The influence of Greek and Turkish Cypriots on the Cyprus problem

Term Paper, 2018

15 Pages, Grade: 8


Table of contents


The Colonization of Cyprus

The Liberation Struggle of EOKA (1955-1959)

The Establishment of the Republic of Cyprus

Local Clashes

The Identities Conflict

Endogenous Causes and Exogenous Factors




There is a dominant opinion that the Cyprus Problem is a result of an identity conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. This paper, aims on valuing the role of that conflict within a post-colonial context, consisting of a literature review. More specifically, the political life and the clashes took place during the EOKA1 liberation struggle will be examined.

The data presented in this paper prove that the Cyprus Problem is a result of the conflicts between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Nationalism that captured both the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities was the main factor in provoking ethnic violence on the island. Britain's colonial power has also contributed to maintaining the division between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, to serve its own sovereign interests, a division that exists up to date. The rejection of the different identities of the two communities led to political insecurity and discrimination.


This paper aims on examining the role of the conflicts between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, as well as the internal and external factors that affected the outcome of the problem. A Hadjipavlou (2007) survey suggests, a main cause of the Cyprus Problems are the external factors that affected the development of the two communities co-existence on the island. The identity issue was also a big deal among the two communities of the island of Cyprus and held a very important role to the expansion and continuation of the problem. Nor the Greek Cypriots were willing to accept that the Turkish Cypriot minority on the island had its own rights, traditions and culture, nor the Turkish Cypriots were willing to accept that Greek Cypriots-as the majority-had the facility to take decisive decisions about Cyprus.

The following pages will shred a light on the important role of the British Rule on the country from 1878 to 1960, as well as on the role of Turkey’s expansion visions and the nationalist cycles among the two communities, that succeeded on maintaining a tendency of demonizing the other community and finally separating them, both at a geographical and a socio- psychological level. An examination of such factors that affect conflicts such as the one of Cyprus, could provide enough knowledge in order to facilitate the understanding of the issue’s causes, and contribute on finding ways to mitigate and finally resolve the problem through the adoption of peace-building policies on the island.

The Colonization of Cyprus

At the end of the 19th century, Great Britain expressed an interest in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, mainly due to the pursuit of a maritime link with India, which was a colony of them (Klok, 2005: 121). According to Robert Young (2001: 51), colonialism is based on two key features; colonization and domination, where, as motivation, respectively, the acquisition of land for settlement or extraction of wealth.

Great Britain, therefore, because of its rivalry with Russia, invested more in the role of the Ottoman Empire in serving its colonial needs, but also in offsetting Russia's increasing influence in the Balkans. Thus, at the Berlin conference held to avert the Balkan crisis, England reached the “4th June Convention” with the Ottoman Empire, through which the administration of Cyprus was transferred to England. The transfer of the administration took place on July 12, 1878 amid a climate of enthusiasm among Cypriots, who hoped for more freedom, less corruption and a fairer tax system.

The transfer of the island’s rule, had in fact resulted in an increase in the freedom of the people, as evidenced by the bloom of the Press on the island, but freedom had not involved increased influence of the people in the colonial administration. Also, the colonization of Cyprus removes the Ottomans from their position of power, interrupting any link between Cyprus and the Turkish mainland, and eventually turning the remaining Muslims into the island into a small minority compared to the Greek Cypriots (Klok, 2005).

The Liberation Struggle of EOKA (1955-1959)

The global economic crisis of 1930, as also the defeat of the imperial forces Southeast Asia from Japan and the eruption of armed liberation struggles in many colonies for decolonization, enhanced the anti-colonial discontent and boosted the demand for national independence of the colonies (Young, 2001: 242-243). In addition, the end of the World War II found Great Britain wounded and weakened in the management of its colonies. The social, political and economic reclassifications around the world had contributed to the proliferation of anti-colonial sentiments, as happened in Cyprus through the massive demand for a solution to the national issue and the resurgence of the idea of uniting the island with Greece (Thrasyvoulou, 2016). This idea and vision is known as Enosis.

The public demand for the unification of Cyprus with Greece appeared on the very first day of the British colonial rule on the island. According to Klok (2005: 122), at the reception of Garnet Wolseley, the first British governor in Cyprus, Archbishop Sofronios expressed his hope that in the future Great Britain would concede Cyprus to Greece just as he did with the islands of the Ionian Sea in 1864. With the rise of Archbishop Makarios (1950), the struggle for Enosis got new impetus, as it was regarded by him as his personal duty, which made him the driving force behind the unification struggle. Makarios wanted to fulfill the goal of the unification initially through the internationalization of the issue and then through the formation of an internal organization, something on which he relied mainly on the right-wing forces that were more willing to use violence. An important role in the constitution of the armed liberation movement was held by Giorgos Grivas, who was a well-known far-right nationalist, a Greece King’s supporter and an anti-communist, who finally became the EOKA leader (Klok, 2006: 148-149).

On April 1, 1955, EOKA began its armed action, which included bombing of government buildings and facilities, and guerrilla warfare aimed at extinguishing the national problem. EOKA was not only against the English colonialists, although it was its most important goal, but also against the Left-wing (Panteli, 2000 in Klok, 2005: 152). AKEL2 immediately opposed the violence, believing that it would make the solution even more complicated, leading to a series of murders of progressive trade unionists and communists from EOKA. The controversy between the Right and the Left was not limited to the Greek Cypriot community, but it also appeared in the Turkish Cypriots.

Unlike progressive Turkish Cypriots who favored co-operation with Greek Cypriots, Turkish Cypriot nationalists founded the TMT3 secret organization, which led by Rauf Denktash, presenting the request for partition of the island and the concession of its northern part to Turkey (Klok, 2005: 152 -153). This vision is known as “Taksim”. According to Mavros (2015), TMT was instigated by the English colonialists to serve their own colonial interests.

The Establishment of the Republic of Cyprus

In September 1958 Makarios announced his acceptance of independence over the Enosis vision. While Turkey was initially negative in this possibility and supported the division, it was gradually established that an independence in the form of an administrative division between the two communities would allow it to exert influence over the island through the Turkish Cypriots.

After a series of negotiations, the Cyprus issue was led to the Zurich Summit, and then to the London conference, where England, Turkey and Greece agreed on the future of Cyprus. The agreements that included the constitution of Cyprus were known as the "Zurich-London Treaty". Through these conditions, an unstable peace and independence was achieved on the island under the guardianship of England, Turkey and Greece (Klok, 2005: 159-160).

Klok (2005: 161) describes the constitution as "odd" as it gave the minority of Turkish Cypriots an irrational control over the administration of the island, which was mostly satisfying for the Turkish Cypriots for the outcome of the Zurich-London Treaty. Also, through the Guarantee Treaties provided for by the Constitution, Cypriot sovereignty was greatly restricted.

It is stated that the only way to succeed the new state was the cooperation between the two communities, but the ideals of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriot nationalists (Enosis and Taksim) were still alive, as during the transition period bi-communal violence had not subsided. At the same time, the difficulty with which the two communities worked together to implement the constitution encouraged mutual distrust even more, where the Turkish Cypriot leadership believed that Makarios still wanted the unification with Greece, and on the other side, the Greek Cypriots considered the partition of the island as a given objective for the Turkish Cypriots.

The problems that arose in the newly established Cypriot state were intensifying as a result the total rupture between the two communities in the early years of Independence. Heraclides (2002) noted that the main reasons for the failure to cooperate between Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots, were the incompatible and unbearable aspirations that had formed since the EOKA liberation struggle. The inability of the two sides to compromise and pursue a solution to the common good has always been obvious.

Local Clashes

The Anglo-Turkish alliance against the Cypriot fighters was the cause behind the sad events committed in Kionelli village on June 12, 1958. There, an organized massacre of civilians from Kontemenos village was held in the area of ​​Turkish Cypriots, who shot, killed and massacred eight unarmed Cypriots, out of a total of 35 people arrested by the English forces earlier and transported to Kionelli. The massacre at Kioneli was the premeditated exploitation of the Turkish minority of the island by the British, with the aim of defeating the anti-colonial struggle and turning the national issue into a bicommunal problem between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots (Mavros, 2015).


1 EOKA: Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston [Greek], Cypriot Fighters National Organization [English]

2 AKEL: Anorthotiko Komma Ergazomenou Laou [Greek], Progressive Party of Working People [English]

3 TMT: Türk Mukavemet Teşkilatı [Turkish], Turkish Resistance Organisation [English]

Excerpt out of 15 pages


The influence of Greek and Turkish Cypriots on the Cyprus problem
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
peace and conflict, post-conflict, cyprus problem, eoka
Quote paper
Kyriakos Konstanta (Author), 2018, The influence of Greek and Turkish Cypriots on the Cyprus problem, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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