Dr William Mallinson


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Neolithic Age (8200-3900 B.C.)
Chalcolithic Age (3900-2500 B.C.)
Bronze Age (2500-1050 B.C.)
Competing Influences (1050-333 B.C.)
From Alexander the Great to the Romans

Byzantine Era (330-1191 A.D.)
Frankish Period (1192-1489)

Venetian Rule (1489-1571)
Ottoman Rule (1571-1878)
Greek Independence
British Rule (1878-1960)
The Liberation Movement
Independence: The Republic of Cyprus (1960)
The 1963-4 Crisis
The 1967 Crisis
Intercommunal Negotiations (1968-1974)
The Turkish Invasion (1974)
EU Accession (2004)
Present and Future
To Conclude


Dr William Mallinson


The history of Cyprus, the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, is among the oldest in the world. The first signs of civilization, traced through archaeological excavations, date back to the 9th millennium B.C., covering 11.000 years.

Geography has been perhaps the major determining factor in the development of the island throughout its history, at one and the same time a blessing and a curse. Strategically located at the crossroads of three continents (Africa, Asia, and Europe), and of major civilizations, Cyprus has been conquered by powers that dominated the eastern Mediterranean at various periods. At the same time, it has managed to assimilate various cultural influences through its multifaceted interaction with neighboring countries. As a result, this small, modern European state has developed its own unique character, harmoniously blending various civilizations.

According to mythology, Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love and beauty, was born from the foam of the sea on the southwestern coast of Cyprus, near the city of Pafos. This booklet provides an overview of the long history of the “island of Aphrodite,” giving the reader a glimpse of its remarkable historical development and of the seminal events that have influenced its political, cultural, social and economic transformation.
The Editor


It was a Cypriot, Zeno of Kition, who introduced the stoic way of life to the world when he expounded his ideas in Athens some 2.300 years ago. Islanders have a reputation for resilience of character, and Cyprus is no exception, having developed from a Stone Age settlement to a modern and thriving European Union state, despite numerous hurdles along the way. Throughout the millennia, the same human characteristics and behavior have tended to manifest themselves periodically, albeit with different colors. This is particularly evident in the case of Cyprus, where outside interests have so often met and where, even today, the complex interplay of external cultures and Cypriot stoicism have resulted in a vibrant and dynamic society that has learned to cope with the problems of today’s world realistically and prudently. As we now sketch the evolution of this intriguing island, the European Union’s south-eastern nose, we shall detect a living continuity of character that has transcended the whirlwind of current affairs.


Cyprus, like Crete, has one of the world’s oldest recorded histories, and as such is an archaeologist’s paradise. It was during ancient times that the Greek language and culture of the island was permanently established. Although the mists of time have partially obscured the earliest days, when the Pelasgians were active, we can divide, and briefly describe, the following periods.

Neolithic Age (8200–3900 B.C.)
The number of settlements built of stone bears testimony to the island’s importance, even at the dawn of known history. The most ancient settlement so far discovered, at Choirokitia, dates from 5800 B.C., although the first signs of civilization can even be dated back to the 9th millennium. The Neolithic period culminated with the beginning of major colonization, particularly from Palestine, with settlers probably drawn by the discovery of copper, which led to the eponymous Chalcolithic age.

Chalcolithic Age (3900–2500 B.C.)
With the development of the copper, and then bronze, industry, and further influx of settlers, Cyprus became a leading commercial centre and exporter. Towards the end of this period, Egyptian influence was making itself felt, and trade with Egypt, and Crete in particular, flourished.

Bronze Age (2500–1050 B.C.)
Cyprus now began to develop its copper, bronze and pottery industries apace, becoming an important exporter. Towards the end of this period, Greeks established themselves, a presence which would come to permanently characterize the island. The main causes were the end of the Trojan wars and the collapse of the Hittite empire, when many Mycenaean Greeks decided to settle in Cyprus, at a time of considerable socio-political turbulence and mass population movements westwards. Of the various city-states in Cyprus, Salamis and Pafos became pre-eminent. The arrival of the Dorians in Greece did not have an immediate effect on Cyprus.

Competing Influences (1050–333 B.C.)
The Greek culture of the island now came to be further enriched by external events. First came a wave of Phoenicians, settling at Kition, many of whom were escaping from the later Assyrian push into the Lebanon. Gradually, the various city-states of Cyprus came under Assyrian, Egyptian and Persian domination respectively. In terms of everyday life, and whatever the problems engendered by foreign domination, the old Mycenaean culture dominated, although trade and other contacts with the Greek mainland and other Greek lands in Asia Minor meant some blending with Ionian Greek culture. As in some parts of the Greek world, such as Sparta, some Cypriot city-states initially supported the Persians. In these troubled times of Persian pressure, two factors impinged on Cyprus: the tendency of the Phoenician-dominated areas to support the Persians, and political ambition. For example, the King of Salamis, Evelthon (c.560–525 B.C.), played a balancing game between Egyptian and Persian interests, issuing coinage which, while displaying Egyptian and Persian signs, nevertheless included the first two letters of Cyprus. Following years of political wrangling between pro-Greek and pro-Persian factions, during which King Evagoras I of Salamis played a leading role in supporting the Athenians, the Persians finally imposed their authority, until Alexander the Great freed Cyprus in 333 B.C., as part of his dismantling of the Persian Empire.

From Alexander the Great to the Romans
With Alexander’s untimely death in 323 B.C., and the concomitant division of his empire, Cyprus became embroiled in the competing interests of Alexander’s generals, before falling into the arms of the dynasty established in Egypt by the general Ptolemy. This marked the beginning of the Ptolemaic rule in Cyprus (294–58 B.C.) during which the ten kingdoms of Cyprus were abolished and, for the first time, Cyprus was ruled as a unitary state. For some two hundred and fifty years, the island enjoyed a measure of political stability. Arts and philosophy flourished in Hellenistic Cyprus, given the love of the Ptolemies for Greek culture. Zeno of Kition (336–264 B.C.), the most prominent Cypriot philosopher, established his own school of philosophy in Athens, which was later to exert widespread influence on Roman philosophy. Cypriots also excelled in medicine and sculpture.

In the last stages of Ptolemaic rule, Roman intervention in Cyprus became frequent. This led to the first Roman occupation (58–38 B.C.) and eventually to the final Roman takeover in 30 B.C., and to a period of peace and prosperity which, in Cyprus as elsewhere, came to be known as the Pax Romana.

Christianity was introduced in Cyprus in 45 A.D. by the apostles Paul and Barnabas. During their visit to the island, accompanied by Mark the Evangelist, they organized the Church and appointed bishops. Apostle Barnabas, the founder of the Church of Cyprus, returned later to the island and became Bishop of Salamis. The Roman peace was only seriously marred by the ripple effect of the Jewish revolt in Palestine, Egypt and Cyrenaica, during the reign of Hadrian. It was a catastrophic event, during which tens of thousands were killed, and was solved only by harsh and decisive Roman action. In 269 A.D., the Goths invaded Cyprus, but failed to establish themselves.


Well before Rome’s final fall in 476 A.D., Cyprus had lost its direct administrative link, when Diocletian’s division of the empire into East and West had resulted in Cyprus being administered from Antioch, an arrangement which continued until Constantinople became the new capital in 330 A.D.

Byzantine Era (330–1191 A.D.)
In the Byzantine era, Cyprus shared with the rest of the Hellenic world the same Christian and Greek culture and heritage. It was during this period that major monasteries and churches, many of which survive to this day, were built. Some are decorated with unique and superb frescoes and icons that have attracted worldwide attention and study.

The transition from the Dark to the Middle Ages witnessed the Church of Cyprus becoming “Autocephalous” in 488, courtesy of the Byzantine Emperor. The Church was granted self-government, including the ability to choose its own leader. In addition, its leader, the Archbishop, was granted special privileges: to sign in red ink like the Byzantine emperors; to carry a royal scepter instead of the usual pastoral staff; and to be dressed in a red cloak. This development marked the beginning of a unique tradition of responsibility for the Church in the island’s political affairs. Towards the end of the Dark Ages in Europe, Cyprus came under almost constant attack from Moslem Arabs, who were not finally expelled until 965, by Byzantine Emperor Nicephoros Phocas.

As the (Eastern) Roman–Byzantine Empire came to terms with new rivals in the form of the Franks and later the Crusaders, Cyprus’ leaders occasionally questioned Constantinople’s authority, continuing what had now become a tradition of asserting one’s independence. One such independent–minded leader was the Emperor’s nephew, Isaac Comnenus, who set himself up as Emperor of Cyprus (a tyrant resented by both the Cypriots and the Byzantine authorities), only to be captured by Richard the Lionheart in 1191, in revenge for having treated the latter’s shipwrecked fiancée discourteously. Richard then sold the island to the Knights Templar who, under attack from the local population, resold it to Richard, who in turn sold it on to another crusader, Guy de Lusignan, in 1192.

Frankish Period (1192–1489)
Thus began the Frankish period, which was to last almost three hundred years. The feudal system introduced by Richard continued to be imposed by the Franks, as was the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church in Cyprus. Under the Lusignan dynasty, Cyprus was independent, but the local Greek population did not have a great say in running matters. Apart from the struggle to maintain Christian Orthodoxy, most of the population was reduced to the status of vassals, while only the richer merchants were classed as full citizens. Notwithstanding the western European systems introduced, the economy flourished, thanks chiefly to an influx of Amalfians, Genoese, Pisans, Venetians and other Italians.

The fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks marked the end of the Middle Ages and for Cyprus the transition from the rigidly feudal Franks to the powerful Venetian Empire, at a time when the Ottoman Turks were beginning to threaten western and eastern Europe, having already conquered much of mainland Greece and the Balkans.

Venetian Rule (1489–1571)
Venetian commercial and political pressure proved stronger than both the dying Lusignan dynasty and the competing Genoese and Pisans (Genoa had even ruled Famagusta for a number of years). The wily Venetians arranged for a Venetian noblewoman, Ekaterina Kornaro, to marry the Lusignan James II. Were James to die childless, then Cyprus would pass to Venice. A son was born, but died in infancy, and Cyprus fell under the control of Venice, which took over finally when Ekaterina abdicated in 1489.

When Venice took formal control of Cyprus, much of mainland Greece had been under Ottoman Turkish occupation for some one hundred years. The defense of the eastern Mediterranean had passed from Byzantium to Venice, and owing to the Ottoman threat, Venice invested heavily in building up Cyprus, which became one of the most important Christian bastions in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially after the Ottomans had taken Rhodes and Chios from the Knights of St. John and from Genoa respectively. Although during Venetian rule the population had to bear a measure of economic hardship, conditions were nevertheless sufficiently kind to lead to a doubling of the population, while, like Crete and the Ionian islands, it enjoyed stability, marred only by an Ottoman raid on Limassol and a heavy-handed attempt by the Roman Catholic Church to impose its form of theology on Christian Orthodoxy.

As the sixteenth century wore on, the Ottomans continued to expand westwards, and it was only a matter of time before they would attack Cyprus en masse, and the atmosphere in heavily fortified Famagusta must have been similar to that in Constantinople during the last years of the Byzantine Empire.

In 1570, Nicosia fell after a six week siege, with the defenders being slaughtered. The following year marked the final transfer of Cyprus from Christian European to Moslem Asian rule: after a one year siege, the Famagusta garrison commander, Bragadino, surrendered on condition that the members of his garrison would be allowed to leave. However, the deal was not honored, and the Ottoman Turks killed the garrison and cut off Bragadino’s nose and ears, skinning him alive two weeks later. Italian influence and rule did however bequeath a commercial and intellectual Cypriot diaspora, particularly in Venice and at the University of Padova.

Ottoman Rule (1571–1878)
The Ottomans, who controlled Cyprus for three hundred and seven years, introduced two measures, which were to have a long-lasting effect, one positive and the other negative. First, they introduced the millet system to Cyprus (as elsewhere), which allowed the Church of Cyprus to run its own affairs, and which put an end to the constant pressure of the Roman Catholic Church on Christian Orthodoxy. Indeed, at the end of Ottoman rule, the Church of Cyprus was, in a way, in a stronger position than it had been for hundreds of years. However, as the Ottoman Empire declined and lost power, its rule in Cyprus became brutal and corrupt.

The second measure was the settling of thousands of Ottoman Turks on the island. These included many janissaries (from yeni çeri = new soldier), the elite guards of the Sultan, many of whom were Greeks and Slavs, who had been taken as young children, proselytized and given intense military training. Thus, the original Moslem population of Cyprus is not of purely Turkish stock. In addition, a small number of Christian Orthodox and Roman Catholics are said to have converted to the Moslem religion, to avoid the high taxation and lower social status. Forced conversions to Islam followed the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence in 1821. Some people have drawn an analogy between Ireland and Cyprus, since at around the same time, as the demographic balance of Cyprus was being altered, Scottish and other Protestants were moving into Roman Catholic Ireland. The main parallel that can be drawn is that in both cases demographic manipulation was to become a major problem in later years, and is still there today.

The Ottoman period was reasonably uneventful, apart from occasional protests, usually about the high taxation imposed by the Ottomans. Some events need to be mentioned, since they demonstrate both Cyprus’ attractiveness as a strategic possession, and the effects of heavy taxation. In 1605, the Duke of Savoy claimed Cyprus through his dynastic connection to Ekaterina Kornaro, and invaded. His forces were massacred. In 1765, the Grand Vizier in Constantinople actually agreed with Greek arguments that they were being too highly taxed by the Ottoman governor of Cyprus, Cil Osman. When the latter was suspected of trying to kill (by arranging for a floor to collapse) those invited to hear the Vizier’s proclamation reducing the taxes, Christian and Moslem alike cut him to pieces.

An uprising in 1804 was a less clear-cut affair that has been likened to a revolution. Franco-British-Russian interests were clashing in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Russians had dramatically increased their influence in the Ottoman Empire through the treaty of Küçük Kainardji in 1774, whereby Russia had become the protector of the Christian Orthodox. Hadjigeorgakis Kornesios, the Dragoman (a kind of referee between the subject population and the Sultan), gained increased power by being appointed for life by the Sultan. Napoleon’s France, worried about the Dragoman’s allegedly pro-Russian policy, fed the tensions, and there was a revolt against both the Dragoman and the Archbishop (who worked closely with the former). When the Dragoman convinced the Sultan to suppress the revolt, France pressurized the Sultan into performing a U-turn, resulting in the Dragoman’s execution. The whole confused affair was the result of the self-interested policy of the great powers at a time when the Ottoman Empire was beginning its slow descent into oblivion. Certain parallels can be drawn today, at least in terms of the interests that some foreign powers maintain in Cyprus.

Greek Independence
As in 1804, 1821 was to prove yet more significant, in that the nationalist movements set in train by the French Revolution and cleverly exploited by Napoleon Bonaparte, were now finding expression through the Balkans and the Greek world, whether the areas were controlled by Ottomans or Austro-Hungarians, both of whom had now come to an accommodation for controlling their respective areas, with British support. The Church of Cyprus was understandably reticent about giving overt support to the Greeks, with the Ottomans so well entrenched in Cyprus and far nearer to Anatolia than to the Greek mainland. Suspecting that covert efforts were being made from the outside to incite the Greeks of Cyprus to revolt against the Ottomans, the Sultan sent reinforcements to Cyprus and approved the execution of nearly five hundred elders. The Archbishop and a number of leading churchmen were hung or beheaded, after which there was a round of further killings.

During the struggle for Greek independence, even those parts of the Greek world, such as Cyprus, that were too far from the mainland to defeat the Ottomans, could not remain unscathed, and various massacres occurred, such as on the island of Chios, epitomized in the famous painting by Delacroix, that so enraged public opinion in Europe. At any event, Cyprus, like other islands, became part of the Megali Idea (Great Idea), the objective of which was to unite all Greeks. When the Ottomans relinquished power in Cyprus, they bequeathed a strong Church which was to play a leading role in the quest for independence from the new rulers and in the enosis (union) movement with Greece.

British Rule (1878–1960)
As so often in the past, it was great power rivalry and strategic ambition that led to Cyprus changing hands yet again. Britain’s main motive in acquiring the island in 1878 was to combat Russian influence in the Mediterranean and to protect its route to India; in the words of the renowned historian A.J.P. Taylor, Cyprus was obtained as a “place d’armes, and to watch over an unstable Anatolia.” Unlike the Ottoman conquest in 1571, the British takeover was in essence a smooth and backstage operation, angering in particular France, which itself had designs on Cyprus. Britain, but in particular its Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, was concerned about the Russian victory over the Ottomans in 1877, which increased Russian influence in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially by creating a large independent and pro-Russian Bulgaria. Thus, at the Congress of Berlin the following year, where the British tried to weaken Russian influence, they signed a secret agreement with the Ottomans, whereby they would rent Cyprus from the Ottomans, in return for protecting the latter against Russia. Rather than pay the Ottomans, however, Britain simply wrote off part of the crumbling Ottoman Empire’s debts.

When the British commander, Wolsey, arrived on 22 July 1878 to take possession of the island, the Bishop of Kition referred in his speech of welcome to how the British had ceded the Ionian islands to Greece (some fourteen years before), thus putting down a marker for union with Greece. The British administration granted the local population a greater degree of autonomy than previously enjoyed, in the form of a legislative council consisting of Christian Orthodox, British officials and Moslems. The Moslems and British officials balanced the Christian Orthodox, with the casting vote going to the British High Commissioner. This was sometimes an irritant for the Christian Orthodox element of the population, since their wishes could be frustrated by a minority of 18 percent of the population, supported by the colonial power.

In 1914, following the Ottoman Empire’s entry into the First World War on the side of Germany, Britain annexed Cyprus, and then offered it to Greece, provided that the latter entered the war against Germany. By the time Greece joined in 1917 (following the victory of the Venizelists over the government of the King), the offer had been withdrawn. Under the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923, the new Republic of Turkey ceded Cyprus to Britain and renounced all claims over territories under its former jurisdiction. In 1925, Britain declared Cyprus a Crown Colony. Cyprus’ fate can be contrasted with that of Crete, which had been placed under the authority of the Powers in 1897, becoming part of Greece following the Balkan Wars. Given the cases of the Ionian islands and Crete, it is hardly surprising that there was a movement for union with Greece, as well as agitation, which came to the fore in 1931, when a Turkish Cypriot joined the Greek Cypriots in voting against British taxation measures. When London ignored the vote, there was rioting, Government House was burnt down and the constitution was revoked, never to return.

The Liberation Movement
Given the overwhelming majority of those of Greek stock and culture, combined with the power and pressure of the Church of Cyprus, a movement for liberation and union with Greece was as natural as it was inevitable, although the British Colonial Office tried to play down the question. Encouragement had even come from Winston Churchill, who had said in 1907 that it was only rational that the Cypriot people who were of Greek descent should regard their incorporation with what could be called their mother country as an ideal to be earnestly, devoutly and fervently cherished.

The case of the Ionian islands and Crete served as constant reminders. In the case of the latter, the Moslem minority was sent to Turkey under an international agreement. The treaty of Lausanne had however put a dampener on ideas of enlarging Greece, and after the riots of 1931, firmer British rule, combined with the Greek Prime Minister, Venizelos’, pro-British policy and friendship treaty with Turkey, drove enosis underground, although during the Second World War, calls for union began again. When the Dodecanese were handed to Greece in 1947, these calls increased in strength, bolstered by the British pull-out from Palestine and impending pull-out from India. Even the Foreign Office in London, more equivocal over Cyprus than the Colonial Office, which was in charge, dismissed the possibility of enosis, at the highest level. One official argued that enosis would strengthen Greece in its civil war, while another claimed that the communists could be in power in Greece by Christmas 1947, and that Cyprus must therefore remain British. This latter current of thinking prevailed (although the communist threat had been exaggerated), but calls for enosis became increasingly loud, and Anglo-Greek relations deteriorated.

In 1950, the Church of Cyprus organized a plebiscite among the Greek Christian Orthodox on enosis, with 96 percent voting in favor. The Greek government had been dealing with Britain bilaterally on the issue, but following the British Foreign Minister, Eden’s, refusal to even discuss with Greece Cyprus’ self-determination, matters began to come to a head, and the Greek government took the question to the UN General Assembly. In the meantime, the charismatic bishop of Kition, the future president, became Archbishop Makarios III, and assumed the political leadership of the anti-colonial struggle. Colonel Georghios Grivas, a Greek army officer of Cypriot stock, launched and led a guerrilla campaign through the underground EOKA (National Organization of Cypriot Fighters) on 1 April 1955, to oust the British and achieve enosis.

To complicate matters, Britain was in the process of transferring its Middle East electronic eavesdropping operations from Suez to Cyprus. Britain’s response to the liberation campaign was to work secretly with the Turkish Cypriots and Turkish government, helping the latter to refine its propaganda. As the struggle intensified, Britain decided that a useful way of keeping the issue out of the United Nations would be to hold a tripartite conference (Britain, Greece and Turkey) to discuss “political and defense questions, as concerning the Eastern Mediterranean, including Cyprus.” This description was something of a misnomer, since the conference was essentially about Cyprus; but it was a way of again involving Turkey in Cyprus, in defiance of the Treaty of Lausanne. Turkey accepted the invitation to the conference with alacrity, while Greece understandably dithered, accepting only on 5 July, three days after Turkey’s acceptance, apparently believing that Turkey would only be invited as an observer. The backstage reality was very different to what was presented. First, Britain’s motive was to divide the Greeks and Turks, and second, to thereby ensure the conference’s failure, thus leaving power in Britain’s hands.

The conference broke down quickly, as the British government expected, and some well-coordinated anti-Greek rioting broke out in Turkey, preceded by a mysterious bomb explosion at the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki. Neither police nor troops made any effort to protect property and restrain looters. This marked the end of the cool but nevertheless reasonably correct Greek-Turkish relations that had existed since 1930, and the beginning of the exodus of both Greek nationals from Turkey and of Turkish citizens of Greek stock in Istanbul and the islands of Imbros and Tenedos, which was to gather pace dramatically nine years later, as will be seen below.

As the anti-colonial struggle to free Cyprus continued, Britain was working secretly with the Turkish authorities, encouraging them to demand partition. Turkey created the paramilitary Turkish Defense Organization (TMT) in the late 1950s to control the Turkish Cypriot community and their leadership, and to promote its partitionist policy on the island. The TMT stirred agitation against Greek Cypriots during the anti-colonial struggle and after independence. It was also responsible for the assassination of moderate Turkish Cypriots who opposed their partitionist designs.

The British discussed various proposals with Archbishop Makarios, one of the most well-known being the “Macmillan Plan.” This would have entailed division of the island between Greek and Turkish Cypriots for seven years, followed by the joint sovereignty of Britain, Greece and Turkey. Only Turkey accepted the plan, which enabled Britain to continue the pressure: on 9 March 1956, Britain deported Archbishop Makarios and three close associates to the Seychelles. It was only American pressure that occasioned his release just over a year later, but he was not allowed to return to Cyprus. The United States, worried about the tension between NATO allies Greece and Turkey, increased its pressure on Britain, Greece and Turkey to find a way out of the impasse. Greek and Turkish Prime Ministers Constantinos Karamanlis and Adnan Menderes met in Zurich in February 1959.


They agreed on a draft plan for the independence of Cyprus under a Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot president and vice-president respectively. On 19 February, in London, the Greek, Turkish and British governments met to finalize arrangements. These agreements that ended British rule included a constitution and three treaties: the Treaty of Guarantee, the Treaty of Alliance, and the Treaty of Establishment. This time, Archbishop Makarios was allowed to attend, subsequently working hard at whittling down the territories demanded by Britain, from 160 to 99 square miles, almost three percent of the island, which Britain has kept to this day. By the end of the negotiations, Britain also kept various ‘retained sites,’ overflying rights and various rights of passage. The somewhat unique arrangements tended to detract from the idea of complete sovereignty and independence, in that the three treaties were clearly connected to a continuing British presence, and were considered as a single interconnected package by the British government.

The Treaty of Establishment underpinned the constitution of the Republic of Cyprus. Over half the text was devoted to the Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) and related interests. The rest dealt with financial and nationality questions arising from the end of colonial rule. The Treaty of Alliance set up the framework for cooperation between Greece, Turkey and Cyprus, the training of a Cypriot army and the stationing of 950 and 650 Greek and Turkish soldiers on the island respectively, a ratio of 60:40, which did not represent the island’s Greek and Turkish Cypriot ratio of 82:18. The Treaty of Guarantee forbade union with any country, as well as partition, and made Britain, Greece and Turkey jointly responsible for Cyprus’ independence, sovereignty and security.

The final package gave the Turkish Cypriots more influence (for example 30 percent of civil service posts) than their numbers merited. Crucially, the Turkish Cypriots would have powers of veto in foreign affairs, defense, security and taxation.

The complexity of the whole postcolonial arrangement reflected a range of outside interests that detracted from the idea of a unitary state based on equal rights. First, there was the Anglo-American interest in maintaining the bases for military purposes (even before the Suez debacle of 1956, Britain had begun to move its Middle East electronic eavesdropping operations to Cyprus); second was the perceived need to keep Cyprus in the NATO sphere (even if it was not a member); third was a concomitant need to combat Soviet influence in the Eastern Mediterranean, just as there had been with Russia since the end of the eighteenth century; and fourth were Greece’s and Turkey’s interests in maintaining their influence.

Even though they eventually signed the Zurich and London agreements, the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities had no serious role in their drafting. In essence, both the agreements and the constitution were imposed on the people of Cyprus, who were never given the opportunity to vote on them.

Although on the surface, the whole somewhat convoluted unique legal package was intended to work properly, even the British recognized that the Treaty of Guarantee was contrary to Article 2.4 of the UN Charter and completely overridden by Article 103. It was not to be long before reality set in, and the house of cards collapsed.

The 1963–4 Crisis
The mixture of national pride, strategic interests and an unwieldy and complicated constitution proved too much for the new republic. Most important, perhaps, in terms of practicalities, the guarantor powers had left a vital job undone on Cyprus’ independence on 16 August 1960: the question of the separate municipalities, in other words the details of the grass roots administration so vital to the smooth running of the everyday life of the two communities. The question was left to post-independence negotiations between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communal chambers. Agreement proved difficult on this and some other issues, and President Makarios was compelled to propose thirteen amendments to the constitution intended to “remove obstacles to the smooth functioning and development of the state.” This was done with the encouragement of the British High Commissioner in Cyprus, who considered the proposals “a reasonable basis for discussion.”

The result was unfortunate. The proposed amendments were immediately rejected, initially by Turkey and subsequently by the Turkish Cypriot leadership, which fell into line with Ankara’s policy to partition the island. The Turkish Cypriot vice-president of Cyprus declared the constitution dead, arguing that the two communities could not work together. “Call it partition if you like,” he said. The atmosphere on the island became tense and volatile, with a series of minor incidents escalating into intercommunal clashes, fuelled by outside interference. The crisis became international.

With Turkey threatening to invade, President Makarios put the problem into the hands of the United Nations. To Turkish irritation, it decided on 4 March 1964, through Security Council Resolution 186, to use the UN Secretary-General’s mission of good offices to reach a settlement in accordance with the UN Charter; to place UN peacekeeping forces (UNFICYP) on the island; to appoint a UN mediator; and to reaffirm the sovereignty and continuing existence of the Republic of Cyprus.

In the meantime, violence continued, and Turkey’s airforce bombed Greek Cypriot villages and other civilian targets in the summer, using napalm in some cases. Although the British and Americans had initially agreed not to prevent a Turkish invasion, they also feared that a war between Greece and Turkey would seriously damage NATO’s southern flank, to the Soviet Union’s advantage. The Soviet Union threatened to defend Cyprus against an invasion, whereupon the US warned Greece and Turkey not to go to war. The American president himself warned Turkey, in the strongest terms, against invading Cyprus.

The UN prevailed. However, the crisis marked the beginning of a de facto division of the island, with Turkish Cypriots, encouraged by Turkey, implementing a policy of systematic self-segregation by setting up enclaves, and unilaterally withdrawing from the government, parliament and all state institutions. These developments also resulted in further radicalization by extremist elements from the two mother countries.

In 1960, the estimated population of Cyprus was 574.000, the ratio of the Greek Cypriot to the Turkish Cypriot community being about 82:18. When the crisis began, the latter were living all over the island, with no majority in any administrative district. There were Turkish Cypriot quarters in all the main cities. Of the villages, 392 were exclusively Greek Cypriot, 123 Turkish Cypriot, and 114 of mixed population, all three types of village being situated throughout the island.

The cost to Greece of the crisis was the expulsion of most of the 12.000 Greek nationals from Turkey and 60.000 Turkish citizens of Greek stock, from Istanbul, Imbros and Tenedos, a move which Greece chose not to reciprocate vis-à-vis the Turkish-speaking Moslems of Thrace, who thrive to this day.

As seen, one result of the crisis was the beginning of UN involvement in Cyprus, which displeased the Turkish government. To this day, UN peacekeeping troops have been stationed on the island. With UN involvement came an attempt at mediation, led by Galo Plaza. However, although his report of March 1965, which advised strongly against partition (he called the idea “a desperate step in the wrong direction”), was viewed as positive by the Greek and Cypriot governments, the Turkish government rejected it. Turkey continued to promote partition and arm the Turkish Cypriots. In the face of these developments, a division of Greek troops was sent to Cyprus to defend against a Turkish invasion.

The 1967 Crisis
With the military takeover in Greece in 1967, tensions in Cyprus, fuelled by the nationalist elements in both mother countries, came to head, with Grivas’ return to Cyprus (he had agreed to leave in 1960, returned in 1964 to lead the National Guard, left in 1967 and returned secretly in 1970). He had the support of ultra-nationalist sections of the junta in Greece. President Makarios did his best to remain above the fray, having rejected the 1964 US-proposed Acheson plan, which could have led to permanent division and double enosis. Because of his balance-of-power politics and his high profile in the non-aligned movement in the UN, he was considered—unjustifiably—to be pro-Soviet, particularly by the Americans and by parts of the Athens junta.

Fighting, initially provoked by the Turkish Cypriots, according to the UN, broke out in November, and the threat of war between Greece and Turkey again loomed, with Turkey threatening to invade Cyprus. Following intense international pressure, Grivas and the Greek division had to withdraw.

In the meantime, the government of Cyprus adopted a series of measures to normalize the situation on the island. They included economic incentives to Turkish Cypriots (who had been forced by their leadership to move to Turkish enclaves) to return to their homes and properties. These steps resulted in the reduction of tensions and the gradual elimination of intercommunal violence.

Intercommunal Negotiations (1968–1974)
The crisis did at least refocus international attention on Cyprus, and now President Makarios re-oriented his policy openly and firmly towards “unfettered independence” for Cyprus, thereby putting enosis on the back-burner. He argued in January 1968 that “A solution by necessity must be sought within the limits of what is feasible, which does not always coincide with the limits of what is desirable.” This irritated, in particular, powerful nationalist forces in the Greek junta, as well as followers of Grivas, who advocated union with Greece.

Archbishop Makarios was overwhelmingly re-elected president in 1968, with more than 95 percent of the vote, thus winning a strong endorsement for his policy. His efforts to resolve the problem with emphasis on unfettered independence not only irritated the Athens junta, but also worried those in the US and Britain who were still hoping for a double-enosis solution of an ‘Acheson Plan’ type, and who saw a truly independent Cyprus as helpful to Soviet aims in the Mediterranean, even if this view was mistaken.

Nevertheless, on the initiative of the Cyprus government, UN-sponsored intercommunal talks began in 1968, to resolve constitutional issues. Often stalling on the inability to agree on questions of local government, the talks continued in stages into 1974. In spite of hurdles along the way, the talks were making progress, when the process was interrupted by the tragic developments in the summer of 1974.

The Turkish Invasion (1974)
With the junta hardliners taking power in Greece in November 1973, relations between President Makarios and the junta reached a nadir. Grivas, who had returned to Cyprus with the blessing of the junta to lead an underground movement in Cyprus against the policies of Makarios, died in early 1974, which gave even more power to the elements of the junta seeking to depose the Archbishop. A combination of short- sightedness and fanaticism led to the junta coup against Makarios in July 1974. Britain refused to honor its obligations under the Treaty of Guarantee, thus giving Turkey a pretext to invade Cyprus.

President Makarios survived the coup and was whisked to safety in Malta by the British, who then delayed him for the night, so that he was unable to attend the UN Security Council deliberations in New York and secure a stronger UN resolution calling on constitutional order to be reestablished. Turkish armed forces invaded Cyprus on 20 July. On the same day, the UN Security Council demanded an end to foreign military intervention in Cyprus. On 23 July, following a ceasefire, the Athens junta and the putschists in Cyprus fell from office, and the President (Speaker) of the House of Representatives, Glafcos Clerides, took over as acting president, thereby restoring constitutional order in the Republic. While Turkey continued to consolidate its position, and advance, despite a truce, frenetic negotiations between Britain, Greece and Turkey began in Geneva. By this time, the British government, after showing initial indignation, was following American policy, now essentially in the hands of the Secretary of State and head of the National Security Council, Henry Kissinger.

Although the Clerides administration had now restored legality following the coup, and although the pretext for the Turkish invasion was now otiose, Turkey then took over almost 37 percent of Cyprus, with a second, and massive, military attack in mid-August. It was a brutal affair: 180.000 Greek Cypriots were expelled from their homes and displaced to the southern part of the island. Another 20.000, who tried to stay, were also forced to leave eventually: today, only a handful of mainly elderly Greek Cypriots remains, under oppressive conditions, in the Karpas peninsula.

In 1983, Turkey instigated a “unilateral declaration of independence” in occupied Cyprus, adding attempted secession to its other acts of aggression. The world condemned this step, with the UN Security Council declaring it “legally invalid.” Regrettably, the Turkish occupation continues to this day, despite a number of UN resolutions calling for the withdrawal of foreign troops and settlers.

The invasion—and particularly the secret diplomatic exchanges which led to it—are still a murky affair, and the American government has been accused of at least having condoned the coup in Cyprus and the Turkish invasion and occupation. It is telling that Kissinger wrote later that the Cyprus problem was solved in 1974, echoing the words of the Turkish premier, Bulent Ecevit, who had ordered the invasion. It is also revealing that the American government acquiesced to the occupation of more than a third of Cyprus by Turkey. The British Secretary of State, James Callaghan, had been warned about the Turkish plans to invade and, following the Turkish landing, expressed concern about Turkish plans to consolidate, and take over one third of Cyprus. However, when questioned later by the Parliamentary Select Committee on Cyprus, he chose to deny any foreknowledge.

As a result of the invasion and occupation, Britain wished to relinquish the SBAs, having recognized ten years earlier that they would be regarded as increasingly anachronistic by world public opinion. Following the invasion, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) considered the SBAs to be an embarrassment, and probed with the United States the idea of giving them up, only to be told that they must remain British. Kissinger, in particular, applied pressure on the British government, referring to Cyprus as an important piece of the world chessboard, and underlining his view that Cyprus was important in the Arab/Israel dispute. This was hardly surprising, since as long ago as 1957, he had written that Cyprus should be a staging area for the Middle East. In private, the FCO considered the whole treaty package to be somewhat precarious legally, even admitting that Britain was in a position of power without responsibility.

Thus, the aftermath of the invasion underlined the precariousness of the whole divisive 1960 package. Now, however, with Turkish troops occupying over one third of the island, and with Cyprus’ geographic position still considered important to American Middle Eastern strategy, the only course was to emphasize the intercommunal negotiations, as President Makarios did, even agreeing in early 1977 with the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, on a set of guidelines based on an independent, non-aligned and bicommunal federal republic. But in summer 1977, he died. Turkey had in the meantime been consolidating its position by encouraging the emigration to Cyprus of thousands of illegal settlers, and by holding up progress on a solution.

The story of the negotiations has filled several books, but the common theme that has emerged from released diplomatic documents is that Turkey has consolidated its hold on the northern part of Cyprus to an extent that now makes them more than ever reluctant to yield anything near the minimum acceptable to the Greek side as a basis for a settlement. If one adds to this the Turkish government’s playing off its claims on some of Greece’s islets and continental shelf with its position on Cyprus, and connects this to the strategic interests of major powers, then it is not difficult to see why negotiations have been fraught with difficulty. There are now an estimated 160.000 illegal settlers in occupied Cyprus, already outnumbering the original Turkish Cypriot population, which has shrunk to about half of its original 116.000, due to emigration, creating incipient intra-Turkish tensions. If one adds the 43.000 occupation troops, it is clear that a massive demographic imbalance has been artificially imposed on the island.

Apart from the continuing occupation, there are still some 1.400 missing Greek Cypriots, while there has been a good deal of cultural and environmental damage, particularly of archaeological sites, churches and monasteries. Precious religious artifacts and archaeological treasures from occupied Cyprus have found their way into foreign auction rooms and museums, some being returned following vigorous legal action. The ethnic cleansing, the changing of place-names, the systematic colonization, and the destruction of the Christian and Hellenic cultural and religious heritage, have been part of a deliberate process to “turkify” the occupied areas of Cyprus.

Some displaced Cypriots have also won cases against Turkey for deprivation of their properties, most of which are now inhabited by illegal settlers. The most well-known is the Loizidou case, although Turkey has still not allowed her to take over her property. Despite these problems, in 2004, a solution seemed to some to be in the offing, in the shape of the so-called Annan Plan.

EU Accession (2004)
The background to this proposed solution has its immediate origins in Cyprus’ brave application for EEC membership, in the face of threats by the Turkish government. Formal accession negotiations began in 1998. The following year, again in the face of Turkish threats, the European Council underlined that a solution to the Cyprus problem was not a precondition for Cyprus’ accession to the EU. This development stimulated international efforts for a settlement, with some powers realizing that Cypriot accession could embarrass Turkey, itself an EU applicant, which on Cypriot accession on 1 May 2004, would be occupying an EU member state. British and American pressure for a solution, both front- and backstage, proceeded at a manic pace, culminating in the “Annan Plan”, named after the then UN Secretary General.

Since Cyprus has always been part of the European family of nations, accession to the EU was a natural choice for Cyprus, dictated by its history, culture, civilization, traditions and European outlook.

The European Commission understood the complexity of the situation. It therefore stipulated that the application of the acquis communautaire in occupied Cyprus would be suspended until that area was reunited with the rest of the Republic, even though the entire Republic of Cyprus would be a member of the EU. The talks began in November 2002, between the leaders of the two communities, and following various meetings between the Cypriot, Greek, Turkish and British governments (with the United States in an unofficial capacity) under UN auspices, a complex package was put to a referendum. 76 percent of voters in free Cyprus rejected the plan, against 35 percent in occupied Cyprus. The plan was overwhelmingly defeated and rendered null and void, by its own relevant stipulations.

The plan contained provisions of the very 1960 which were considered by many to be a major contributory factor in the breakdown of 1963. It included the somewhat arbitrary stipulation that Britain, Greece and Cyprus would support Turkey’s EU application, an unacceptable infringement of sovereignty. Crucially, it also meant abolishing the original Republic of Cyprus, and the recreation of a new one, with no watertight guarantee for a complete withdrawal of occupation troops and illegal settlers or for the rights of Cypriots to settle when and where they wished. In addition, it did not provide for a properly functional government, free from the ethnic divisions of the past that had been imposed on the island.

In short, the plan was not only about the Cypriots, but about external interests. Significantly, many of the proposals were so much against the spirit of European Union law, as to weaken the very founding principles of the European project, particularly those concerning the right to move and settle freely. The complex package of derogations from EU law served to undermine the raison d’etre of the EU itself, particularly by appearing to condone the aggressive objectives of a power illegally occupying another country.

Present and Future

The future lies clearly with the European Union. In January 2008, the Euro was introduced to Cyprus, thus underlining Cyprus’ economic strength and resilience, based on a flourishing services sector (banking, trade, and tourism account for around three quarters of GDP). This is all a far cry from the Cyprus of the early sixties, when the economy relied strongly on agricultural and mineral exports. Significantly, and good for Cyprus’ long term economic prospects, is the fact that the island spends more than the EU average on education per capita. Given the loss of many of the most productive areas of Cyprus to the invasion and occupation forces, and the internal displacement of 200.000 Greek Cypriots from occupied to government controlled Cyprus, Cyprus’ economy is little short of a miracle.

Currently, there is hope that a solution can be found. The government of Cyprus has taken a major initiative to reinvigorate the peace process: direct negotiations with the Turkish Cypriot community were begun in September 2008, despite various obstacles and unhelpful public pronouncements by some Turkish officials, aiming to undermine the process. As the talks continue, there are hopes that outside powers will join the Cypriot people in the tough task of restoring the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity of their country, and that negative external interference will become a thing of the past. Cypriots are looking to Europe to stick up for its post-war traditions, and support its fellow-member in the quest for a lasting solution.

To conclude
Ideally, were Cyprus reunited, European law would guarantee equal rights for everybody, with no need for agreements emphasizing separateness. There would be no need to resuscitate anachronistic and complicated arrangements with their panoply of divisive and discriminatory details that have been shown to be unrealistic, and led to so many problems in the past. As the present intercommunal negotiations continue, it is clear that Cyprus’ future lies in equal European rights for all Cypriots, rather than in the interests of outside powers, interests which have been proven to be detrimental.

Cyprus has endured a great deal in recent years, but has survived in the face of adversity, becoming a valued member of the European Union. It is being transformed into a key European strongpoint in the eastern Mediterranean, serving as a bridge of peace between the EU and the Middle East, as during the crisis in the Lebanon in the summer of 2006. Since independence, and in spite of the devastation brought about by Turkey’s continuing aggression, the Republic of Cyprus can point to significant achievements in many fields. Today, Cyprus is a modern European democracy, actively seeking to end the forcible division of the island and its people imposed on it by Turkey since 1974.

Currently, the government is doing its utmost to reunify the country, and to restore the rights and freedoms of all Cypriots, based on EU law and UN resolutions, throughout the island. In the meantime, the Cypriots remain as stoic as their antecedent, Zeno of Kition.