If an archaeologist writes a book about Cyprus, you expect that the author will focus on archaeology or, at least, the history of Cypriote civilization. But you don’t have to know so much about Cyprus, before you soon will realise that the history of this unfortunate island has been focused on strategic military ideas since the Bronze Age.
Although a Swedish museum curator and in charge of the Cyprus Collections in Stockholm during 30 years, I very early became aware of this connection between past and present in the island’s history.
The Turkish invasion 1974 deeply affected my work in the museum. Neither had I ever the opportunity to visit the now occupied areas of Cyprus before the war. Since then I became interested in Cypriote politics, but I didn’t start to write my own articles on the subject until in the 1990’s after a visit in Cyprus. I didn’t feel enough well informed to write about politics, but I wrote a lot about the cultural heritage of Cyprus, belonging to all of us, much of which was destroyed during the years after the invasion.
During the first decades I was whole-heartedly on the side of my Greek Cypriot friends and I didn’t even try to find any Turkish Cypriot to hear his version. Then, in the beginning of the new millennium, I met a couple of retired Swedish policemen, working for the UNFICYP in Cyprus during the 1960’s and after 1974. At the same time I started to read books and articles which didn’t only reflect the Greek Cypriot point of view. I also spent too much time in reading a lot of propaganda on the Internet – from both sides – before I realised that very little of this information was reliable. Hundreds of useless hours. Anyhow, any criticism against the actions of the Republic of Cyprus was classified as propaganda, paid by Turkey. So where could I find information if I wanted fresh and reliable information about the Cyprus Problem? I wanted to focus on the EOKA fighting against the British Colonial powers, the intercommunal fighting during the 1960’s and the tragic events in connection with the Turkish invasion 1974, initiated by the Greek fascist junta in Athens.
When I recently visited Cyprus again for some other tasks, I also tried to meet people who actually had been involved in all this fighting or could tell me their impressions as former witnesses. One of my new acquaintances became both rewarding and fascinating. Cypriote friends in Sweden have arranged this meeting, since they know that I try to make research for my book. I have always known that the truth doesn’t exist, especially if you were not there when it happened. But at least I wanted more knowledge.
The man I was going to meet was a member of EOKA in the 1950’s and with long experience of politics. This man, Kyrios N, was extremely kind and immediately ran away for strong coffee when he noticed my red and sweating creature at the entrance. I was exhausted from several hours of walking, carrying books and gifts, and I only wanted to rest. Kyrios N spoke a remarkable Cypriot dialect, which I always adore, but not when I want to discuss difficult and important problems as Cypriote politics. I had brought piles of papers with questions, but when I told him that I had found some on the information on the Internet he refused to comment them. According to him, everything on the net is propaganda and people paid by Turkey write much of it. Even if the articles are written by Greeks or Greek Cypriots.
I told him that I of course respect a man who actually was there when it happened. I just had to rearrange my poor brain and adapt it to new facts.
Kyrios N as well had been fighting for Cyprus in the EOKA and he was anxious to tell me that he meant the first EOKA, in the 50’ies. As many other veterans he was later asked to become a member of the EOKA-B, created by Grivas and the Greek junta. Everybody knew that the CIA and USA financed this later version of EOKA. Kyrios N was asked to become a member, and was of course threatened when he refused. Kyrios N told me about many interesting things I didn’t know about, but of course not unknown to the Cypriots. He informed me, f ex, about the Turkish involvement already in the 1950’s in the everyday life of the Turkish Cypriots. They were forced by Turkish soldiers of the fascist organisation TMT to leave their villages and move to enclaves in the North. I was also told that the many murders on both sides were committed by extreme groups of both TMT and EOKA. The Cypriots suffered from the pressure from both the extreme left- and right wing parties. I already knew that these people killed union workers from both sides who wanted peace and reunification. Kyrios N also declared that many Cypriots died of British torture in prisons; more than those who were hanged. The British only employed Turkish Cypriots as policemen and many of them were really ruthless and brutal, even if there were decent people, too. One of them, a Turkish Cypriot policeman, had saved Kyrios N when he was put in prison by the British.
Then Kyrios N also recalled the name of a Turkish Cypriot doctor and intellectual, who became the closest adviser of the Archbishop who had “chosen” this man himself. The name of this remarkable Turkish Cypriot was Ihsan Dr Ali, who also has written a book of his life and his involvement in Cypriote politics. When I came back to Sweden again, I noticed that I just had borrowed this book from the Cyprus Embassy without knowing its importance. I just wanted to read something written by a Turkish Cypriot, for a change. And the book really was a revelation to me, offering new aspects of old problems. I wonder why this book is never mentioned in bibliographies of recent books about the Cyprus problem, in articles or in discussions on the Internet. It was edited as late as 2000 and can’t be considered as out of date. Besides, Dr Ali’s ideas hold such a value and dignity, which never should be considered as of no interest. Dr Ali seems to have had a passion for his country and all his countrymen, without any exception. He was devoted to the Archbishop even if he sometimes was convinced that Makarios took the wrong decisions.
A Turkish Cypriot, honoured and loved also by the Greek Cypriots – could there be a better source for knowledge about the Cyprus problem?
I have tried to extract the most interesting pieces of Ali’s book in order to make it known to a broader audience.
Dr Ihsan Dr Ali, ”My memoirs”
Published by Ihsan Dr Alis Foundation 2000
The book is a fascinating and horrifying document, at least to the author of these notes. I had a faint idea of the shameful and deep responsibility of the US, CIA and its loyal collaborator Britain, but I could never imagine its culpability was so extensive. These short notes only comprise a small summary of this profoundly fascinating book, which should be read by anybody involved in the Cyprus Problem.
Dr Ali states that the British Colonial Government used all means to suppress the people and even aimed at the destruction of the economy of Cyprus. They were trying to obstruct the development of Cyprus, which they considered one of the most backward areas of the world. This government aimed at subduing the people of Cyprus through poverty and economic misery. The British further only appointed persons who they knew would be” their master’s voice”. A well-known fact is also that the British turned the Turkish Cypriots against the Greek Cypriots and this was the typical partitionist policy of the British.
His comment about Turkey is also very interesting. He claims that no Turkish Government had ever taken an interest in the fate of the Turkish Community of Cyprus, until the launching of EOKA. Turkey had never protested against the injustices inflicted by the British rule on the Turkish Community. According to the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, the Turks considered Cyprus lost like the other territories of the Ottoman Empire.
But Dr Ali also level some acid criticism to the Greek Cypriot government when he establishes that the Greek Cypriots didn’t stop asking for Enosis even during World War 2 while Greece was under German occupation.
Many Greeks and Turks joined the British army during World War 2 as volunteers owing to the economic depression. (I also have the information that they were forced to do so, because the government closed many of the copper mines and deprived the workers of their incomes./MLW)
Dr Ali also states that the Church and the Greek Community should have considered the geopolitical importance of the island. They should also have borne in mind that the British would not hesitate to use the EOKA struggle to fan hatred between the two communities and also cultivate chauvinism. He writes that “the Colonial administration ...... didn’t hesitate to separate the two communities when it felt the need to implement the policy of divide and rule.”
He further states that “the Colonialists ......used every means of torture and oppression in order to suppress the Greeks. They depended on the British commandos and the Turkish auxiliaries for the implementation of these methods.
Dr Ali writes that “the slogan from ”Turk to Turk” appeared at a time when the European Community was set up. ..... a small fraction of Turks exploited the whole Turkish people. ........ in order to achieve partition, they forcibly uprooted our compatriots from their lands and homes, stifled the freedom of speech, and turned the people into robots.”
TkCyp were terrorised to leave their houses and go to the Turkish quarter. Dr Ali also reveals that those who wanted to conceal their own treason accused him of being a traitor. Turkey launched the slogan ”partition or death”, which, according to Dr Ali, resulted in the London-Zurich Agreements, which became the cause of the evils for the Cypriots.
Very interesting is also his comment about the two leaders Kütchük and Denktash, who he both considered to have aided the implementation of the British policy of ”divide and rule”. Dr Ali also considered Kütchük to have been influenced by Denktash due to their long relationship.
Dr Ali also writes about the famous Dr Galo Plaza (mediator, UN), who had shown so much insight in the Cyprus conflict. In his report of March 1965 he excluded both Enosis and partition and recommended an independent, integral and sovereign state. Unfortunately it was rejected by Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership, who both asked for federation and a military base in Cyprus. The US supported the Turkish decision and Dr Plaza submitted his resignation. The Greek government remained indifferent; it only put forward Enosis and urged Makarios not to accept the report.
Dr Ali’s opinion was that the Cyprus conflict could have terminated in 1965 if the Plaza report would have been accepted.
He claims that the aim of the Greek junta was to serve the interests of NATO whose target was double Enosis. They also created ”National Front” the aim of which was Enosis. The indifference of the Turkish government and inaction was the result of and understanding between CIA and the Greek junta to dismantle the state of Cyprus. All knew it that the junta was an agent of the CIA.
The junta colonels, ignoring the Cyprus Government, began negotiations with Turkey at Evros in Greece. Among other things, the Evros negotiations envisaged a base to be given to Turkey at Rizokarpaso.
He also maintains, that public opinion is well aware that provocation of the bloody events in 1963 were part of a well-planned plot in which Georgadjis and Denktash played a significant role. Both acted for the benefit of foreign interests. Georgadjis was a man of the CIA and he was carrying out its orders.
When Makarios proposed the ”13 amendments” to the 1960 constitution, aiming at a smoother functioning, Denktash exploited the proposal so as to provoke the bloody events in 1963. Before the events took place, he had forced the TkCyp living in towns to abandon their houses, which were in GkCyp areas. Through terrorism Denktash tried to keep the TkCyp community away from the GkCyp. Those irresponsible people terrifying the Turks were Georgadjis instruments. Dr Ali defines Denktash and Georgadjis as the bad demons of the country, and also that the actions of both men served NATO plans.
The same clique of policemen (GkCyp) carried out searches of unsuspected TkCyp in the Turkish sector of Nicosia. The same police officer and his men placed bombs at the monument of the EOKA fighter Markos Drakos.
Denktash continuously terrorised the Turkish community not to have contacts with Greeks. He persecuted those Turks who were against partition and supported the policy of co-existence.
All this created an atmosphere of suspicion between GkCyp and TkCyp. During ordinary confrontation in the Turkish quarter, a policeman, supporter of Georgadjis, shot and killed a Turkish common woman. The supporters of Denktash immediately took advantage of the incident and this was the beginning of the clashes. Georgadjis, minister of the interior, and Denktash did all they could in order to create a chaotic situation.
Dr Ali reveals that the prohibition of commercial exchanges with the GkCyp caused immense suffering. The Turks that didn’t obey were punished with fines and beating up or with imprisonment.
Dr Ali also writes that supporters of Georgadjis killed innocent Turks and the corresponding followers of Denktash killed innocent Greeks.
Already in 1964 Georgadjis went to Greece and invited Grivas to Cyprus to organise the forces of resistance against the Turks. The true purpose, however, was to create problems for Makarios. Dr Ali also states that Georgadjis placed his own people in the police force, in the army etc. Even the moukhtars were people to the liking of Georgadjis, who also armed many irresponsible and uncontrolled men. Georgadjis aspired for the presidency and he stopped at nothing. Georgadjis also plotted with the junta clique in Cyprus. They planned and executed the assassination attempt against Makarios on 8 March 1970, but this is perhaps a more renowned fact.
In 1972 the Greek fascist junta instigated the then bishops to demand the withdrawal of Makarios III from presidency. Dr Ali states that all the bishops were foreign-inspired and played the game of the Greek junta. He quotes the bishop of Paphos, Gennadios: ”Rather than becoming communists, it is better to have a double union”.
The conspiracy of the bishops hurt Makarios deeply, which Dr Ali was able to see at close quarters.
Greek Army officers were accusing Makarios of being against Enosis and he was forced to speak about Enosis on every occasion. Dr Ali was of the opinion that those who spoke in favour of Enosis also were organs of foreign interest.
Dr Ali maintains that Grivas created the known episodes at Kofinou in the autumn 1967. There were 14 victims of unarmed Turks, and the incident gave the excuse to Turkey to threaten with an invasion.
During the following years the efforts were not concentrating on finding a solution of the sc Cyprus Problem, but were concentrated on the finding of a result, which could serve the interests of NATO in the Middle East. Both the junta and Turkey appeared to be supporters of the talks but in reality they undermined them.
Organs of the CIA and NATO began a propaganda campaign against Makarios, spreading rumours that the Archbishop was the only obstacle to achieving a solution.
NATO didn’t like an independent Cyprus State. The US didn’t like the presence of Cyprus in the Middle East, where she had other interests. The influence of the Soviet in the Middle East and the crisis between Arabs and Israelis increased the strategic importance of Cyprus.
Dr Ali writes that the coupists killed many of Makarios’ supporters in 1974, imprisoned hundreds, and subjected others to torture to execute them later. The revenge of the National Guard and EOKA-B coupists in Paphos took a very savage character. They launched attacks against innocent Turks, even women and children, and terrified them to force them to evacuate their homes and go north. The coupists were to bring about partition because they had orders from the CIA.
The responsibility of the Clerides government was also great, Dr Ali maintains. When Clerides took over from Sampson he could have released TkCyp imprisoned in military camps, but he never did.
He further writes that “the junta officers and the EOKA B gave pretext to the Turks to invade while they themselves [EOKA B] were looting and killing the TkCyp of the south. Their aim was to create a de facto partition.”
He rightly states that ”the GkCyp and TkCyp who were ruined by the coupists have a common enemy.”
Dr Ali is also, however, critical to his beloved chief and friend that he was too submissive after his return in December 1974. People expected the punishment of the criminals, but many were instead promoted, causing great reaction among the Cypriotes. The author claims that the Archbishop followed his tactics, advised by the Greek officers.
According to Dr Ali, were the bloody events of December 1963 artificially created and aimed at the dissolution of the Cyprus Republic and the realisation of double enosis, which was the policy of the US. The Acheson Plan was the result of that policy. By voting against the Plaza resolution, US came into disagreement with UN. The US, on the other hand, had decided to carry out the Acheson Plan. Makarios rejected this plan, while Greece and Turkey accepted it.
With the Turkish intervention, the junta of Greece fell and thousands of GkCyp and TkCyp, who would have been murdered by the fascists, were saved. But this intervention was not made for the prosperity and peace of the two communities in Cyprus and the return of the legal president, as stated by the then Prime Minister Ecevit. Everything followed the opposite course. Thousands of people were murdered. Thousands of captives were carried to Turkey and hundreds of thousands became refugees.
A very wise reflection in the book is also that the Greek side should have dropped the Enosis idea and instead co-operate with the Turkish community for an independent Cyprus.
Finally Dr Ali maintains the great responsibility of the British government. The then Prime Minister Ecevit had proposed to the British to intervene together with Turkey as guarantor powers but Britain refused to do so.