By Loucas Charalambous
WHEN I was writing my comment about the events of 1963 which was published in this space on December 22, I was not aware that the previous evening there was a ceremony in Nicosia to honour the fighters of what is now called the 1963-1964 period. Worse still, I was not aware that ‘honorary’ certificates were handed out by the president of the Republic.
In my comment I had written that what happened in December 1963 was a paranoid act, unique in history as the head of state (Archbishop Makarios) formed a paramilitary organisation and used it to dissolve the state. That today another president of this state (what is left of it) came to reward that foolish political crime confirms what I had written on December 22, that 50 years later we are still guilty of the same naive thinking.
We have learnt nothing from our catastrophic foolhardy behaviour. In fact, President Anastasiades’ behaviour might be even more inappropriate than that of Makarios. At least he, when he was embarking on the misadventure of the ‘Akrita plan’, did not know the tragic consequences.
Today’s president though has the benefit of hindsight. He knows that all the disasters we have suffered since then were essentially consequences of the trouble started by Makarios back then, even if others gave a helping hand to our course towards catastrophe.
I have taken this opportunity to take another look at the Akritas plan. I really believe that you learn from history (at least those who want to learn), which is why I have always had time for documents relating to the 1963 events. Whoever has not read this notorious plan cannot claim to know the Cyprus problem.
Its content, written, according to the late Glafcos Clerides, by the late Tassos Papadopoulos, is arguably one of the stupidest political texts ever put together. It describes, with incredible naivety all the different stages through which the ‘new struggle’ could overturn the agreements establishing the Republic. Makarios and his associates, betraying their simplistic views, considered these an easy target.
They came to the point of deluding themselves – as is made evident in the plan –that it was possible, with their brinkmanship, to even secure the “unilateral right to amend the constitution”. Not only this – they also admitted to setting up an illegal military organisation.
Part of the plan was “the lawful countering by forces of the state or by friendly military forces every intervention from within or outside”. Yet in another part of the plan they showed they recognised the possibility of a Turkish intervention as a result of their machinations. Such an intervention was even described as justified.
Regarding this they wrote: “If an intervention is threatened or implemented before stage (c), (that is before they scrapped the Treaty of Guarantee), then this intervention would be legally possible if not justified as well.” In the end, the intervention from within split Cyprus in two while the outside intervention was not averted by Akritas’ friendly military forces but be US President Lyndon B Johnson who issued an ultimatum to Turkish PM Ismet Inonu.
This was, more or less, how – despite the desperate pleas of Greece which had implored him from April 1963 to stop playing these dangerous games – Makarios and his fighters got the ball of destruction rolling on 21 December 1963. A few weeks earlier, on December 3, they had also placed a bomb at the statue of the EOKA hero Markos Drakos and blamed it on the Turks so as to create the right climate for their misguided schemes.
That was the start of all our problems. Yet 50 years on, we are actually celebrating its anniversary, refusing to learn the lessons of history.