Greek coup in Cyprus wrecked our honeymoon and changed our lives for ever

The 15th July in Cyprus in both Turkish and Greek Cypriot communities, there would have been mixed recollections of those days when there was a Greek inspired coup to overthrow the government of the Republic of Cyprus.

President Makarios appealed to the UN on the 19th July appealing for help after the invasion of Cyprus by Greece and as history tells us, Turkey launched their intervention operation when Great Britain as the third guarantor power declined to help Turkey stop the communal fighting and killings.

There was great sadness at this time and we have received this account from Demetra George Mustafaoğlu, Miss Oklahoma, Grammy List Nominee and Cultural Diplomat from US State Department.

Demetra and Mehmet on their wedding day on 1st June 1974

“On that day of our honeymoon years ago a Greek coup in Cyprus erupted.

The family home was on the Green Line and we were caught right in the middle of it. Imagine waking up to machine gunfire and mortar fire while bullets sang out pinging the TV antenna! I took out my US flag souvenirs I had brought as gifts, put on shorts and shoved them in my hip pockets in the event we were captured. We crawled on the floor for 3 days to avoid the crossfire. Baykan Anne, (Mehmet’s mom) cooked and his little sister Alev and I crawled out to feed the Turkish Cypriot soldiers in foxholes in the yard.

As the coup ramped up and it became too dangerous to stay, we moved to Grandma Zehra’s house. Watching TV for news each night, I fell in love with the last thing I heard, the Istiklal Marsi and I was determined to learn to sing it. I did and still do internationally and it’s a beautiful and grand anthem. I cried and cried on my husband’s chest thinking I might die on foreign soil and never see family and home again! Dad Mustafa, a policeman recommended we make a dash for the airport to depart the ever increasing battle. We put my flags on the car like diplomats do and raced off. Though we were stopped and searched by mainland Greek soldiers, we arrived safely at the airport forgetting I was carrying 2 live souvenir bullets in my purse from Mehmet’s cousin!

Yikes! Hordes of clamouring  tourists were trying to escape the coup. I even met people with Phillips Oil Co. of Oklahoma my home state attempting to leave. Finally at the counter, the government refused to allow Mehmet to depart as all Cypriots were being enlisted to fight. Mehmet told them he was a Turkish Cypriot and would be fighting against the Greeks so they should allow his departure. NO was the response so in my opera voice I started shouting for the American Embassy to be called and that I wanted to flee with my husband. Minutes later, decibels higher, the management relented saying they wanted no trouble with the US.

It was so late at this point and lines of passengers had vanished and fate gave us the last 2 seats off the island but they were on a flight to Beirut instead of towards the west. Our other choice was sleep at the airport and try again the following day to find a flight heading towards Europe. Good, we chose to immediately depart. Early the following morning Turkey, just 40 miles away, landed troops to save the Turkish Cypriot population and stop the army of Greece, 600 miles away, from taking the island and exterminating the Turkish population. We’d most likely would not have survived as the airport was flattened. We landed in Beirut and phoned the family of our best man Imad Farha who came to retrieve and host us for 4 days until we could sculpt a plan of return and we were forever grateful to them.

In the meantime we listened with bated breath to reports of Turkey’s landing which it did via the rules of the Cyprus constitution but was framed as an invasion only because they are not Christians but rather modern Moslems. Unbelievable for all of these years people have called it an invasion for truly it was HEAVEN SENT after years of conflict and hushed annihilation in Turkish Cypriot villages. We managed to catch a Pan Am flight with connections home and an hour after we departed Beirut, an ambassador was assassinated at the Pan Am counter where we had nervously been waiting to leave!!! We were worried about Mehmet’s family as we flew and were biting our nails until we arrived in Oklahoma City and it was a very harrowing time. Finally home, I immediately knelt down and kissed the ground.

So don’t let anyone tell you stories. This is how it happened. GREED is why it happened. TURKEY had a constitutional right to restore peace and save its population. I’m sorry for all who suffered, died, lost loved ones and property. Warmongers the world over make everyone suffer. Man is guilty of this deadly sin. I thank God we survived. I’m sad that the Republic of Cyprus can’t negotiate a fair solution or even apologize before God to this country for the suffering it caused.

Like a spoiled child it just walks away with its toys to play another day but now, ALONE.

With great sadness,

Demetra George Mustafaoğlu”

2 replies »

  1. A heartbreaking account of an American /Turkish Cypriot couple who were caught on the cross fire of the events of 1974.

    The more i learn about the cypriot conflict, the more i realize, We cannot judge the turkish Cypriot families who ended up in a state of diaspora. If you were unarmed, faced with a situation where bullets are flying in your direction- perhaps you would take any opportunity to leave your country. This is not a choice. This is survival. The unfortunate fact is, there are now more Turkish Cypriots abroad than in their own country.

    I make no secret of my patriotism for my country. But if I found myself in such circumstance – happily I would stay and die for my country- but I’d send -not just one child- but every member of my family to the end of the earth to save their lives.