Political Developments after the Crisis of 1967

Cyprus Table of Contents

Seizing the opportune moment after the crisis had ended, in late December 1967 Turkish Cypriot leaders announced the establishment of a "transitional administration" to govern their community's affairs "until such time as the provisions of the Constitution of 1960 have been fully implemented." The body's president was Fazil Küçük, vice-president of the republic; the body's vice-president was Rauf Denktas, president of the Turkish Cypriot Communal Chamber. Nineteen governing articles, called the Basic Principles, were announced, and the provisional administration organized itself along lines that were similar to a cabinet. The provisional administration also formed a legislative assembly composed of the Turkish Cypriot members-in-absentia of the republic's House of Representatives and the members of the Turkish Cypriot Communal Chamber. The provisional administration did not state that the Communal Chamber was being abolished. Nor did it seek recognition as a government. Such actions would have been contrary to the provisions of the constitution and the Zurich-London agreements, and the Turkish Cypriots as well as the Turks scrupulously avoided any such abrogation. The Greek Cypriots immediately concluded that the formation of governing bodies was in preparation for partition. U Thant was also critical of the new organizations.

President Makarios, seeking a fresh mandate from his constituency, announced in January 1968 that elections would be held during February. Küçük, determined to adhere to the constitution, then announced that elections for vice president would also be held. Elections were subsequently held in the Turkish Cypriot community, which the Greek Cypriot government considered invalid; Küçük was returned to office unopposed. Two weeks later, Makarios received 220,911 votes (about 96 percent), and his opponent, Takis Evdokas, running on a straight enosis platform, received 8,577 votes. Even though there were 16,215 abstentions, Makarios's overwhelming victory was seen as a massive endorsement of his personal leadership and of an independent Cyprus. At his investiture, the president stated that the Cyprus problem could not be solved by force, but had to be worked out within the framework of the UN. He also said that he and his followers wanted to live peacefully in a unitary state where all citizens enjoyed equal rights. Some Cypriots opposed Makarios's conciliatory stance, and there would be an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate him in 1970.

In mid-1968 intercommunal talks under UN auspices began in Beirut. Glafkos Clerides, president of the House of Representatives, and Rauf Denktas were involved in the first stages of these talks, which lasted until 1974. Although many points of agreement were arrived at, no lasting agreements were reached. Turkish Cypriot proposals emphasized the importance of the local government of each ethnic community at the expense of the central government, while the Greek Cypriot negotiating teams stressed the dominance of the central authorities over local administration.

In the parliamentary elections that took place on July 5, 1970, fifteen seats went to the Unified Democratic Party (Eniaion), nine to AKEL, seven to the Progressive Coalition, two to the socialist coalition, and two to the Independents. The enosis opposition did not capture any seats. Eniaion, led by Clerides and based on an urban constituency, was a moderate party of the right that generally supported Makarios. The Progressive Coalition had an ideological base almost the same as Eniaion's, but was based in the rural areas. The socialist group was led by Vassos Lyssarides, personal physician to Makarios; its two seats in the House of Representatives did not reflect its significant influence in Cypriot affairs and the personal power of its leader. The Independents were a left-wing noncommunist group similar to EDEK but lacking its dynamic leadership. The fifteen seats reserved for Turkish Cypriots went to followers of Denktas.

In the early 1970s, Cyprus was in fact a partitioned country. Makarios was the president of the republic, but his authority did not extend into the Turkish enclaves. The House of Representatives sat as the legislature, but only the thirty-five Greek Cypriot seats were functioning as part of a central government. De facto, the partition sought for years by Turks and Turkish Cypriots existed, but intercommunal strife had not ended.

In the summer of 1971, tension built up between the two communities, and incidents became more numerous. Sometime in the late summer or early fall, Grivas (who had attacked Makarios as a traitor in an Athens newspaper) returned secretly to the island and began to rebuild his guerrilla organization, which became known as the National Organization of Cypriot Fighters (Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agonistan B--EOKA B). Three new newspapers advocating enosis were also established at the same time. All of these activities were funded by the military junta that controlled Greece. The junta probably would have agreed to some form of partition similar to the Acheson Plan to settle the Cyprus question, but at the time the overthrow of Makarios was the primary objective, and the junta backed Grivas toward that end. Grivas, from hiding, directed terrorist attacks and propaganda assaults that shook the Makarios government, but the president remained a powerful, popular leader.

In January 1972, a new crisis rekindled intercommunal tensions when an Athens newspaper reported that the Makarios government had received a shipment of Czechoslovakian arms. The guns were intended for Makarios's own elite guard; the Greek government, hoping to overthrow Makarios through Grivas, EOKA B, and the National Guard, objected to the import of the arms. The authorities in Ankara were more than willing to join Athens in such a protest, and both governments demanded that the Czechoslovakian munitions be turned over to UNFICYP. Makarios was eventually forced to comply.

Relations between Nicosia and Athens were at such a low ebb that the colonels of the Greek junta, recognizing that they had Makarios in a perilous position, issued an ultimatum for him to reform his government and rid it of ministers who had been critical of the junta. The colonels, however, had not reckoned with the phenomenal popularity of the archbishop, and once again mass demonstrations proved that Makarios had the people behind him. In the end, however, Makarios bowed to Greek pressure and reshuffled the cabinet.

Working against Makarios was the fact that most officers of the Cypriot National Guard were Greek regulars who supported the junta and its desire to remove him from office and achieve some degree of enosis. Grivas was also a threat to the archbishop. He remained powerful and to some extent was independent of the junta that had permitted his return to Cyprus. While the Greek colonels were at times prepared to make a deal with Turkey about Cyprus, Grivas was ferociously opposed to any arrangement that did not lead to complete enosis.

In the spring of 1972, Makarios faced an attack from another quarter. The three bishops of the Church of Cyprus demanded that he resign as president, because his temporal duties violated canon law. Moving astutely, Markarios foiled the three bishops and had them defrocked in the summer of 1973. Before choosing their replacements, he increased the number of bishoprics to five, thereby reducing the power of individual bishops.

Grivas and his one-track pursuit of enosis through terrorism had become an embarrassment to the Greek Cypriot government, as well as to the Greek government that had sponsored his return to the island. His fame and popularity in both countries, however, prevented his removal. That problem was solved on January 27, 1974, when the general died of a heart attack. Makarios granted his followers an amnesty, hoping that EOKA B would disappear after the death of its leader. Terrorism continued, however, and the 100,000 mourners who attended Grivas's funeral indicated the enduring popularity of his political aims.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress