Cypriot Intercommunal Violence - Intercommunal Violence Continued

Intercommunal Violence Continued

An armed conflict was triggered on December 21, 1963 which is known as Bloody Christmas. Eric Solsten described the events as "a Greek Cypriot police patrol, ostensibly checking identification documents, stopped a Turkish Cypriot couple on the edge of the Turkish quarter. A hostile crowd gathered, shots were fired, and two Turkish Cypriots were killed." It was the spark that caused the fire.

On 21 December 1963, armed Turkish Cypriots from TMT clashed with Greek Cypriots loyal to Yorgadjis. Heavily armed Greek Cypriots along with the extensive might of paramilitaries of Grivas launched an attack for discovering these weapons on Turkish Cypriots in Nicosia and Larnaca.

Immediately after this, the small resistance of Turkish Cypriots took positions in areas which were within the Turkish quarter of Nicosia and started action. The same happened immediately in other cities, except Kyrenia, while Turkish Cypriots proclaimed the rebellion and in large villages where were majority or in areas where there were groups of purely Turkish Cypriot villages. Also, men's TOUR.DY.K. they moved out of their camp and took up battle positions along the Nicosia-Kyrenia road, which were cut off. Cut off was also the Nicosia - Limassol residents of the Turkish Cypriot village Kofinou. 103 Turkish Cypriots villages were attacked. 700 Turkish Cypriot hostages, including women and children, were taken from the northern suburbs of Nicosia (into Greek-Cypriot houses, at Omorphita north suburb, which in turn became refugees in their own country). However U Thant (UN) secretary general justifies in his annual report of 1964, the right of the unarmed majority of the Greeks to defend their homes from the well armed TMT and the hideous British-Turkish diplomacy that incited the Turks to revolt and impose a form of apartheid on the island. Nikos Sampson driving a digging vehicle himself, led a group of Greek Cypriot irregulars into the mixed suburb of Omorphita after the Greek Cypriot neighbourhood of the suburb was attacked by the Turkish Cypriot militia. Greek historian Ronaldos Katsaunis stated that he was an eye witness to the retaliation murder and communal burial of 32 Turkish Cypriot civilians in 1963 in Famagusta. Contemporaneous newspapers also reported about the forceful exodus of the Turkish Cypriots from their homes. According to the Times journal issued in 1964, threats, shootings and attempts of arson are committed against the Turkish Cypriots to force them out of their homes. Daily Express wrote that "25,000 Turks have already been forced to leave their homes" The Guardian reported a massacre of Turks at Limassol on 16 February 1964.

Pierre Oberling noted that according to official sources, the 1963-64 crisis resulted in the death of 364 Turkish Cypriots and 174 Greek Cypriots.

Turkey had by now readied its fleet and its fighter jets became visible over Nicosia. Turkey was dissuaded from direct involvement by the creation of a United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) in 1964. Despite the negotiated ceasefire in Nicosia, attacks on the Turkish Cypriot persisted, particularly in Limmasol. Concerned about the possibility of a Turkish invasion, Makarios undertook the creation of a Greek Cypriot conscript-based army called the “National Guard”. A general from Greece took charge of the army, whilst a further 20,000 well-equipped officers and men were smuggled from Greece into Cyprus. Turkey threatened to intervene once more, but was prevented by a strongly worded letter from the American President Lyndon B. Johnson, anxious to avoid a conflict between NATO allies Greece and Turkey at the height of the Cold War.

Turkish Cypriots had by now established an important bridgehead at Kokkina, providing them with arms, volunteers and materials from Turkey and abroad. Seeing this incursion of foreign weapons and troops as a major threat, the Cypriot government invited George Grivas to return from Greece as commander of the Greek troops on the island and launch a major attack on the bridgehead. Turkey retaliated by dispatching its fighter jets to bomb Greek positions, causing Makarios to threaten an attack on every Turkish Cypriot village on the island if the bombings did not cease. The conflict had now drawn in Greece and Turkey, with both countries amassing troops on their Thracian borders. Efforts at mediation by Dean Acheson, a former U.S. Secretary of State, and UN-appointed mediator Galo Plaza had failed, all the while the division of the two communities becoming more apparent. Greek Cypriot forces were estimated at some 30,000, including the National Guard and the large contingent from Greece. Defending the Turkish Cypriot enclaves was a force of approximately 5,000 irregulars, led by a Turkish colonel, but lacking the equipment and organization of the Greek forces.

The situation worsened in 1967, when a military junta overthrew the democratically-elected government of Greece, and began applying pressure on Makarios to achieve enosis. Makarios, not wishing to become part of a military dictatorship or trigger a Turkish invasion, began to distance himself from the goal of enosis. This caused tensions with the junta in Greece as well as George Grivas in Cyprus. Grivas's control over the National Guard and Greek contingent was seen as a threat to Makarios's position, who now feared a possible coup. Grivas escalated the conflict when his armed units began patrolling the Turkish Cypriot enclaves of Ayios Theodhoros and Kophinou, and on November 15 engaged in heavy fighting with the Turkish Cypriots.

By the time of his withdrawal 26 Turkish Cypriots had been killed. Turkey replied with an ultimatum demanding that Grivas be removed from the island, that the troops smuggled from Greece in excess of the limits of the Treaty of Alliance be removed, and that the economic blockades on the Turkish Cypriot enclaves be lifted. Grivas resigned his position and 12,000 Greek troops were withdrawn. Makarios now attempted to consolidate his position by reducing the number of National Guard troops, and by creating a paramilitary force loyal to Cypriot independence. In 1968, acknowledging that enosis was now all but impossible, Makarios stated "A solution by necessity must be sought within the limits of what is feasible which does not always coincide with the limits of what is desirable.

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