1960 Republic of Cyprus
Breakdown of the 1960 Constitution
The 1960 Constitution proved its inadequacy soon after the Republic was established. The Greek-Cypriots wanted to end the separate Turkish-Cypriot municipal councils permitted by the British in 1958, but made subject to review under the 1960 agreements. 

For many Greek-Cypriots these municipalities were the first stage on the way to the partition they feared. Moreover, they complained that a Turkish-Cypriot veto on the budget (in response to alleged failures to meet obligations to the Turkish-Cypriots) made government immensely difficult, indeed well-nigh impossible. 

The Turkish-Cypriots had also vetoed the amalgamation of Turkish-Cypriot and Greek-Cypriot troops into the same units. In the upshot in November 1963, [the then] President Makarios proposed 13 amendments to the Constitution. The main features of these proposals were:

(i) to have the Greek-Cypriot President and the Turkish-Cypriot Vice-President elected by the Greek-Cypriot dominated House of Representatives as a whole (not by the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish- Cypriot members separately);

(ii) to remove the veto powers of the Turkish-Cypriots;

(iii) to reduce the Turkish-Cypriot component in the civil and military arms of government;

(iv) to abolish the separate community voting on fiscal, electoral, and some other matters; and

(v) to unify the municipalities.

Basis of the 'Akritas Plan'
These moves are said to have formed part of the alleged "Akritas Plan". This was a plan designed to end the new republic by quickly suppressing Turkish-Cypriot reactions to `imposed' constitutional change before outside intervention could be mounted. Once the essential unitary nature of the state had been demonstrated to the outside world, and the treaties of guarantee rendered unnecessary and inoperable, the state would be in a position, say through plebiscite, to declare enosis [the annexation of the island to Greece]. Certainly after 1960, enosis was not dead. Makarios still proclaimed his belief in it, which, if less sincerely held than hitherto, continued greatly to alarm the Turkish-Cypriots.
Archbishop Makarios

Archbishop Makarios 

The proposed constitutional changes were rejected not just by the Turkish Cypriots, but also by Turkey. Greece supported Makarios on the unworkability of the Constitution. The feeling was running high, the Turkish-Cypriots smelling enosis in the air. An incident between Greek Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots on 21 December 1963 resulting in the deaths of a Turkish-Cypriot couple, led to the launching of `a major attack on the Nicosian Turkish-Cypriots, the first stage in a campaign to settle the problem by force... The Greek-Cypriots aimed at the subjugation of the Nicosia Turks by a swift knockout blow, and, in consequence, the automatic surrender of the Turkish-Cypriot communities in the rest of the island. The Turkish-Cypriots were largely defenceless, the Turkish-Cypriot police having been disarmed as a result of a ruse on the part of the Greek-Cypriot minister' [see N.Crawshaw's "The Cyprus Revolt", pp 336-7; P.Oberling's "The Road to Bellapais", pp 87 for more detail on this]. The incident refereed to above `was followed immediately by a major Greek-Cypriot attack by the various para-military forces against the Turks in Nicosia and Larnaca' [see Keith Kyle's "Cyprus", p10]. During these early stages of violence that was to continue for the next decade, some 25,000 Turkish-Cypriots became refugees in their own country by fleeing from their villages to safer areas.

Greek-Cypriot writers provide a different sort of version of these dire events which are never forgotten by the Turkish-Cypriots in Northern Cyprus. [Polyviou,1980, in his "Cyprus Conflict and Negotiations" writes `an argument broke out, shots were fired, it is not clear by whom. Given the prevailing atmosphere of tension it did not take long for serious fighting to engulf the island', p.34] If all this appalling violence was part of the Akritas Plan, it did not achieve its objective of crushing the Turkish-Cypriots at one blow. The situation in Nicosia at least was calmed down by British troops. Later in a conference of the guarantor powers in London, Makarios demanded to end the 1960 agreements -since they did not work- and complete independence, with a unitary government able to amend the 1960 Constitution. The Turkish-Cypriots were offered minority rights, in accordance with the Greek-Cypriot view that they constituted a minority, not a community. In view of the violence, the spirited Turkish-Cypriot response, and Turkish support, not surprisingly these demands fell of deaf ears. If there was an Akritas Plan, as seems well attested, it was based on self-delusion as to the realities of the situation, local, and international.

Despite the breakdown of the 1960 Constitution, and its unilateral amendment by the Greek-Cypriots, in 1964 the UN Security Council (Resolution 186) referred to the Government of Cyprus in a way which clearly implied that the government manned only now by the Greek- Cypriots was the legitimate government of Cyprus. It was important of course, not to condone partition, but the subsequent recognition by all states, save Turkey, of the Greek-Cypriots as `the legitimate' government of all the island is deeply resented in Northern Cyprus, where it has had serious economic and other effects. For many states with minorities, the Treatment of the Turkish-Cypriots as an equal community created a dangerous precedent and many member states of the United Nations Assembly had minorities.

UNFICYP - United Nations Force in CyprusIn February 1964 Britain was relieved that a UN force was to be established to help maintain, or secure, peace in Cyprus. The British troops manning the Green Line set up to divide Greek from Turkish Nicosia would then be able to be withdrawn or operate under a UN flag. However, violence continued without interruption, and ominously some 20,000 mainland Greek troops entered the island illegally, as too, a little later in June 1964, did Grivas, now active again. In August 1964 he attacked the Turkish-Cypriot area of Kokkina (Erenkoy). This major attack might well have succeeded but for air attacks launched against his troops by the Turkish air force. There was a danger of war between Turkey and Greece, but there was little that Greece could do militarily. A cease-fire was accepted. The Turkish response had been effective and to some extent mitigated the chagrin earlier induced by the blunt letter from President Lyndon Johnson of US to Ismet Inonu, the Turkish Prime Minister at the time, warning Turkey of the consequences. If Turkey invaded Cyprus, as intended in May 1964. This had been in response to a build-up of Greek strength on the island and the continuing ill treatment of the Turkish-Cypriots, which now included economically devastating blockades of their areas.

After 1964 Cyprus continued in a disrupted state but the Akritas plan had failed. Two outside attempts at a solution also failed. The first, the Acheson Plan, after the former American Secretary of State, Dean Acheason, provided for self-administration by the Turkish-Cypriots and for a Turkish base on the island. To the Greek side this looked like a partition, and Turkey would not only accept a permanent base, not a leased one. A Plan proposed by the UN mediator Galo Plaza, was rejected by the Turkish side since it rejected federation.


Communities Separate
Between 1963-1974 Turkish-Cypriots were forced to live in small ghettos in Cyprus shown in red on the map

Between 1963-1974 Turkish-Cypriots were forced to live in small ghettos in Cyprus shown in red on the map   

Between 1964 and 1967 the situation on the ground improved somewhat, mainly because the Turkish-Cypriots had largely withdrawn and consolidated within their own areas, including Nicosia where they were ruled by the Provisional Government they established in 1967 to replace an ad hoc general committee. 

The UN also helped to reduce blockades and, here and there, to heal relations. Then, in April 1967 the situation deteriorated when a military junta seized power in Greece and determined to do something effective about the Cyprus situation. Unable to achieve an agreement with Turkey the junta prompted more decisive action in Cyprus for enosis, but increasingly ran into opposition of Makarios, who was becoming disenchanted with the Greek connection, especially of liaison with the Greek junta. 

In November 1967 Grivas, seizing the initiative, led a planned attack on two Turkish-Cypriot villages in the south of the island (Kophinou and Ayios Theodhoros) fearing apparently, on the best construction, that the Turks might be seeking from these defended areas to control the Nicosia-Limassol road. The villages were overrun with many casualties. Turkey threatened air strikes. The Greek forces withdrew after serious casualties had been suffered by the Turkish-Cypriots. In Turkey, under pressure of public opinion, the Turkish government (under Süleyman Demirel) demanded that Greece should forthwith withdraw her troops from Cyprus. Greece refused. Serious preparations for war were made by Turkey. 

President Johnson sent Cyrus Vance to act as intermediary. Turkey refused a staged withdrawal, but accepted an `accelerated' withdrawal and the immediate return of Grivas to Greece. At home the Demirel government was accused of feebleness in not taking a firmer action, but it was a considerable Turkish victory, and finally disabused Makarios of any hopes of effective Greek military support.

  • From: C.H. Dodd, (1993), `Cyprus: A Historical Introduction', in C.H. Dodd (ed.), "The Political, Social, and Economic Development of Northern Cyprus", Eothen Press, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, England.

Chronological History