By George Psyllides
The Greek parliament has agreed to grant Cyprus full access to material collected by a committee that investigated the 1974 coup and subsequent Turkish invasion, it was announced on Monday.
The deal was struck during a visit by House President Yiannakis Omirou to Athens.
A co-operation protocol signed by the two sides grants the Cypriot parliament access to the material collected during the Greek parliament’s investigation into the events.
The information, known as the Cyprus File, can be found in the archives of the Greek parliament, but despite repeated requests it had refused to hand it over until now.
From 1967 to 1974, Greece was ruled by a military junta who played a pivotal role in developments in Cyprus, especially during the coup.
“At some stage this committee should leave courtesy aside and take our suitcases and go to the office of the (Greek) prime minister even if he does not see us, or the president of (the Greek) parliament, and ask them,” DIKO MP Zaharias Koulias said back in 2010.
Koulias was a member of a parliamentary committee investigating the coup and the invasion.
The committee concluded that the Greek junta, egged on by NATO circles, was primarily responsible.
Its report does not apportion any criminal or other liability for the coup that toppled Archbishop Makarios, as this was not part of the parliamentary committee’s terms of reference.
Yet its wording unmistakably puts the blame squarely on the military dictatorship that ruled Greece in the 1960s and 1970s.
The junta is said to have consistently undermined Makarios and Cypriot independence from the outset.
“A fundamental policy in various circles in Athens was the prevention of any Soviet influence over Cyprus. This would be achieved through the imposition of a solution that would consolidate NATO interests on the basis of a two-way Enosis [i.e. partitioning Cyprus, giving one part to Turkey and one part to Greece], but there was lack of awareness of Turkey’s broader strategic objectives,” the report concludes.
“To that end, Archbishop Makarios needed to be removed from power as he stood in the way of this policy. His removal would come about either via his voluntary withdrawal from the presidency (naturally following pressure) or via a violent overthrow.”
Only the late Nicos Sampson, the man who was installed as president by the coupists – and lasted eight days – stood trial and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Three years into his sentence he was allowed to go to France on medical grounds. He returned to prison in Cyprus in 1990 but was freed again a few months later. He died in 2001.
Sixty-two civil servants who had been sacked following the events were pardoned in the 1990s.