The 43 year old question which resonates back and forth like a Cruise Line ferry. A subject which invokes vehement responses from both Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities.
The Greek Cypriots who angrily maintain the accusation of ‘invasion’. And the Turkish Cypriots who take great offense to the notion of “invasion”, and stand firm in their stance of ‘life saving intervention’.
Taking this into account, you will be presented with an accurate chronological breakdown as to why the actions of mainland Turkey in 1974, was indeed a legal intervention.
In 1952, the Guerrilla Group EOKA – a far right organisation with terroristic ideologies – was formed. Led by George Grivas, the EOKA ideology quickly spread among the Greek Cypriots on the island- the mission, to eradicate British colonial powers, and later, to ethnically cleanse the island of its Turkish Cypriot community. Although Greek military leader Nikos Sampson had made an open call for a complete genocide of Turkish Cypriots during the sixties, he later claimed that EOKA was ‘not a threat’ to the Turkish Cypriots, after having spent 11 years leading mass murders, not only on Turkish Cypriots, who were the main targets of this vicious campaign, but also Greek Cypriots who were not in favour of a Greek junta invasion.
EOKA announced their arrival by the deadly deployment of bombs on the 1st of April 1955, and it wasn’t until 1958 that TMT, the Turkish resistance organisation was formed among the Turkish Cypriot community in Cyprus. With very limited access to weapons, and commonly having perhaps 3 or 4 guns per village, protecting their Turkish Cypriot communities proved very difficult and many times, impossible, against a heavily armed terror organisation like EOKA. The result of which left 103 Turkish villages looted and destroyed, and most of the Turkish Cypriots as refugees in their own country, pushed into makeshift ghettos and enclaves.
1955-1963 saw waves of violence and destruction set upon the Turkish Cypriot community – most of the victims being a majority of the vulnerable in society – women, children and elderly. The mass graves in which their bodies lay remain dotted around the island to this day.
Following the unrest between the two communities, pre-1960, The new constitution of Cyprus was created, supervised and agreed by the leaders of the guarantor states – The Prime Minister of Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Harold MacMillan, President of Greece, Konstatinos Karamanlis, and the Prime Minister of Turkey, Adnan Menderes, attended by Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot representatives, who accepted the annexation of the memorandum included within the constitution. A complete version of the constitution can be found by visiting the web page: http://web.deu.edu.tr/kibris/articles/app.html
The constitution was in drafted on the 16th of August 1959.
The treaty of Guarantee and the Treaty of Alliance, included in this mutually agreed constitution are probably the most vital part of answering the question; ‘invasion or intervention?’
A Communal Chamber (two parallel legislative bodies within the same government) was designed within the constitution in order to protect Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot livelihood, religion, culture, security, equality, and any/all human rights with representation elected by the universal suffrage from their own respective communities.
The section of the Communal Chamber can be found under the treaty of Guarantee within the constitution.
Taking extracts from the London Zurich Treaties of February 1959, Treaty of Guarantee, Treaty of Alliance;
Article I of the treaty of guarantee, states that;
“The Republic of Cyprus undertakes to ensure the maintenance of its independence, territorial integrity and security, as well as respect for its Constitution. It undertakes not to participate, in whole or in part, in any political or economic union with any State whatsoever. It accordingly declares prohibited any activity likely to promote, directly or indirectly, either union with any other State or partition of the Island.”
And yet, in defiance of this clause, ENOSIS was a continued and relentless campaign, and every single Greek Cypriot Politician of the time were EOKA members.
Article V states that;
“The present Treaty shall enter into force on the date of signature. The original texts of the present Treaty shall be deposited at Nicosia. The High Contracting Parties shall proceed as soon as possible to the registration of the present Treaty with the Secretariat of the United Nations, in accordance with Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.”
It was widely understood, by all signing parties, that this constitution should be adhered to on the date of signing.
Treaty of Alliance
“The Republic of Cyprus, Greece and Turkey, (I.) In their common desire to uphold peace and to preserve the security of each of them, (II.) Considering that their efforts for the preservation of peace and security are in conformity with the purpose and principles of the United Nations Charter. Have agreed as follow:
“The High Contracting Parties undertake to co-operate for their common defence and to consult together on the problems raised by that defence.”
“The High Contracting Parties undertake to resist any attack or aggression, direct or indirect, directed against the independence or the territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus.”
Despite the terms of the communal chamber, its dire importance to preserve equality and representation of both communities on the island, The Treaty of Alliance, which was clearly stated within the constitution, and acknowledged and signed by all three guarantor states, as well as the representatives from both Cypriot communities, the Greek Cypriots and Greece continuously violated these terms with their promotion and encouragement of the enosis movement (to unite Cyprus with mainland Greece)- and even worse, the communal chamber was abolished by the Greek Cypriot house of representatives in 1965
It was around 1965 that further media sources provided evidence of the true nature of the Greek Cypriot administration in Cyprus, which showed no intention to support a peaceful solution where both communities could live peacefully under a single Cypriot government, representative of Turkish and Greek Cypriots, and never did.
On June the 13th, 1965, it was published in newspaper ETHINIKOS KIRYX (the then Athens Greek daily), Quoted by general George Karaiannis (the mainland Greek army officer in command of the then Cyprus army)
“…it was in august 1960, president Makarios decided to organise the Greek Cypriots for battle…”
A mere 12 months after the constitution was written, Makarios had already began to organise Greek Cypriots and preparing them to eradicate Turkish Cypriots.
George Karayiannis then stated in the same newspaper, two days later, on the 15th of June 1965 that;
“…when the Turkish Cypriots objected to the amendment of the constitution, Makarios put his plan into effect, and the Greek Cypriots attack began in December 1963…”
And attack they did – and this admission in 1965 by the military leader Karayiannis only serves to support that December 1963 saw some of the worst atrocities thinkable committed to innocent Turkish Cypriot civilians.
In 1967, the Greek military junta had seized power and control of Greece, and again, in line with their actions since the beginning of the conflict, and in the same year of Greece’s military takeover, the Greek Cypriot house of representatives unanimously passed a resolution, declaring that their struggle in Cyprus will not end until the union of Cyprus with Greece was achieved, with continued and sustained attacks on the Turkish Cypriot communities in an attempt to force them to submit to ENOSIS.
As a result of this illegal Greek Cypriot declaration, the Turkish Cypriots were forced to organise their own administration, representative of the Turkish Cypriot communities, and the Turkish Cypriot administration was formed on the 28th of December 1967.
The Turkish intervention on the 20th of July, 1974, came as a response to the Greek junta coup d’état in their attempt to completely invade the island of Cyprus. The coup had commenced on the 15th of July, five days earlier. Turkey acted within accordance of the Cyprus constitution as stated in the treaty of guarantee;
“In the event of a breach of the provisions of the present Treaty, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom undertake to consult together with respect to the representations or measure necessary to ensure observance of those provisions. In so far as common or concerted action may not prove possible, each of the three guaranteeing Powers reserves the right to take action with the sole aim of re-establishing the state of affairs created by the present Treaty.”
Despite the ongoing violence, against the Turkish Cypriots and the Turks, who had arrived to restore order within the parameters of the constitution, Turkey continued with her peace operation, and by the second phase of the operation had seized control of 33% of the island (or thereabouts).
Finally, the Turkish Cypriots were able to honour and grieve for the thousands of Turkish Cypriot men, women, children and elderly, mercilessly massacred during an 11 year attempt of ethnic cleansing – and, after having their human rights stripped for so long, somehow began to pick up the pieces of what was left of their lives and live in peace.
Between the 25th-30th of July 1974, at a conference held in Geneva, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Greece mutually drafted signed a declaration in agreement that;
“All Turkish enclaves occupied by Greek or Greek Cypriot forces shall be immediately evacuated, and a ‘security zone’ shall be set up between the two zones”
A few months later, on the 13th of February 1975, the Turkish federated state of Cyprus was formed, paving the way for the future TRNC.
On the 28th of April 1975, during the talks held in Vienna, it was mutually agreed by representatives of both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities that, the remaining Turkish Cypriot citizens in the south shall be transferred to the north, and the remaining Greek Cypriot citizens in the north shall be transferred to the south.
Clearly, this was a legal intervention. Turkey not only showed great restraint throughout 11 years of atrocities committed to Turkish Cypriots, continuous ENOSIS propaganda, and a list of documented events which would have entitled the use of Turkey’s unilateral intervention. The intervention was well within the parameters of the 1959 constitution. This was further upheld by the Athens court of appeal as follows;
“The Turkish military intervention in Cyprus which was carried out in accordance of the Zurich-London agreements was legal. Turkey, as one of the guarantor powers, had the right to fulfil her obligations. The real culprits…. are the Greek officers who engineered and staged a coup and prepared the conditions for this intervention” (Decision number 2658, dated 21/03/1979)
The final question- Why are Turkish troops still in Cyprus?
The answer is simple. Because there is still no solution to the Cyprus problem. Justice and human rights continue to be denied to Turkish Cypriots for as long as the embargoes remain, and as long as the international community continue to ignore the suffering the Turkish Cypriot endure while they remain internationally unrecognized. The green line buffer zone is still in a state of ceasefire- which means Greek attacks may be possible at any given time – as demonstrated by the ELAM group of protesters who, earlier this year, staged a rather frightening demonstration while chanting terroristic style Neo-Nazi slogans, and the rekindled ENOSIS movement earlier this year – neither of which were condemned by the Greek Cypriot government, and ENOSIS day continues to be honoured in Greek Cypriot schools, by request of the Greek Cypriot Minister of Education.
Turkish Cypriot vulnerability is very real. Turkish Cypriot need for protection is very real – not a story, nor an attempt of neither dominance nor a fantasized mythology. The Turkish Cypriots have demonstrated the desire to find a peaceful solution for decades, wanting nothing more than peace and prosperity for both communities with good neighbourly relations and until Greek Cypriots reciprocate this decency, the status quo will continue.
After all avenues have been exhausted, with a Greek Cypriot state which shows no willingness to compromise, it is now the responsibility of the international community to remove the devastating isolations, and support the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus into becoming an internationally recognized independent state.