30. British Cyprus (1914-1960)

 

Pre-Crisis Phase (November 5, 1914-October 16, 1931):  The British government formally annexed the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, which had been a British protectorate since 1878, on November 5, 1914.  The leaders of the Turkish Cypriot community on the island of Cyprus declared their loyalty to Britain during the First World War.  Sir John Eugene Clauson was appointed as British High Commissioner on January 8, 1915.  Archbishop Kyrillos II died on July 19, 1916, and Bishop Kyrillos was elected Archbishop of Cyprus as Kyrillos III on November 11, 1916.  British High Commissioner Sir John Eugene Clauson died on December 31, 1915, and Sir Malcolm Stevenson was appointed as Acting High Commissioner.  Greek Cypriots convened an assembly on October 10, 1921, demanding the union of Cyprus with Greece Greece (Enosis).  Cyprus was proclaimed a British crown colony on March 10, 1925.  Sir Malcolm Stevenson was appointed British Governor on the island of Cyprus on March 10, 1925.  Sir Ronald Storrs was appointed as British Governor on the island of Cyprus on November 30, 1926.  Elections for the Legislative Council were held in October 1925.  On November 28, 1929, British Colonial Secretary Lord Passfield rejected demands that Cyprus be unified with Greece. Elections for the Legislative Council were held in 1930.  As a result of grievances with the British colonial government, several Turkish Cypriots convened a national congress (Milli Kongre) in the town of Söz on May 1, 1931.  In response to the national congress, the British colonial government stated that “it ha[d] come to the attention of the government that some people belonging to the Islamic community ha[d] gathered in the form of an assembly, which they call the National Congress, and that they elected a person among themselves as mufti” and that the election of a mufti was against “the law, the traditions and the precedents, and thus it [would] on no condition be recognized by the government.”

Crisis Phase (October 17, 1931-March 31, 1955):  Beginning on October 17, 1931, the Greek Cypriot members of the Legislative Council, including Bishop Nicodemus Mylonas, resigned in protest of the enactment of a tariff law (import duties) by the British colonial government.  The National Radical Union of Cyprus (Ethnike Rizospastike Enosis Kypriakī́ – EREK) was established on October 18, 1931.  Bishop Nicodemus Mylonas called for “disobedience and insubordination to the illegal laws of this immoral, vile, and shameful regime” during a speech in Lemesos (Limassol) on October 20, 1931.  Greek Cypriots rioted against the British colonial government throughout the island of Cyprus beginning on October 21, 1931.  Governor Storrs declared martial law on October 21, 1931.  The rebellion was suppressed by British security forces on October 27, 1931, resulting in the deaths of six Greek Cypriots.  The British colonial government abolished the Legislative Council and banned political parties.  Several Greek Cypriot leaders, including George Hajipavlou, Dionysios Kykkotis, Theofanis Tsangarides, Theofanis Theodotou, and Theodoris Kolokassidis, were deported to Britain and Gibraltar on November 3-6, 1931.  Sir Reginald Edwards Stubbs was appointed British Governor on the island of Cyprus on October 20, 1932.  Sir Herbert Richmond Palmer was appointed British Governor on the island of Cyprus on November 8, 1933.  Archbishop Kyrillos III died on November 16, 1933.  The Progressive Party of Working People (Anorthotikó Kómma Ergazómenou Laoú – AKEL) was established in 1941.  The Cyprus Turkish Minority Association (Kıbrıs Adası Türk Azınlık Kurumu – KATAK) was established by Fazıl Küçük and other individuals in 1943.  Municipal elections were held on March 21, 1943, and AKEL candidates were elected mayors of  Limassol and Famagusta.  The Cyprus Turkish National Party was established in 1945.  Baron Reginald Fletcher was appointed British Governor on the island of Cyprus on October 24, 1946.  Bishop Leontios was elected Archbishop of Cyprus on June 20, 1947, but he died on July 26, 1947.  Bishop Makarios was elected Archbishop of Cyprus as Makarios II on December 24, 1947.  Sir Andrew Barkworth Wright was appointed British Governor on the island of Cyprus on Augsut 4, 1949.  Some 96 percent of Greek Cypriots voted in favor of union with Greece in a plebiscite held on January 15-22, 1950.  Archbishop Makarios II died on June 28, 1950, and Bishop Makarios was elected Archbishop of Cyprus as Makarios III on September 18, 1950.  Sir Robert Perceval Armitage was appointed British Governor on the island of Cyprus in 1954.  On August 2 1954, the British colonial government imposed restrictions on demonstrations and protests on the island of Cyprus.  The Greek government referred the Cyprus question to the Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) on August 16, 1954.  The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on December 17, 1954, which stated that the UNGA “is not at present deemed advisable to make a decision on the question of Cyprus.”   Greek Cypriots staged a general strike and clashed with British troops on December 18, 1954, resulting in injuries to 37 individuals.  Greek Colonel Georgios Grivas arrived in Cyprus as head of the Greek Cypriot insurgency against the British colonial government on November 10, 1954.  The National Organization of Cypriot Fighters (Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston – EOKA) commanded by Greek Colonel Georgios Grivas was formally established on January 13, 1955.  The British colonial policemen confiscated 27 boxes of EOKA weapons near the village of Chloraka on January 25, 1954.

Conflict Phase (April 1, 1955-March 13, 1959): The EOKA rebelled against the British colonial government on April 1, 1955.  EOKA insurgents attacked police stations in Nicosia and Kyrenia on June 19, 1955.  One individual was killed and fourteen individuals were injured in an explosion near the Central Police Station in Nicosia on June 21, 1955.  EOKA insurgents attacked the police station in Amiandos on June 22, 1955, resulting in the deaths of one government policeman.  British, Turkish, and Greek representatives met to discuss the Cyprus problem in London from August 29 to September 7, 1955.  Sir John Alan Francis Harding was appointed as British Governor on the island of Cyprus on September 25, 1955.  Governor Harding proclaimed a state-of-emergency on the island of Cyprus on November 26, 1955.  The British government deployed some 25,000 troops throughout the island of Cyprus to maintain law and order.  EOKA insurgents ambushed a British military vehicle in the Troodos mountains on December 15, 1955, resulting in the death of two individuals and the capture of two EOKA insurgents.  EOKA insurgents killed a Turkish Cypriot policeman on January 11, 1956.  Archbishop Markarios III was exiled to the Seychelles on March 9, 1956.  EOKA insurgents killed a Turkish Cypriot policeman on April 23, 1956, and one EOKA insurgent was captured.  EOKA insurgents killed a Turkish Cypriot policeman on May 25, 1956.  British military forces launched a military offensive (Operation Lucky Alphonse) in the Troodos mountains on June 7-23, 1956, resulting in the deaths of 25 British military personnel and the capture of 17 EOKA insurgents.  Three EOKA insurgents who were earlier captured by British security forces were hanged at Nicosia Central Prison on August 9, 1956.  The EOKA declared a unilateral ceasefire on March 31, 1957.  North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary-General Lord Ismay offered to mediate in the dispute in March 1957, but the Greek Cypriots rejected the mediation offer.  Sir John Harding resigned as Governor of Cyprus on October 22, 1957, and he was replaced by Sir Hugh Mackintosh Foot on December 3, 1957.  Turkish Cypriots demonstrated against the British colonial government in Nicosia on January 27-29, 1958.  Seven Turkish Cypriots were killed in clashes with British soldiers in Nicosia on January 27, 1958.  EOKA ended its unilateral ceasefire on March 3, 1958.  EOKA insurgents killed two British soldiers on May 4, 1958.  More than 100 individuals, including 56 Greek Cypriots and 53 Turkish Cypriots, were killed in inter-communal violence in Cyprus between June 7 and August 1958.  EOKA insurgents clashes with British troops near the village of Lysi on August 23, 1958, resulting in the deaths of five British soldiers and three EOKA insurgents.  British troops killed one EOKA commander in the village of Vavla on August 27, 1958.  EOKA insurgents clashed in the village of Liopetri on September 2, 1958, resulting in the deaths of four EOKA insurgents.  EOKA insurgents ambushed and killed three British soldiers near Kyperounda on October 22, 1958.  British troops killed one EOKA insurgent near the village of Agros on November 25, 1958.  EOKA ended military hostilities against the British colonel government on March 13, 1959.  Some 600 individuals were killed during the conflict, including 126 British soldiers and 26 British civilians.

Post-Conflict Phase (March 14, 1959-August 16, 1960): The United Nations (UN) General Assembly appealed for a peaceful resolution of the dispute on December 5, 1958. British, Greek, and Turkish representatives held negotiations in Paris on December 18, 1958 and January 18-20, 1959, and held negotiations in London on February 11-19, 1959. British, Greek, and Turkish representatives signed an agreement in London on February 19, 1959, which provided for the independence of Cyprus.  The Cyprus Democratic Union (CDU) was established by John Clerides in Nicosia on November 15, 1959. Governor Hugh Foot lifted the state-of-emergency on December 4, 1959. Archbishop Markarios was elected President and Fazıl Küçük was elected Vice-President of the Republic of Cyprus on December 13, 1959. Cyprus formally achieved its independence from Britain on August 16, 1960.

[Sources: Allock et al., 1992, 48-63; Bercovitch and Jackson, 1997, 80-81; Butterworth, 1976, 181-182; Clodfelter, 1992, 979; Donelan and Grieve, 1973, 116-122; Jessup, 1998, 143-144; Keesing’s Record of World Events, February 14-21, 1959, December 12-19, 1959; Langer, 1972, 1295-1297; Tillema, 1991, 48-49; Wainhouse, 1966, 436-460; Weisburd, 1997, 76-77.]

 

Bibliography

Erginel, Erdem. “Traditionalists vs. Reformists: The Struggle for Leadership Within the Turkish Community of Cyprus Between the World Wars,” Third International Congress on Cyprus Studies, November 13-17, 2000.