IT WAS very interesting that on yesterday’s 40th anniversary of the Greek Junta’s coup against President Makarios the lead story in Haravghi, the mouthpiece of AKEL, reported that the US “actively participated in Makarios’ overthrow.” It cited the findings of an investigation carried out by the Greek Parliament in the early eighties, which provided some circumstantial evidence to support the claim.
The evidence on which the case was built was that the US had reportedly given assurances to Brigadier Ioannides – the leader of the Junta – that Turkey would not intervene if Makarios was toppled, a development the Americans supposedly favoured. Who had supposedly given these assurances, was never revealed by the investigation which also concluded – as Haravghi reported yesterday, as additional confirmation of the hypothesis – that US failure to stop the Junta from staging a coup, as it had done in 1972, pointed to its guilt.
These are very weak grounds to support the US-NATO (the latter was implicated by association) involvement theory, made even weaker by the recent publication of a book about the period (The Invasion and the Big Powers, by Makarios Drousiotis), based, to large extent, on US government documents about the coup and the invasion, which included minutes of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s meetings and transcripts of his telephone conversations.
The documents published suggest the US government had been surprised by the news of the coup, and its primary concern was controlling a situation that could have led to a war between two NATO allies – Greece and Turkey. As regards the Turkish invasion, the archives showed that it was condoned and tolerated by Kissinger, who made no secret of his wish to stay on good terms with Turkey, which he valued as an ally.
The book, featuring extensive use of archive material has subverted AKEL’s anti-West narrative about the coup and the invasion as a US-NATO conspiracy that became the official mantra in Cyprus over the last 40 years because it suited everyone. The claim that Greek Cypriots were victims of a Western conspiracy absolved all politicians of any responsibility for mistakes and bad judgment in the run-up to the coup and invasion and allowed Kremlin-controlled AKEL to promote the big myth that the virtuous Soviet Union was on our side in stark contrast to the evil West.
This myth was also laid to rest by the book, which indicated that the Soviet Union showed as much tolerance to Turkey’s aggression against Cyprus as the US because a NATO-rift perfectly suited its strategic interests. In fact, the Soviet Union, which never officially condemned Turkey’s invasion, had given full diplomatic support to Ankara at the time. This is why AKEL, upset over the collapse of its conspiracy theories, was at pains to repeat its anti-West myths yesterday, the 40th anniversary of the coup that led to the invasion.
It might not make much difference now, but it is good to know the facts, uncontaminated by Soviet, Cold War propaganda, even 40 years later.