Thirty years after

Cyprus today marks the 30th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion. At 5.30 a.m. on July 20, 1974, the first Turkish paratroopers were being dropped in Nicosia. Ankara had found a pretext for its long-planned campaign aimed at encroaching on Cyprus’s national sovereignty: It was the overthrow of constitutional order with the coup against Makarios perpetrated by a group of wrongheaded officers and by Brig. Gen. Dimitrios Ioannidis, the surprisingly naive, and since silent, leader of the hardline faction of the Greek junta. The dictatorship’s temptation to extend its domination into Cyprus was enough to place the Greek world at the mercy of the Turkish operation, Attila. Greek political folly alone would not have been enough to mobilize Ankara’s troops. That also presupposed a longstanding political situation: the crisis in which the Greek world, both in Greece and Cyprus, was mired and the widening chasm between the so-called «national center» and Nicosia, already in existence from 1964. And it is time some were held accountable for that chasm. Two negative lessons to be drawn from the 1974 disaster are that the invasion was a result of political folly and of a crisis in the Greek world. Ankara did not hesitate to exploit Greece’s double handicap as it had long prepared to realize its goal: the partition of the island through a military campaign. The Turkish administration had openly declared its objective since 1964 while the signs were there beforehand. Turkey had constantly and consistently pursued its goal over the previous years, regardless of any occasional improvement in Greek-Turkish relations. Turkish consistency and persistence over the desired aim is the third lesson to be drawn from this sad anniversary.