The coup d' etat in Cyprus:
The Ioannides Plan and its Consequences
Thirty two years after the Junta's coup d' etat in Cyprus, which paved the way for the Turkish invasion and partition, the approach to the causes of the Cyprus tragedy remains bound to the stereotypes: "The insane Athens Junta deposed President Makarios and opened the gates for the gates to the Turkish 'Attila'".
But the coup d' etat of 15th July was not a momentary lapse of reason by a group of juntist officers, but the result of the choices of the Greek Cypriot leadership themselves. And that concerns not only EOKA B, but also the so-called democratic forces of the Right, which were loyal to Makarios.
Which was the real aim of the coup d' etat? How did things come to that point? Why did Ioannides consider that he was "morally entitled" to intervene in Cyprus? Let us take the facts in order.
In 1960 Cyprus was declared an independent state. With the Zurich agreements, the struggle for Enosis was defeated. How and why that happened is a different chapter. What counts are the consequences of the defeat: the Turkish Cypriots obtained the status of equal partners in sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus.
Makarios and his collaborators never accepted that the fight for Enosis failed conclusively, and they attempted to continue, beginning with the revision of the Zurich agreements. The position of the Greek government of that era, under Constantinos Karamanlis, was the Greek Cypriots were justified in seeking a re-balancing of the inequalities in the agreements, but that the steps to be taken were to be political, to be undertaken at a measured pace and that the co-operation of the Turkish Cypriots themselves was to be sought.
With the Junta since 1960
What has today been recognised by the Greek Cypriots, namely, that the Turkish Cypriots are to be equal paretners in the new state, if and when the Cyprus Issue is to be resolved, was considered high treason in 1960. The Greek Cypriot leadership then sought the complete dissolution of the agreements so that they could put Enosis back on the agenda. And because the Greek government was not willing to go down that path, they allied themselves with IDEA, the Ieros Desmos Ellinon Axiomatikon (Sacred Bond of Greek Officers), an underground organisation set up by the CIA within the Greek Army as part of the anti-communist Stay Behind network, in analogy to the similar mechanisms set up in Turkey and which eventually evolved into what is known today as the Turkish Deep State. The hard core of IDEA eventually formed the core of the Junta. The Greek Cypriots gave the eventual juntists a leading role, seven years before they seized power in Greece on April 21st, 1967.
Immediately after the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus, the eventual dictator Georgios Papadopoulos visited Cyprus and created an information gathering network, in co-operation with the then Minister of the Interior, Polycarpos Georkadjis. With the contribution of the Greek Central Intelligence Agency KYP, where Papadopoulos was serving at the time, the structures of the Cypriot parastate were erected, and used to oppress the Left and the anti-Makarios Right. At the same time, preparations were being made for the violent dissolution of the Zurich agreements.
Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot leadership were anything but innocent in these matters. The Turkish Deep State created its own structures in Cyprus, armed and trained the underground organisation TMT and waited for the Greek Cypriots - who made no secret of their intentions - to give them the opportunity to react. The Turks laid better plans, were more cautious and based their strategy on the mistakes and impatience of the Greeks.
On April 11th 1961 Georkadjis, having consulted with Makarios, visited Athens and asked Minister of Foreign Affairs Evangelos Averoff to send weapons to Cyprus as a response to the arming of the Turkish Cypriots by Turkey. After consultation with Karamanlis, Averoff angrily rejected Georkadjis' request. As related by the close associate of Georkadjis, current President Tassos Papadopoulos, Averoff gave Georkadjis two minutes to leave his office, otherwise he would call his guards and have him ejected.
Georkadjis left Averoff's office and went directly to the eventual dictator Georgios Papadopoulos to request his co-operation. According to Georkadjis' collaborator, Nicos Ioannou-Psomas, when Papadopoulos returned to Athens he sent them the following message: "All right, gentlemen, I am sending you the first one thousand weapons with ELDYK (the Greek Army force of a thousand men present by treaty in the Republic of Cyprus), and don't tell either Averoff or Karamanlis". The plan was for ELDYK simply not to take their weapons back when relieved at the end of their tour of duty, the relief bringing new weapons. Besides Georkadjis, Papadopoulos contacted both Nicos Sampson and Vassos Lyssarides. All three Greek Cypriot political men were found, in 1963, heading three separate armed paramilitary groups.
"He is a criminal"
In 1963, IDEA organised the armed clashes with the Turkish Cypriots in Cyprus. The military staff plans of the operations against the Turkish Cypriots were prepared by Demetrios Ioannides, who eventually replaced Georgios Papadopoulos as dictator in Greece and who ordered the coup against Makarios eleven years later. At the time he was serving with ELDYK, Makarios himself, in an interview given to Oriana Fallaci in 1974, shortly after the tragedy of Cyprus, related the following
experience: one morning, Ioannides visited him in the Archbishopric, accompanied by Nicos Sampson, to submit to him a plan which would settle the Cyprus issue once and for all. "He bowed before me, kissed my hand with great respect and said: 'Your Beatitude, here is the plan. We will suddenly attack the Turkish Cypriots all over the island. We will get them out of the way once and for all, and we will be rid of the issue'. I was flabbergasted. I told him that I could not agree with him, because I could not contemplate the idea of the killing of so many innocent people. He kissed my hand once more and left in a rage. I tell you, he is a criminal".
How did such a criminal secure an audience with Makarios? The Greek Cypriot leadership was not only informed of the plans of the eventual dictators, most of whom had served in Cyprus, but had been an active party to the procedure. The staff offices of the organisation trained by Ioannides were housed in one of the government houses in the grounds of the Presidential Palace. Its leaders comprised Makarios' three closest associates: Polycarpos Georkadjis, Tassos Papadopoulos and Glafkos Clerides. Indeed, some staff meetings with Greek officers took place in the Presidential estate on Troodos.
As evidenced by a multitude of telegrams, the Turks were well informed of the Greek Cypriots' activities, and provoked them to pursue that strategy. The Turks would welcome a clash, and especially operations against the Turkish Cypriot civilians, so that they could activate their intervention plans. The Greek Cypriots, underestimating the dangers and overestimating their powers, were playing with fire, together with IDEA.
Two times before 1974, Turkey attempted to invade Cyprus. Both times the then (and current) Greek Cypriot leadership was eager to react with the Ioannides recipe:
- In August 1964, Turkey threatened to invade, in response to the military operations in the Mansoura-Kokkina area. On August 6th, Tassos Papadopoulos, on behalf of the Government of Cyprus, informed the Americans that "if the Turkish fleet enters the new 12-mile limits (of the territorial waters) we shall consider that the beginning of invasion. We calculate that this will give us 75 minutes to clear out the Turkish Cypriots, so that we can then defend ourselves, and we have the plans and the means to carry them out".
- In November 1967, Turkey threatened to invade once more, in response to the military operations of the National Guard (whose Chief of Staff at the time was Gregorios Bonanos, later Commander in Chief of the Greek Armed Forces under the Ioannides Junta during 1974) in the Kofinou - Ayos Theodoros area. On November 15th 1967, a broad political and military conference was held in the Presidential Palace. Tassos Papadopoulos, accodring to Bonanos, "suggested that in case of air raids or landing operations by the Turks, the Turkish Cypriots were to be neutralised all over the island".
In neither instance did the Turks realise their plans, chiefly because of intervention by the Americans, who were concerned with the consequences of a possible Greco-Turkish war. In 1974, it seems that they secured the non-involvement of Greece in a war with Turkey and allowed the Turkish attack on Cyprus. But the invasion of 1974 could have happened in 1974 or 1967.
The deeper causes
So why did Ioannides depose Makarios in 1974, since he had so much respect for him in 1964? In 1968 Makarios denounced the policy of Enosis and came round to supporting Independence. That enraged the Ioannides faction of the Junta. Ioannides considered Makarios' turn away from Enosis treason, and Makarios a renegade. Research reveals that Ioannides and Aslanides were behind the two attempts of assassination against Makarios: Once in co-operation with Georkadjis in 1970, and once with a faction of EOKA B, in November 1973.
Ioannides was the brains behind the two underground organisations (Ethniko Metopo, or National Front, and EOKA B) which acted in Cyprus in the period 1969-1974. Furthermore, the clash between Ioannides and Papadopoulos, which led to the coup of November 15th 1973, is attributed to Papadopoulos becoming reconciled with Makarios, and also coming to a rift with Georgios Grivas-Dighenis, during 1973.
Ioannides remained faithful to what he had planned since 1963. Among the military staff plans of the coup of 1974 was Operation "Efestos" ("Vulcan") for mopping-up activities against the Turkish Cypriots. The plan was revealed during the proceedings of the Examining Committee of the Greek Parliament on the Cyprus File (1986-1988). This is the reason that the Greek Parliament decided unanimously that there was not to be a parliamentary debate on the Cyprus File. The thousands of pages of documents and depositions by the protagonists were classified top secret and locked in the office of the Chairman of the Greek Parliament, so as not to reinforce the pretext brought forth by Turkey for the invasion and occupation of Cyprus.