” and installed the ex-EOKA gunman Nicos Samson, who had been responsible for murdering many British and Turkish Cypriots in the 1950s, as the president of the “Cypriot Hellenic Republic”.

In the next five days, more than 3,000 Greek Cypriot supporters of Makarios and the Communist party AKEL were killed in an orgy of Greek on Greek blood-letting. At the same time Samson gave the notorious Akritas plan full rein to exterminate Turkish Cypriots ‘once and for all’.

Britain did nothing. Not so the Turks. Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit flew to London and begged British Prime Minister Harold Wilson to intervene. Wilson puffed his pipe, made airy excuses, and played for time. PM Eçevit ordered Turkey to intervene as a Guarantor Power to separate the combatants and restore peace.

On 20 July 1974 the first Turkish Marines splashed ashore, perfectly legally, as both Makarios at the UN and the Greek High court later acknowledged.  The rest, as they say, is history. But you won’t read about this story in Greek Cypriot schoolbooks.

Forty years on, facts are facts.

Blame the Greeks.

30 replies »

  1. Greek propaganda always helped by the Europeans and “Hate the Turk” campaign continues today. It is the same saga in the so called “Armenian genocide” story !!! It is only the honest historians like yourself John Hughes -Wilson that tells it as is. Thanks for your effort John Thanks for bringing us the story Cyprus Scene.

    • Thanks oxolobs for your support. Through articles like this we are slowly but surely moving in the right direction and the more articles like this are shared the greater the opportunities of changing world understanding of the truth of the Cyprus problem.

  2. Slowly the world is realising the truth ! Sadly the the Turkish Cypriots don’t fight it’s corner enough

  3. But… One BIG problem that I have with this article is the title ‘DON’T BLAME THE BRITISH’ From my recent research I’ve come to realise that it was the Brits that promulgated and even initiated the divisive factors in Cyprus. 1936 governor of Cyprus “…Eoka in time will weaken and Cypriot nationalism will take its place… in order to extend our presence in C we must delay Cypriot nationalism…”

  4. The title perhaps should have been “Don’t blame the Turks”.

    I would not challenge much in the content of the article, but I think it does omit quite a few other relevant facts that might have made it a bit more balanced.

    Cyprus had been under the Ottoman ‘yoke’ for hundreds of years before it became a British colony. As such it’s people were milked by heavy taxes and what was once the most wealthy island in the Med, became impoverished. Although Christians were permitted under the Milet system to practice their religion and represented by their Patriarch, the majority Christian Community were significantly discriminated against. Some of the more ambitious converted to Islam in order to escape the taxes and restrictions on their opportunities.

    The Orthodox Christian Community always feared the return of ‘Turkish’ rule, even though the Ottoman empire had collapsed and the country fallen under a British Governorship.

    Their fears remain understandable. The article mentions Smyrna which in 1922 was sacked by the Turkish forces of ‘Kemil Attaturk’. Appalling atrocities were committed by the Turkish troops who were recovering territory that the Greek invaders had overrun just months before, leaving devastation in their wake too. A wonderful rich city was almost completely destroyed and all the Christians were either killed or burnt out. Anyone interested in reading about it should get hold of “Paradise Lost” by Giles Milton.

    There were other reasons to fear the Ottoman Turks; the Armenian massacre for instance (although this remains a contentious matter).

    Long ago the conquest of Cyprus itself by the Ottomans was a bloody affair involving unspeakable cruelty by the conquerors on the fall of Nicosia and Famagusta. In the 19C the Ottoman rulers slaughtered the Patriarch and his bishops, looted the churches, cleared Limassol of Christians and destroyed their houses.

    Although such hideous events are history, they have left a mark, and modern day Turkey may still worry many with it’s Islamic influences and violent politics. It is not very encouraging to see scenes of brawling politicians in parliament.

    The president and Patriarch Makarios may have been involved in the drafting of the risible ‘Akritas’ plan together with his ministers, but he certainly jumped the gun by failing to secure the repeal of the treaties of Guarantee and Alliance, before attempting to force through amendments to the constitution. His precipitate action provoked a Turkish response that led to the ‘invasion’ under the auspices of the Treaty of Guarantee, eleven years later.

    The writer describes the Akritas plan as ‘unadulterated ethnic cleansing’, but that is not born out by a reading of the English translations of the document that I have seen. It would appear to be an absurd secret briefing document and plan, dreamt up by Makarios and his cronies to overturn the terms of the constitution established by the London and Zurich agreements, deal with the certain Turkish response and ultimately use the new power acquired to proclaim union with Greece. There is no mention of anything like ethnic cleansing, although it is interesting in that it shows the extent of self delusion of those in government.

    The secret plan was inevitably leaked to the press and, assuming its authenticity,revealed the duplicitous nature of the Greek ministers to all.

    In this context, however, it does seem that the later establishment of the Attila line and the subsequent ethnic segregation was part of a plan to establish a separate state in what was the most prosperous part of the island. In any event, Turkey was not going to allow Cyprus to follow the example of wholesale ethnic cleansing in Crete.

    Even so, one must remember that the constitution established in 1960 by the London and Zurich agreements was always going to lead to problems. The Turkish minority interest was protected by disproportionate representation, causing resentment amongst the Christian or ‘Greek’ majority.

    Makarios probably felt that all Cypriots should be Orthodox Christian. If he did hold with such a view, it was not compatible with peace in Cyprus. The island was affected by many factors and he tried to play them all: Foreign interests (USA, GB, Greece, Turkey, Russia/SU), Fascists, Communists, Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriots, Church and Islam.

    At different times he used those opposed to each other; ultimately his leanings may have been to the left and to an Orthodox hegemony. Most of his congregation still supported him, but he became seen as a problem by the forces of the right and the Greek Junta.

    His support for Enosis waned once Greece fell under the control of his fascist one time friends, now enemies. As the article says it was their attempt to assassinate him and usurp the state that triggered the Turkish ‘intervention’ of 1974.

    Nevertheless, mutual fear probably still afflicts relations between and within the two communities. It is difficult to see how trust could be fostered, even now.

    Those in the TRNC are right to be suspicious as long as Church and State are entwined. Ironically that is a legacy of the Ottoman period.

    The Orthodox Christian community will continue to fear their powerful neighbour’s violent history and any attempt recreate the sort of power sharing that failed in the past. They will press for property restitution and the expulsion of a significant proportion of the Turkish population in the North.

    Not very promising really.

  5. This is a crucial historical account, basically the Cyprus problem in a nutshell, which is often buried in many “official” records. It’s a very good article and people need to pay attention.

  6. The future of Cuprus lies with the children– ALL of the children. Growing up to be Cypriots should be their aim. As a Brit I’ve always wondered at the description ‘Italian Americans’ or ‘Irish Americans’. Stop that idea NOW in Cyprus. Children often have more common sense than their elders, they are not weighed down by history. Be proud to be a Cypriot.

    • Thank you David for your comment. The problem in Cyprus is that history has been hidden or distorted to a point where the children and youth of today may never understand what the problem is all about.

  7. As a Turkish citizen, I blame Turkey for the unnecessarily long delay in reaching an acceptable compromise in Cyprus in the aftermath of 1974 intervention. Successive Turkish governments have failed to grasp the true gravity of the Cyprus issue, and clearly chose to ignore practical solutions. By now, Cyprus could have transformed into a peaceful & bountiful 2-state federation

  8. British themselves confessed their crime against Cyprus by their Minister of Foreign office Kalahan who confessed that they let the turkish invasion to be done in order to succed the division of Cyprus. Read history and the papers of foreign office!!! Your propaganda against Greeks is poor and unprooved!!!

    • Thank you for your comment Anna and if you are demanding the TRUTH be told, then you should start by accepting what President Makarios said to the UN on 19th July 1974.

      How could Turkey invade Cyprus on 20th July 1974 if it had already been invaded by Greece. The TRUTH is Turkey intervened when others did not want to help.

      Please read the following and understand what really happened:

      Cyprus, a call for help to the UN from Makarios on 19th July 1974

      on Turkish Republic of North Cyprus

      MAKARIOS: “… It may be said that it was the Cyprus Government which invited the Greek officers to staff the National Guard. I regret to say that it was a mistake on my part to bestow upon them so much trust and confidence. They abused that trust and confidence and, instead of helping in the defense of the Island’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, they themselves became the aggressors… the events in Cyprus do not constitute an internal matter of the Greeks of Cyprus. The Turks of Cyprus are also affected…The Security Council should call upon the military regime of Greece to withdraw from Cyprus the Greek officers serving in the National Guard, and to put an end to its invasion of Cyprus…”

      To read more please click here

  9. Please check history how England get the Cyprus from Ottoman settled the greeks . But nobody talks about this 99 years lease .

    • Formation of Cyprus – Wikipedia says:

      “Cyprus was a territory of the Ottoman Empire, lastly as part of the Vilayet of the Archipelago, since it was conquered from the Republic of Venice in 1570-71.

      A British protectorate under Ottoman suzerainty was established over Cyprus by the Cyprus Convention of 4 June 1878, following the Russo-Turkish War, in which the British occupied the island as a consequence of the Ottoman Empire’s actions throughout the duration of the war. Cyprus was then proclaimed a British protectorate and was integrated into the British Empire. This remained in place until November 1914, when after the Ottomans joined the Central Powers, in turn entering World War I, Britain declared the complete annexation of Cyprus into the British Empire, albeit under a military administration status. The colony of British Cyprus was proclaimed a decade later, in 1925, after Britain’s annexation of Cyprus was verified twice, firstly in the Treaty of Sevres in 1920, then confirmed again in the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.”

      As for the 99 year lease given by the Ottomans to the British and the islands annexation, perhaps the Turks will have learned from the mistakes of the Ottomans and the future of Cyprus is still to be decided by those interested parties.

  10. Dear friends Margaret and Chris you have brought to light that TRUTH will always and eventually prevail.

    In the meantime, by the time TRUTH was accepted, of the Cypriot Turkish people either half of them got killed or forced to emigrate to different lands and still the Turks are getting the guilty blame and the world is not caring in case they offend their spoilt Greek friends.

    They don’t come straight out and tell the TRUTH to their faces however JOHN HUGHES- WILSON found the best way to enlighten some of the world to the TRUTH because even if God came and pointed out the Greeks Mistakes, in their Eyes he will be wrong as well.

    In the mean time thank you Cyprusscene, yourselves and of course the writer Mr. John Hughes – Wilson as it is a Fantastic and Truthful Article.

    • Thank you John for your kind words of support and we hope one day many more people will come to understand your quest to have the TRUTH of the CYPRUS PROBLEM understood and learned from.

  11. A balanced and insightful resume of a complicated history. My seven years in Cyprus living close to the “Green line” in the NW taught me that entrenched opinions on both sides, often based on half truths, will sadly, make it very difficult for this beautiful Island to be reunited. I hope I am wrong.

  12. Turkey was right to ‘invade’ to protect Turkish Cypriots. Unfortunately the general management of north Cyprus has made them appear to be very oppressive. They have always recognised the benefits of tourism in Turkey, yet have failed abysmally to do the same in Cyprus. Probably because military men are in charge and soldiers instead of police are the enforcers.

    • You are right mansonuk1, Turkey had every right to intervene on 20th July 1974 as Britain did not respond to their request for help and also President Makarios made a speech to the UN on 19th July 1974 saying that Cyprus had been invaded by Greece.
      to read the full speech click here

      As for the situation in North Cyprus, it is perhaps one of the most peaceful places on God’s earth which is maintained not by the UN but the Turkish forces buffer zone and presence and they leave control of law and order in the hands of the TRNC authorities.

      Finally you seem to be forgetting the International Embargoes which prevent direct flights to the TRNC and this is perhaps the biggest hurdle for the TRNC to overcome if they are really going to improve the tourism industry.

      Look out for more about tourism in the TRNC in the weeks ahead on cyprusscene.com.

  13. Your list of readers is very telling. More people read you in China than in Greece!!

    • Thank you for you for your observations masonuk1 and you are correct, but when you look at the larger picture the Greek Cypriots are our third highest reader followed by USA.

      Considering that the RoC have no interest or acceptance of the TRNC, they are taking the time to follow our news.

      Cyprusscene readers at Aug 2016

  14. Nice article well put. Having lived through the event, on the island, I can concur with the facts as stated. Nice to read the true story for once!

  15. Thank for all. Thank to read (as suggested by kyreniacommentator here above) the speech of Makarios to the UN.Then we have a better understanding of what happened and why Turkish army enter to Cyprus. Who knows this speech and this reality in Europe…