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Exploring what really happened in 1974 29 mai 2006

Posted by Acturca in Books / Livres, History / Histoire, South East Europe / Europe du Sud-Est, Turkey / Turquie.
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Cyprus Mail

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The first book by Cypriot journalist and researcher Makarios Drousiotis to be translated into English has just been published. Drousiotis is the author of a number of books on the Cyprus problem and its historical roots, and his latest publication is an English translation of his two-volume work, EOKA B and the CIA and 1974, both of which were published in Nicosia in 2002. The books cover extensively the events of the period surrounding the 1974 coup and Turkey’s invasion of the island.

The English version includes both books in a single volume, under the title Cyprus 1974, The Greek Coup and the Turkish Invasion. It is published by the German publishing firm of Bibliopolis, which has used its experience to produce an impressive publication, with almost 300 pages of text, 63 photographs and a hard cover finish.

Droushiotis shows how the roots of the Cyprus problem can be traced to the new balance of power established in the Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean after the end of the Second World War. This is the reason why the author, in his extensive introduction, covers the years between 1947 and 1970 and analyses the founding and the goals of the Greek and Turkish ‘parastates’, their respective relations with the US intelligence services and their activities in Cyprus.

He continues with a detailed exposition of the shadowy activities that were behind the establishment of the illegal EOKA B organisation by George Grivas, the leader of the EOKA organisation that in the 1950s had led the armed struggle for independence. The author reveals the links connecting EOKA B with the leadership of the military junta ruling Greece at the time and describes its operations in Cyprus. The book also offers an outline of the policies followed by President Makarios in an attempt to resolve the Cyprus problem, his relations with Athens and explains all the backstage activities that led to the coup of July 15, 1974.

The book gives a day-by-day account of all the events that took place, from the moment that the coup erupted until the completion of both phases of the Turkish invasion. It analyses all the backstage diplomatic initiatives unfolding in Washington, Nicosia, Athens and Ankara, as these have been recorded in the State Department’s confidential diplomatic correspondence, as well as in the top secret reports of the US National Security Council.

The author has consulted extensively numerous sources of information, from both Cyprus and abroad. The most important primary sources used were from the National Archives of the United States and unpublished material from the Central Information Agency of the Republic of Cyprus, including audiotapes and memos of telephone intercepts.

Invasion, what invasion ?

In this extract from his book, Cyprus 1974 – The Greek coup and the Turkish invasion, Makarios Droushiotis shows how the coup leaders were caught totally unprepared by the Turkish invasion of July 20, 1974

The Turkish invasion caught Nicos Sampson’s government completely by surprise, totally unprepared and incapable of reacting. Cyprus awoke to the terrifying sound of Turkish warplanes, but did not know what was happening. An hour and a half after the bombing had begun, CyBC was still broadcasting normal programmes, specifically, morning gymnastic exercises, while Turkish Cypriot Bayrak radio had been playing martial music from 2am. At 6.30am, CyBC broke off its programme and began broadcasting martial music, and later on it began calling all citizens able to bear arms to hurry and join National Guard units.

At the National Guard General Staff, the coupist leadership of the National Guard was watching helplessly from Michalis Georgitsis’ office window as Turkish paratroops dropped into the Turkish enclave. General Staff Officer Panayiotis Yiannakodimos was in continuous contact with Armed Forces Headquarters in Athens through a hot line set up for the needs of the coup, and was asking for instructions so as to issue an order to resist. Since the order was being delayed, he placed the telephone receiver outside the window so that they could hear in Athens the explosions from the Turkish air bombardment, to persuade them that it was an invasion and not exercises. Vice Admiral Nicolopoulos, naval intelligence officer at the Armed Forces Headquarters, through who all messages concerning the activities of the Turkish fleet were routed, testifies that “at about 6 o’clock, as intelligence officer in charge, I urgently addressed Gen. Gr. Bonanos and asked him to order the dispatch of our fleet’s ships. He gave me the following tragic answer: ‘The Turks are attacking Cyprus, and we are Greece.’”

The Greek military leadership’s indifference infuriated the Chief of the National Guard’s General Staff, who “slammed down the receiver in a rage, and, addressing the officers present, said: ‘Those guys up there haven’t got a clue, give the order to defend ourselves with all means available’.” The National Guard finally issued an order to repel the invasion over two hours after it had begun, and without the approval of the Armed Forces Headquarters in Greece. The order from the Armed Forces Headquarters was finally conveyed verbally to the National Guard General Staff one hour later, at 8.15am.

In the meantime, the first troop movements by the National Guard ended in total failure. The 281st Infantry Regiment, which had been moved to Nicosia for use in the coup from the western tip of Pentadactylos where it was based was in Athalassa on the morning of July 20. The regiment was ordered to return to its base in Panagra in full daylight. En route, it was spotted by the Turkish air force outside the village of Kontemenos and was decimated. Remnants of the regiment reached their destination in disarray on the afternoon of July 20.

The same fate befell the 286th Mechanised Infantry Regiment, which left the GSP stadium in Nicosia where it was stationed to make its way to the Kyrenia landing points following Nicosia-Kontemenos-Panagra-Karavas road. The column consisted of 24 BTR personnel carriers, out of the 34 possessed by the regiment. In Kontemenos a lorry of the 281st Infantry Regiment, which had been destroyed three hours earlier by Turkish warplanes, blocked the village road. The first platoon of the regiment, which was an advance column, was bottled up in the village. The column’s vehicles, all grouped together, were spotted by a couple of Turkish fighters. They destroyed six BTRs and two or three other wheeled vehicles. The regiment’s commander, Lieutenant Colonel Georgios Boutos, was seriously injured in the air raid and later died in hospital. Suffering heavy losses, the regiment arrived at Karavas at 4pm on July 20.

The Turks had landed in territory overseen by the 190th Anti-tank Artillery Brigade, based in Acheiropiyitou Monastery on the northern coast of Cyprus. This brigade was responsible for the shore batteries along the length of the coast, from Pachiammos to Karavostasi. According to one soldier, who asked why no guns were placed in the batteries, an officer replied: “We won’t be shooting because they (the Turks) won’t either.” Despite the fact that the regiment was mobilised and that 49 people joined it, neither guns nor uniforms were issued. The commander of the Brigade, Dokos, apparently stated, “all these are Makarios supporters. They’ll turn the guns on us.”

Finally, when the trumpeter sounded the alarm at 4.15am, the troops hurried to move the guns to the batteries. The Brigade’s mission was to establish one battery near the shore, in the Panagra area west of Kyrenia, one in the area where the landing took place at Pente Mili, and one at the beginning of the Karpass Peninsula. Of the 18 artillery pieces in the Brigade’s possession, only 12 left the camp at 5.15am, towed by vehicles of 1940 vintage. The remaining six were transferred later, because there were no trailers. The commander and some soldiers remained in the camp. When airplanes appeared over the camp, Dokos ordered: “Don’t fire unless they fire first.” At that moment a plane dived and machine-gunned an army camp in the Pentadactylos. “Don’t worry. They are blanks (…) they are firing to frighten us,” he told his men. There were warehouses in the camp with large reserves of ammunition and weapons, which were destroyed when they were continuously strafed by the air force from 5am until 10.30am.

With Turkey unleashing its assault on Cyprus, the National Guard was falling to pieces. As later emerged, the National Guard General Staff had no serious plan for facing a Turkish invasion. Georgios Grivas drew up the first Cyprus Defence Plan (codenamed ‘Aphrodite One’) in 1964, when he was commander of the Supreme Military Defence Command, Cyprus. Grivas did not have a reputation as a capable staff officer, and on the two occasions when he planned and executed larger scale military operations in Cyprus, he was a resounding failure. The first was the attack on the Kokkina-Mansoura enclave in 1964, and the second was that against the Turkish Cypriot enclave in Kofinou-Ayios Theodoros in 1967. Apart from its possible operational weaknesses, the ‘Aphrodite One’ plan depended on the presence of a full Greek division of 10,000 men and heavy weapons. At the beginning of 1968, when the division left, the National Guard General Staff made readjustments to the plan, covering the gap created with regiments of reserves. Thus, the defence of Cyprus was based to a great extent on the successful mobilisation of reserves. In the specific instance, as Georgitsis himself admitted, “mobilisation was a total failure”, because it did not occur before the Turkish invasion.

It does not take a military expert to realise the defence plan was totally ineffective due to its failure to take into account Turkey’s overwhelming military superiority. When it was drawn up in 1964 – but even when it was revised in 1968 – Turkey hardly had any landing craft. The building up of landing craft began after Turkey’s failure to invade in 1967 during the Kofinou operations. Within five years, Turkey had built over 100 landing craft. This development was completely ignored by the commanders of the National Guard. The National Guard General Staff hatched dozens of plans for the assassination or overthrow of Makarios through a coup, and used the greatest part of National Guard forces to destabilise Cyprus internally, while scarcely concerning itself at all with external dangers…

Cyprus 1974 – The Greek coup and the Turkish invasion

By Makarios Drousiotis (Bibliopolis pp 280, Hardback, £23)
Info: Hellenic Distribution Agency: Tel: 22-878500


1. Cyprus_Sun - 24 janvier 2010

This is very interesting reading. Thanks

2. Brian Entwistle - 30 novembre 2009

The 1974 coup was a few weeks before the Turkish invasion. Certainly NOT 15 July. I was told by a Greek Cypriot that « big trouble was coming soon » a few weeks before the coup. The « British Authorities » were aware of this, and were aware of the invasion before it happened. The distance of Greek airfields from Cyprus meant that their aircraft could only just fly to Cyprus and return, not having sufficient fuel to carry out any effective action – hence they never came. On one occasion, one British aircraft went to warn off an approaching squadron of Turkish aircraft, which turned away. I am therefore convinced that if Britain had exercised its duty in upholding the tripartite « London Agreement » the invasion would have been prevented.

Does anyone know the number of casualties from the coup and invasion?

3. Murat Günay - 31 août 2008

« Democratic Greece » still is not able to tolerate even a single mosque in Athens.

It is sad that EEC has such hypocritic policies towards non-Christians.

4. Jeff Howard - 8 septembre 2007

Intresting, however Umit Oner has a very stern write ip on the Greeks in general.

QUESTION: How many Greeks now live in Turkey and how many Turks live in Greece now ?
BINGO: Only 1,458 Greeks live in present Turkey
131,251 Turks live in present Greece

FACTS: Greece has freedon of movement, freedom of worship and dows not take by law, peoples land now prohibits Mosques from being repaired. Hence the large Turkish Population in Greece and the pressure to remove all Greekness in Turkey.

One can see this so called Ethnic Cleansing in Turkey, sad though that Turkey wishes to join the EEC.


Jeff Howard

5. chris - 16 juillet 2007

You forget the massacre and genocide of Armenians and Greeks in Turkey. Cyprus does not need the americans,turks or Greek armies on our island.Cyprus is for the Cypriot Greek or Turk.

6. umit oner - 22 octobre 2006

I’m proud of that honorable turkish army has stopped that greek holocaust on turks and innocent people. I’m very sad some nations like nazis and greeks take part in the human history. I’m afraid greeks never will forget their wildish and racist nature. They proved what they r in 1922, 1974 and i wonder what will follow those. They dont have the culture of living with other people together in PEACE. Notice everytime peace is broken by the greeks and established again by the turkish side.

7. Alan Clegg - 22 juillet 2006

I was in Karavas on July 20, 1974 (and for a few days following). I find this writeup to be quite interesting. I will do my best to obtain a copy.

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