Cyprus Table of Contents

The general tone of the agreements was one of compromise. Greek Cypriots, especially members of organizations such as EOKA, expressed disappointment because enosis had not been attained. Turkish Cypriots, however, welcomed the agreements and set aside their earlier defensive demand for partition. According to the Treaty of Establishment, Britain retained sovereignty over about 256 square kilometers, which became the Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area, to the northwest of Larnaca, and the Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area to the west of Limassol. Britain also retained certain access and communications routes.

According to constitutional arrangements, Cyprus was to become an independent republic with a Greek Cypriot president and a Turkish Cypriot vice-president; a council of ministers with a ratio of seven Greeks to three Turks and a House of Representatives of fifty members, also with a seven-to-three ratio, were to be separately elected by communal balloting on a universal suffrage basis. The judicial system would be headed by a Supreme Constitutional Court, composed of one Greek Cypriot and one Turkish Cypriot and presided over by a contracted judge from a neutral country. In addition, separate Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot Communal Chambers were provided to exercise control in matters of religion, culture, and education. The entire structure of government was strongly bicommunal in composition and function, and thus perpetuated the distinctiveness and separation of the two communities.

The aspirations of the Greek Cypriots, for which they had fought during the emergency, were not realized. Cyprus would not be united with Greece, as most of the population had hoped, but neither would it be partitioned, which many had feared. The unsatisfactory but acceptable alternative was independence. The Turkish Cypriot community, which had fared very well at the bargaining table, accepted the agreements willingly. The provisions of the constitution and the new republic's territorial integrity were ensured by Britain, Greece, and Turkey under the Treaty of Guarantee. The Treaty of Alliance gave Greece and Turkey the rights to station military forces on the island (950 and 650 men, respectively). These forces were to be separate from Cypriot national forces, numbering 2,000 men in a six-to-four ratio of Greek Cypriots to Turkish Cypriots.

Makarios, accepting independence as the pragmatic course, returned to Cyprus on March 1, 1959. Grivas, still an ardent supporter of enosis, agreed to return to Greece after having obtained amnesty for his followers. The state of emergency was declared over on December 4, 1959. Nine days later, Makarios was elected president, despite opposition from right-wing elements who claimed that he had betrayed enosis and from AKEL members who objected to the British bases and the stationing of Greek and Turkish troops on the island. On the same day, Fazil Küçük, leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, was elected vice president without opposition.

The first general election for the House of Representatives took place on July 31, 1960. Of the thirty-five seats allotted to Greek Cypriots, thirty were won by supporters of Makarios and five by AKEL candidates. The fifteen Turkish Cypriot seats were all won by Küçük supporters. The constitution became effective August 16, 1960, on the day Cyprus formally shed its colonial status and became a republic. One month later, the new republic became a member of the UN, and in the spring of 1961 it was admitted to membership in the Commonwealth. In December 1961, Cyprus became a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

Independence did not ensure peace. Serious problems concerning the working and interpretation of the constitutional system appeared immediately. These problems reflected the sharp bicommunal division in the constitution and the historical and continuing distrust between the two communities. Turkish Cypriots, after eight decades of passivity under the British, had become a political entity. In the words of political scientist Nancy Crawshaw, "Turkish Cypriot nationalism, barely perceptible under British rule, came to equal that of the Greeks in fanaticism." One major point of contention concerned the composition of units under the six-to-four ratio decreed for the Cypriot army. Makarios wanted complete integration; Küçük favored segregated companies. On October 20, 1961, Küçük used his constitutional veto power as vicepresident to halt the development of an integrated force. Makarios then stated that the country could not afford an army anyway; planning and development of the national army ceased. Other problems developed in the application of the seven-to-three ratio of employment in government agencies.

Underground organizations of both communities revived during 1961 and 1962. EOKA and the TMT began training again, smuggling weapons in from Greece and Turkey, and working closely with national military contingents from Greece and Turkey that were stationed on the island in accordance with the Treaty of Alliance. Friction increased in 1962 regarding the status of municipalities. Each side accused the other of constitutional infractions, and the Supreme Constitutional Court was asked to rule on municipalities and taxes. The court's decisions were unsatisfactory to both sides, and an impasse was reached. Government under the terms of the 1960 constitution had come to appear impossible to many Cypriots.

Some Greek Cypriots believed the constitutional impasse could be ended through bold action. Accordingly, a plan of action--the Akritas Plan--was drawn up sometime in 1963 by the Greek Cypriot minister of the interior, a close associate of Archbishop Makarios. The plan's course of action began with persuading the international community that concessions made to the Turkish Cypriots were too extensive and that the constitution had to be reformed if the island were to have a functioning government. World opinion had to be convinced that the smaller community had nothing to fear from constitutional amendments that gave Greek Cypriots political dominance. Another of the plan's goals was the revocation of the Treaty of Guarantee and the Treaty of Alliance. If these aims were realized, enosis would become possible. If Turkish Cypriots refused to accept these changes and attempted to block them by force, the plan foresaw their violent subjugation "in a day or two" before foreign powers could intervene.

On November 30, 1963, Makarios advanced a thirteen-point proposal designed, in his view, to eliminate impediments to the functioning of the government. The thirteen points involved constitutional revisions, including the abandonment of the veto power by both the president and the vice president, an idea that certainly would have been rejected by the Turkish Cypriots, who thought of the veto as a form of life insurance for the minority community. Küçük asked for time to consider the proposal and promised to respond to it by the end of December. Turkey rejected it on December 16, declaring the proposal an attempt to undermine the constitution.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress