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Cyprus problem goes back to 1963 and not 1974

Reader comment on item: Turkey in Cyprus vs. Israel in Gaza

Submitted by Lazman (United States), Jul 25, 2010 at 13:26

A brief background for those who are not familiar with Cyprus issue: In the last half millennia, Cyprus was Ottoman/Turkish for centuries, British for close to 100 years, and a Turkish-Greek Republic since 1960. Turkey, Greece, and Great Britain were the guarantor powers of the three Treaties of the Zurich-London agreements which became the basis for the 1960 Cypriot constitution. Unfortunately, the Republic of Cyprus ended in just 3 years when in 1963 Makarios' government disregarded the Turkish rights to participate as guaranteed by the 1960 Constitution.

Basically since 1963 the island had two political lives and two administrations each responsible for its own people. Further, the next 10 years until 1974 had been a very brutal for the Turkish side faced with Greek prejudice, oppression, and capped by violence. In 1967, following Greek military dictatorship seizing power in Greece, the Greek Cypriot House of Representatives passed a resolution, declaring enosis, the union of Cyprus with Greece. As noted by the U.K. House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs which reviewed the Cyprus question in 1987 and reported unanimously on July 2 of that year that "June 1967 the Greek Cypriot legislature unanimously passed a resolution in favor of enosis, in blatant contravention of the 1960 Treaties and Constitution." (Art. I of the Treaty of Guarantee prohibited any action likely to directly or indirectly promote union with any other state or partition of the island, and Art. 185(2) of the Constitution is to similar effect.)"

Makarios was shrewd and thought he could push out the Turks from Cyprus by using the cultural, economical, and political cards. It almost worked but some Greeks got reckless and could not wait for his smart politics to run its course. So in 1974 Greek Cypriot terrorists under the leadership of Sampson and organized by Greek junta in the mainland tried to dismantle the Republic in order to join with the mainland Greece in a coup to replace Makarios. Sampson was declared the president of Cyprus by the junta which lasted 8 days and on his 5th day of presidency, the "guarantor" Turkey launched an invasion of the island to protect Turkish Cypriots. Another anniversary, July 23, 1974, is the collapse of the Greek military junta as a result of the Cyprus fiasco and the forced resignation of Sampson. Unfortunately, the ensuing civil war caused the division of the island to this day.

Sampson was sentenced by Greeks to 20 years in prison in 1976 but got out after 3 years and moved to France for medical treatment. According to the Greek daily newspaper Eleftherotipia, which interviewed him on February 26, 1981, Sampson said, "Had Turkey not intervened, I would not only have proclaimed Enosis, I would have annihilated the Turks in Cyprus as well." On March 12, 1977, Makarios declared, "It is in the name of Enosis that Cyprus has been destroyed."

Pipes, rather than a contrast, I would say that's a more of an analogy with some Arab Israeli conflicts. Wouldn't you? Where one side gets stupid and aggressive and it backfires on them.

The Greek military junta, which ruled for 7 years, arrested nearly 87,000 people, tortured about 2,800, and assassinated 88. As a close Greek friend of mine expressed many years ago, what aggravated and ate at most Greeks about the Turkish invasion of the island was having to accept that it was a result of the junta's screw-up and that it was the Turkish invasion of the island that caused the ousting of the Greek military and brought back democracy. As my friend put it: it also generated a whole new group of extreme Turkophobe Greeks on the island than ever seen on mainland Greece.

To clarify a couple of points in your contrasts: Both the northern one-third of the island (Turkish) and the southern two-thirds (Greek) are independent states with its own government and own airports with own airlines. The wall you refer to may be the UN buffer zone between the two sectors, which is patrolled by a UN peacekeeping force. Yes, maybe that's what Gaza needs. Also, I am sure you know that the last 30 years Cyprus has been relatively violence free; in fact many EU retirees live in Northern Cyprus which is known to be safe and a low crime area. Now there's a contrast for you. As far as the checkpoints between north and south I believe the main crossing points are open 24 hours a day and you are not restricted on the number of times you cross. A British friend of mine laughingly described one of these checkpoints: a very serious Turkish soldier at attention on one side, and on the other side a Greek soldier leaning back in his plastic lawn chair, wearing flip-flops and weapon propped up against the wall. It just doesn't sound like the Israel/Gaza border.

Dr. Pipes, I still consider Turkey and Israel strong allies in the region and I believe that this alliance will last much longer than the current Islamist government. I will also share a comment by an Islamist writer who years ago claimed that there were two Jewish states formed in the Middle East in the modern times: one being Israel and the other secular Republic of Turkey. At least based on this influential Islamist there is more commonality than contrast.

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