From independence to 1963, it proved impossible to construct any basis
of trust, and many areas of government were unable to function. The
Cypriots found themselves in the position of not even being able to execute
simple tax laws due to the way in which legislation was being used by the
Turkish Cypriot leadership and their political mentors in Turkey. The Greek
Cypriots claimed with some justification that the Turkish Cypriots were
using partitionist and non co-operative tactics, which was made possible by
the constitution itself.
It was against this background that the Akritas plan emerged as a
political strategy to remove the restrictions imposed by the 1960
constitution, and to abrogate both the Treaty of Guarantee and the Treaty
of Alliance, which allowed for armed intervention in Cyprus by Britain,
Greece and Turkey, not unilateral intervention (but not by military action
by any one state). President Makarios sought a way of breaking the deadlock
in the administration and submitted for discussion, in accordance with the Akritas
plan, 13 possible constitutional amendments. Copies of the proposed
amendments were sent to Ankara for information purposes only since Turkey
was a guarantor power. Yet even before the Turkish Cypriot leadership could
reply, Ankara rejected the proposals as impossible, even as a basis for
discussion, though the opinion of Turkish Cypriots had not been sought and
this effectively ended the Akritas plan. Makarios had not referred to Athens
before making his proposals, but was acting quite properly as the head of
state of what was, after all, an independent state. Turkish Cypriot
propagandists, however, cite the Akritas plan as proof of a Greek Cypriot
plot to commit genocide against them, by somehow equating enosis, the
subject of the plan, with genocide. This is clearly a nonsense; it was
simply a constitutional framework devised to break a constituted social
The inter-communal violence that followed was triggered on 21 December 1963 by an incident in Nicosia involving the shooting of a policeman. A police
patrol car with Greek Cypriot officers driving down Hermes Street in the
old city of Nicosia stopped a car for a routine check. Shots were fired and
a young Turk was killed. The dispute that had been going on for the past
three years relating to the way in which the constitution was operating,
and the resultant tensions (all entirely of a political nature), now
exploded into a spate of shootings which spread right across the island. On
22 December 1963 all Turkish Cypriot Government officials and politicians
left their posts in a mass political protest. Overnight, all these
individuals quit their jobs before any investigation had taken place. This organised
reaction suggests that their actions were part of a pre-planned strategy in
accordance with the tactics followed during the last few years.
Between 21 and 26 December 1963 the conflict was again centred in the Omorphita
suburb of Nicosia, which had been an area of tension back in 1958. The
participants now were Greek Cypriot irregulars and Turkish Cypriot
paramilitaries, and numbers of civilians who were caught in the crossfire
and chaos that ensued over the Christmas week. Both President Makarios and
Dr Kutcuk issued calls of peace, but they were ignored. The two leaders met
for the last time on 24 December 1963. Meanwhile, within a week of the
violence flaring up, the Turkish army contingent had moved out of its
barracks and seized the most strategic position on the island across the Nicosia
to Kyrenia road, the historic jugular vein of the island. So crucial was
this road to Turkish strategic thinking that they retained control of that
road until 1974, at which time it acted as a crucial link in Turkey’s
military invasion. From 1963 up to the point of the Turkish invasion of 20 July 1974, Greek Cypriots who wanted to use the road could only do so if accompanied by
a UN convoy. It was, however, a baffling strategy for protecting the
Turkish Cypriot minority. Again, this demonstrated the true motivation of Turkey.
The fighting over Christmas week 1963 saw numerous civilian casualties.
Hostage taking emerged on both sides, as did acts of arson and murder.
Although many hostages were returned, many remained missing, presumed dead.
The worst incidents yet again occurred in Omorphita. False rumours were
spread that some Turkish Cypriot patients were taken from Nicosia general
hospital and killed by paramilitaries in order to provoke revenge. In Ayios
Vasilios, on 12 January 1964, a mass grave was discovered which contained
the bodies of 21 Turkish Cypriots who were presumed to have been killed in
or near Ayios Vasilios on 24 December 1963. One of the most tragic acts of
the period was the killing of the wife and children of a Major, Nihat Ilhan,
attached to the Turkish army contingent. Their bodies were later discovered
in the bath of their home. Hasan Kudum who was hurt but survived the
carnage, when asked by his friends if those that came to kill them spoke
between them Greek or Turkish stated: There were persons who spoke Greek
and there were persons who spoke Turkish. Nihat Ilhan, believing that the
Turkish nationalist MHP Grey Wolves were responsible went to Kenan Coskun,
known as Bozkurt (or Grey wolf) and asked him: Has the organisation killed
my family in order to secure the intervention of Turkey in the island? The
answer given by Kenan Coskun and which bothered Nihat Ilhan was the
following: Go and take revenge. He did not tell him from where to take
revenge, writes journalist Sener Levent (Africa 28/8/2007). The tactics of TMT were now fully reaping their rewards. The
casualty figures over that Christmas week in 1963 vary. British military
sources on the ground estimate about 100 dead on each side.
Considerable fear was felt throughout the island and about 20,000
Turkish Cypriots left their homes. Much of this movement was spontaneous
and hasty following some local incident of violence. However, once they had
moved, many Turkish Cypriots were placed under heavy pressure by TMT not to
return to their homes. Clearly, the necessary territorial basis for
partition was being established.
Both Greek and Turkish Cypriots were displaced during the period of
inter-communal strife in 1963 and 1964. A Liaison Committee was established,
comprising of representatives of the three guarantor powers and the two
communities. This established that in February 1964 5,500 Turkish Cypriots
and 1,600 Greek Cypriots had been displaced because of the fighting. The UN
Secretary General estimated that eventually 25,000 Turkish Cypriots moved
from their homes to nearby villages/towns. It therefore appears that 5,500
Turkish Cypriots were displaced, and that a further 19,500 were moved on
the directions of the Turkish military and Turkish Cypriot leadership.
A number of points are worth noting. The Liaison Committee consisted of
representatives of Britain, Greece and Turkey and the Greek and Turkish
communities. The first session took place on 29 December 1963, and was chaired by Duncan Sandys, Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, and
subsequent meetings were chaired by the British High Commissioner Sir
Arthur Clark. A sub-committee was given the task to examine the number of
displaced persons, in its report of 1 February 1964, found that there were
5,500 Turkish Cypriots and 1,600 Greek Cypriots displaced. Yet, the UN
Secretary General’s Report to the Security Council (15/6/64 Doc. S/5764) found that: `a large number of Turkish Cypriot villages from some
villages with a mixed population, and from some very small Turkish Cypriot
villages, moved out into more predominantly Turkish villages and
towns.’ It appears that most of the Turkish Cypriots displaced were
moved from their villages by the Turkish Cypriot leadership in order to
back their policy of partitioning the island.
The partitioning of the island was not possible without segregation and
movement of population, because Greek, Turkish and mixed villages were
scattered around the island, with few concentrations of homogeneous
Fighting in Nicosia ended when British forces intervened at the request
of President Makarios. The Green line was established between the Greek and
Turkish quarters of Nicosia and became a permanent feature of the city. The
demarcation of the capital was followed by the eviction of the entire
Armenian community which happened to fall in the Turkish sector. The Turks
believed that the Armenians were politically aligned with the Greeks and
used this as justification for their forced expulsion. However, it was also
a necessity in the long term goal of creating an ethnically pure Turkish
Between January and August 1964 much of the violence that took place was
of a sporadic nature. The size of Cyprus, with its customs and strong
traditions, the news of an incident in one village would spread fear and
apprehension to neighbouring villages. The most innocuous incident was
capable of sparking off confrontation in this highly charged atmosphere.
Two examples serve to illustrate this point. The first occurred in Ayios Sozomenos,
an ethnically mixed village in the district of Nicosia. On 6 February 1964 the Greeks were attacked and two were killed. Retaliation followed by the
Greeks, and seven Turks were killed in further clashes, as well as a
further nine Greeks.
The second incident was triggered in Paphos where a Turk was killed by a
sniper. The Turks retaliated and a heated exchange followed. Six Greeks and
a Turk were killed. Further violence flared on the nights of 8/9 March when
14 Turks and 11 Greeks were killed. These incidents demonstrate that in an
atmosphere as highly charged as that of Cyprus in 1964, shootings were
triggered by the slightest prompting and could quickly escalate.
Most incidents were local and retaliatory in nature, usually a specific
response to a particular incident. This is, for example, illustrated by the
hostage exchange that took place in March 1964. Following numerous
kidnappings and hostage taking, an exchange was organised on 7 March. About
225 Turkish hostages had been seized by Greek paramilitaries, of which
around 175 had never returned, while about 41 Greeks remained missing. The
exchange was designed to reduce tension, but in fact it had the opposite
effect. Within 24 hours of the exchange a number of shooting incidents
occurred throughout Cyprus. Again, revenge appears to have been the main
In Ktima, Turkish Cypriots took as hostages hundreds of Greek Cypriots
who were shopping in the local market. The Turkish Cypriots claimed that
their action was prompted by the reports of the Turkish Cypriot hostages
who had gone missing. In total, 14 Turks and 11 Greeks lost their lives in Ktima.
Inter-communal contact within Ktima virtually ceased. However, such
confrontations, far from being a Greek Cypriot strategy to annihilate the
Turks, were symptomatic of the fear which had spread all over the island.
There is no evidence to suggest that there was anything pre-meditated about
any of this conflict.
In mid-February 1964, inter-communal fighting intensified in Limassol which
looked like provoking a Turkish invasion. This prompted Britain to appeal
to the Security Council of the UN. Subsequently, on 4 March 1964, the Security Council passed a resolution to establish a peace keeping force in Cyprus.
By 27 March 1964 the first UN units arrived to take up official duties.
Their arrival did not prevent the procurement of arms to Cyprus for both
sides. Evidently, Turkish Cypriot nationalists were trying to increase the
temperature. The Greek Cypriots formed a National Guard, and on 4 April 1964 launched an attack on the north Western coastal villages of Kokkina and Mansoura,
where the Turks had established a bridgehead for the importation of arms
and the landing of heavily armed troops from Turkey.
There was a violence pattern which was repeated throughout the island:
arming Turkish nationalists and securing strategic positions for them; in
the meantime, armed Greeks were bound to respond with force. Although
Turkish Cypriots were sparse in the Kokkina area, they had nevertheless
allegedly been led there in order to provide safety. The clear intention,
however, was to establish an enclave to justify the opening of a salient
within easy reach of Turkey. In the meantime, the most significant
consequence of the conflict on the island was the return of General Grivas
to head the newly formed National Guard, and to bring discipline to the
Greek paramilitary irregulars. From this point on, Grivas and Makarios were
increasingly at odds over policy matters. Grivas had always put loyalty to Greece
above that of a commitment to Cyprus as an independent republic.
In August 1964, another major battle took place in the Kokkina Mansoura
area. Fighting broke out on 3 August and continued until 6 August, during
which the Turkish air force bombed Greek villages indiscriminately with
napalm. The clash at Kokkina drew sharp attention to the realities of
Cypriot vulnerability to the power politics of Turkey. A cease-fire was
reached on 9 August and drew to a close this latest serious outbreak of violence.
The resulting casualties, however, give an interesting insight into
these events. According to Turkish sources, the fights at Kokkina resulted
in 53 Greek Cypriots dead and 125 injured. On the Turkish side, only 12
fatalities and 32 wounded are recorded. These figures reflect the degree of
military preparedness on the Turkish side and again emphasise that the
Turkish Cypriot strategy was one of occupying strategic positions to
facilitate territorial gain through armed rebellion, although camouflaged
in the language of minority protection.
By the time that the cease-fire was achieved, every Turkish enclave in Cyprus
had become an entrenched position, protected by UNFICYP forces. Enclaves
now existed in every major town except Kyrenia. In the Lefka area there
were 8,000 well-armed Turkish Cypriots and 1,000 TMT fighters strategically
positioned to join up with any landing near Xeros. The big enclave north of
Nicosia almost reached the sea at Temblos in the Kyrenia district. At Ktima,
the Turkish position overlooked the coast from a strong defensive position.
The Larnaca enclave commanded a piece of coast ideal for the use of light
landing craft. At Kophinou in the Larnaca region, Turkish positions
controlled the main roads from Nicosia to Limassol and Larnaca. The Castle
at St Hilarion to the Pentadactylos mountain which dominates the main road
from Nicosia to the northern port of Kyrenia, was another strategic
position where skirmishes occurred and which became a crucial Turkish
stronghold. Military analysis suggests that on instructions from Turkey,
Turkish Cypriots began deliberately to occupy these strategic areas in
preparation for further conflict.
The creation of enclaves was also a flagrant violation of land property
rights at the expense of Greek Cypriots.
Ownership by Ethnic Group:
Greek/Armenian/Maronite Cypriots 4,123,813 -> 60.9%
Turkish Cypriots 848,858 -> 12.3%
Others 32,120 -> 0.5%
State Land -> 26.3%
Source:Department of Lands and Surveys (refer to Annex 14 in Volume II
of the"Memorandum by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic
of Cyprus" submitted to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of
Commons, 27 February 1987.
The table demonstrates in fact that the withdrawal of the Turkish
Cypriots into enclaves was inconsistent with their ownership of land on the
island. During this period of prolonged crisis in Cyprus, the Turkish
Government forcibly expelled Greeks from Constantinople. The Greek
Government, on the contrary, took no retaliatory measures against the Moslem
minority in Greek Western Thrace. However, this did not stop the Turkish
air force from harassing the Dodecanese (Rhodes) and Greek islands lying
closest to the Turkish Aegean coast.
In Cyprus, the total reported number of casualties over the period 21 December 1963 to 9 August 1964 vary only slightly. Turkish sources estimate about 350
Turkish deaths and about 200 Greek fatalities. The numbers include deaths
resulting from rogue paramilitary action, as well as from exclusively
Below is a set of rules issued by the Turkish Cypriot leadership to the
Turkish Cypriots on 18 December 1964: