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Secret plan to deport troublesome Cypriot 18 avril 2012

Posted by Acturca in History / Histoire.
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The Times (UK) 18 April 2012, p. 13

Jack Malvern

Britain drew up a secret plan to deport a troublesome archbishop from Cyprus months before peace talks broke down, according to files released at the National Archives today.

Archbishop Makarios, a Greek Cypriot figurehead who was a thorn in the side of the British authorities in the 1950s, was forced to travel to the Seychelles, another British colony, in March 1956 after the collapse of talks in December. But a letter, marked « secret », shows how the Colonial Office conspired with the Governor of the Seychelles in September 1955 to plan the archbishop’s deportation, suggesting that the British never intended the peace talks to succeed.

Sir John Martin, Assistant Under-Secretary of State, wrote to Sir William Addis to remind him of a discussion about a « certain distinguished visitor » from Cyprus being held against his will. Among the secret telegrams is a message written by Sir William in verse. The Governor had previously advised that the Government Lodge, named Sans Souci (« No worries »), might be too small, and that the Cypriots could be housed in another residence named La Bastille. The Colonial Office evidently objected on the ground that it would be unwise to use a house that shared the name of a French prison, prompting Sir William to draft a calypso. « Well in Sans Souci so let it be/ Thus denying opposition opportunity/ Of stating Archbishop ne peut pas rester tranquille/ In a house with the name La Bastille. »

The file also shows that the authorities in the Seychelles intercepted a packet of poison sent by an unknown hand to the archbishop. A memo dated November 20, 1956, describes how a « paper packet labelled ‘poison’ in both English and Greek languages was discovered wrapped up » in a newspaper addressed to the archbishop. The packet contained 2oz of « white crystals » that turned out to be strychnine.

The archbishop went on to become President of Cyprus in 1960. He was ousted in 1974 by a military coup and died in 1977.

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