Cyprus Table of Contents
Three years of peace followed Cypriot independence in 1960. Beneath the peace, however, lay the resentment of some Greek Cypriots at the prevention of enosis and a growing conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots over the bicommunal provisions of the constitution. The Cypriot army, which was to consist of 1,200 Greek Cypriots and 800 Turkish Cypriots, never materialized because of differences over the six-to-four formula for integrating the force. EOKA had officially disbanded and surrendered its weapons in 1959, and Grivas had returned to Greece. In fact, however, many former EOKA members had retained their weapons, and some joined groups of armed irregulars. The Turkish Cypriot community responded to the growth of these groups by reviving the TMT in early 1962. These forces received arms and assistance from the Greek and Turkish contingents assigned to the island.
In late November 1963, the president, Archbishop Makarios, introduced a thirteen-point proposal to amend the constitution in a way that would ensure the dominance of Greek Cypriots (see Republic of Cyprus , ch. 1). In the tense atmosphere that ensued, a street brawl broke out on December 21 in Nicosia, between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriot police. This fight was followed by major attacks by Greek Cypriot irregulars in Nicosia and Larnaca. Looting and destruction of Turkish villages forced many Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into defensible enclaves guarded by the TMT paramilitary. Fearful that Turkey might carry out its threat to invade, Makarios agreed to British intervention from its bases on the island. On December 27 British troops assumed positions between opposing irregular units, and the fighting, which had claimed 100 lives on each side during the previous week, subsided temporarily. The cease-fire held in Nicosia, but by mid-February 1964 Greek Cypriot attacks at Limassol brought a renewed threat of Turkish landings. Britain appealed to the UN Security Council, and on March 4, 1964, the UN approved a resolution to establish an international peace-keeping force for duty in Cyprus. Contingents from Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, and Sweden joined the British soldiers already in place; together they made up the 6,500-member United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), which was still present on the island, though at much reduced strength, a quarter of a century later (see United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus , this ch.).
In June 1964, the National Guard was formed by the Greek Cypriot government, which also instituted male conscription. The National Guard absorbed the various private armies into a single national military force loyal to the government and served as a deterrent to a Turkish invasion. Greek Army soldiers were clandestinely transferred to the guard on a large scale; by midsummer the National Guard consisted of an estimated 24,000 officers and men, about half from the Greek Army. Grivas, thought to be the only man who could enforce discipline over the disparate armed Greek Cypriot factions, returned from Athens to command the National Guard.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Cypriot community, in its newly created enclaves, organized militarily under the TMT, supported by conscription of Turkish Cypriot youths. Turkish Army troops trained the Turkish Cypriot forces, totaling an estimated 10,000 fighters, and directed the defense of the enclaves. Outbreaks of fighting continued, although the presence of UNFICYP prevented them from erupting into major hostilities. In August 1964, the National Guard carried out a coordinated sea and land assault against Kokkina on the northwest coast, in an effort to cut off the major Turkish Cypriot supply line to the mainland. Heavy attacks by Turkish jet fighter-bombers, operating beyond the range of the Greek Air Force, halted the Greek Cypriot offensive. Several years of peace followed, while the two communities improved their military readiness.
In November 1967, units of the National Guard, at the instigation of Grivas, launched a massive artillery assault on two Turkish Cypriot villages following a dispute over police patrols. The crisis was defused when United States mediation brought an agreement that endured for the next seven years: all foreign troops in excess of those permitted by the Treaty of Alliance were to be removed from Cyprus, and the National Guard was to be dismantled in exchange for an immediate Turkish demobilization. Grivas was recalled to Athens, along with about 10,000 of the Greek troops assigned to the National Guard. The National Guard, however, was not dissolved.
Data as of January 1991
Cyprus Table of Contents