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Timeline of a crisis

Backdrop to coup and invasion

BY 1974 much of the island’s Turkish Cypriot population was living in enclaves. The enclaves started forming after 1963 – three years after independence – when bloody clashes broke out between the two communities.

The main clashes started in December 1963 although there had been violent incidents between the two communities even before the British gave up control of the island.

The violence started after Archbishop Makarios proposed 13 amendments to the constitution, ostensibly to make it more functional following a deadlock in parliament caused by the vetoes of Turkish Cypriot legislators.

There was disagreement and the Turkish Cypriots left their posts – they say they were forced out – in parliament and the government.

Coup, July 15

THE National Guard – mainly led by Greek officers – and the EOKA B paramilitary organisation launched a coup, engineered by Greece’s military junta, to overthrow President Makarios. Makarios escaped and managed to flee overseas with the help of the British military bases.

Nicos Sampson, newspaper publisher and member of the Greek Cypriot paramilitary forces was installed as president.

Invasion, July 20

Turkish forces landed on the Kyrenia coast early in the morning of Saturday, July 20 while planes dropped paratroopers inland in what was dubbed the first invasion.

Ankara said it had a right to do so under the Treaty of Guarantee, co-signed by Britain, Greece, and Turkey. Turkey had been poised to invade twice before in the 1960s but they were stopped by the Americans.

Article II of the Treaty states “Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom likewise undertake to prohibit, as far as lies within their power, all activity having the object of promoting directly or indirectly either the union of the Republic of Cyprus with any other State, or the partition of the Island.”

Article IV further stipulates that “In so far as common or concerted action may prove impossible, each of the three guaranteeing Powers reserves the right to take action with the sole aim of re-establishing the state of affairs established by the present Treaty.”

A ceasefire was declared a couple of days later but was not really observed. Turkish troops expanded their foothold and advanced further during this time.

On July 23, the Greek junta collapsed under the weight of developments in Cyprus. Sampson was removed and Glafkos Clerides took over.

Talks were held in Geneva between July 25 and July 30 and a second round between August 8 and 14.

The second round of talks broke down when Clerides asked for 36 hours to consider Turkey’s proposal for a federation to give Turkish Cypriots autonomy. Turkey refused and a couple of hours later it launched its second offensive.

It more or less took over the territory – 37 per cent – it holds today, as was the initial plan, and declared a ceasefire on August 16.

Beyond the loss of life, well over 200,000 people from both communities lost their homes and properties as a result of the invasion.

In the weeks and months that followed virtually all Greek Cypriots living in the north were forced south, while the Turkish Cypriots in the south moved north.

On February 13, 1975, Turkey declared the occupied northern part as Turkish federated state of Cyprus. Eight years later, on November 15, 1983, the Turkish Cypriots unilaterally declared independence.

The breakaway state is only recognised by Turkey.

Compiled by George Psyllides

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