On this day, at 8.15AM, 15th of July, 1974, a military junta headed by Dimitrios Ioannidis, the hardliner Greek nationalist brigadier, shot Archbishop Makaris III/
The 1974 coup d’état in Cyprus was a military coup d’état by the Greek Army in Cyprus, the Cypriot National Guard and the Greek military junta of 1967–1974. On 15 July 1974 the coup plotters ousted President Makarios III and replaced him with pro-Enosis (Greek irridentist) nationalist Nikos Sampson as replaced president, only for 2 days. The Sampson regime was described as a puppet state, whose ultimate aim was the annexation of the island by Greece; in the short term, the coupists proclaimed the establishment of the “Hellenic Republic of Cyprus”. The coup was viewed as illegal by the United Nations and violated human rights laws.
On 3 May 1974, Makarios sent the Greek government a letter that identified certain Greek military officers stationed in Cyprus as undermining the Cypriot government.
The coup was ordered by Dimitrios Ioannidis, the shadow leader of the Greek junta, and Greek officers led the Cypriot National Guard to capture the Presidential Palace in Nicosia. The building was almost entirely burned down. Makarios narrowly escaped death in the attack. He fled the presidential palace from its back door and went to Paphos, where the British managed to retrieve him in the afternoon of 16 July and flew him from Akrotiri to Malta in a Royal Air Force Armstrong Whitworth Argosy transport and from there to London by a de Havilland Comet the next morning. On 19 July, he attended a United Nations Security Council meeting in New York and made a speech, in which he stated that Cyprus was invaded by Greece.
Another element working against Makarios was the fact that most officers of the Cypriot National Guard were Greek regulars who supported the junta
The newly established regime has been described as an extremist puppet regime of the Greek junta. On 15 July, between 8 am and 9 am, the coup leaders proclaimed their victory on the state channel Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, saying “The national guard intervened in order to solve the problematical situation. […]. Makarios is dead.” However, before his flight, Makarios announced that he was alive from a private broadcast in Paphos. The new government heavily censored the press and stopped left-wing newspapers being printed. Only right-wing newspapers Machi, Ethniki and Agon continued publishing, and their style was very propagandistic. Sampson did not openly announce his intention of enosis in the days following the coup, but instead focused on suppressing any support for Makarios and heavy propaganda to vilify his government.
In response, Rauf Denktaş, the leader of the Turkish Cypriot Administration, stated that he believed that the events were among Greek Cypriots and called for Turkish Cypriots not to go out, as well as for UNFICYP to take extensive security measures for Turkish Cypriots. The Cypriot National Guard made no attempts to enter the Turkish Cypriot enclaves, but raided Greek and Turkish Cypriot homes alike in mixed villages to confiscate weapons. The Turkish government brought claims that ammunition was being carried to Cyprus by Olympic Air to the attention of UNFICYP. Whether the Turkish Cypriots suffered as a direct result of the coup remains controversial, but Sampson was seen as an untrustworthy figure due to his pro-enosis policies and “brutal” role against Turkish Cypriots in 1963.
Following the coup, the newly established junta started a crackdown on Makarios supporters, resulting in a number of deaths and a “significant number”, according to Frank Hoffmeister, being detained. The number of deaths from the coup remains a disputed issue, as the Republic of Cyprus lists the deaths due to the coup among the missing due to the Turkish invasion. According to Haralambos Athanasopulos, at least 500 Greek Cypriots have been placed on the list of 1617 Greek Cypriot missing people and their deaths blamed on the Turks and Turkish Cypriots. According to Milliyet on 19 July 1974, violent clashes had broken out in Paphos, and even excluding Paphos, the death toll due to Greek Cypriot infighting was about 300 civilians and 30 Greek soldiers, whose bodies were brought to Athens.
This was the start of a chain of reactions that have left Cyprus divided ever since. There is NO DOUBT that the actions of this group was to blame, even though there were many factors that had led to the breakdown of relations between Cypriots in the past, even resulting in bloodshed, it was this single act, that gave Turkey the reason (or excuse) to invade Cyprus.
Here we are, forty five years later and Cyprus is STILL divided, with every glimmer of hope, swiftly dashed by a pointless blame game…….NOBODY IS INNOCENT! It does not help that many of the instigators or supporters of EOKA B’ are either in government or at the very least, highly connected. How is Cyprus to move forward, if the actions of those to blame, from either side do not have the decency, the honour and the respect to admit what they did, accept the consequences of their actions and publicly condemn the politics that led to the division of Cyprus. We cannot re-write the past, but we cannot move forward unless we are all given the opportunity to hear the truth, to acknowledge it, accept it and confine it to the past. If the corridor that is the timeline of the last few decades, were to become a journey that all Cypriots could travel and close every door behind them, then maybe, just maybe, we could look to the future and move forward as a unified Cypriot nation.
This wass a day when the perpetrators of this tragedy led to a chain of events that would make the innocent people of Cyprus the true victims. The people who would ultimately be displaced, bereaved and divided.
Athienou mayor Kyriakos Kareklas appealed to US ambassador Judith Garber for help in having a crossing point opened in the Larnaca village during her visit there on Wednesday.
Garber was in the buffer-zone village to visit the archaeological team and students from Davidson College in North Carolina who have been excavating at the Mallouras-Athienou site every year since 1990.
After their brief meeting, which followed Garber’s visit to the archaeological site, Kareklas said: “We have called for the crossing to be opened to Nicosia.”
He said he gave the ambassador a letter explaining all the issues, and a map where it clearly shows that the distance between Athienou and Nicosia would be greatly reduced if a crossing was opened. Currently it takes 45 minutes by car to go to the capital but with a crossing point, it would only take 10 minutes.
“If this happens, Athienou will be revitalised,” said Kareklas. “Within 10 minutes residents will have access to the university, the hospital and other areas of the capital instead of the 45 minutes that is needed today with the dense traffic at the entrance to Nicosia.”
It is time to open borders throughout Cyprus!
He said Garber acknowledged the problem and promised she would do whatever was within her capabilities to help.
The mayor asked her to discuss it with the ambassadors of the four other countries, Russia, France, the UK and China, that make up the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Kareklas also asked Garber to raise the issue with the UN Special Representative in Cyprus, Elizabeth Spehar. He himself had had meetings with the ambassadors of Russia, France and the UK, he added.
Kareklas also handed Garber a letter, a copy of which he sent to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York asking that the village be allowed to make 3D copies of artefacts stolen from the area and donated to the museum by the US Consul Luigi Palma di Cesnola during his tenure in Cyprus between 1865 and 1877.
Although the [Metropolitan] Museum is private and does not belong to the government, the US ambassador promised to do everything she could to meet our request,” said Kareklas.
Garber, in her statements following her visit to the archaeological site, said the collaboration between the American students and the municipality of Athienou “is fantastic since they work together to bring to light the rich history of Cyprus”.
“The area is impressive and we were able to see some of the findings come to light, while new items are being found there daily,” she added.
The Malloura-Athienou excavations are led by Davidson College Professor of Archaeology, Michael Toumazou, originally from Athienou, who briefed the visitors. Malloura was occupied from the Geometric through Ottoman periods, ca. 8th century BC to the 19th century AD.
It is time to push for more crossings, the crossing at Athienou, via Piroi would be a monumental step forward, as the isolated village of Athienou, which has a half Moon border around it, would no longer be cut off from Nicosia, which is in fact only 8 miles away, but currently it is over 20, due to the detour.
We need to be aiming to create as many opportunities as possible for people to meet and stop living behind a border. Most people have had enough, they want to be able to live, to travel around the whole island unhindered and without restriction. In terms of moving forward, this is a very important and necessary step. We need only look at Ledra street, not long ago it was little more than run down back streets, yet now it is the life and soul of Nicosia.
The walls of Famagusta are about two miles in length, totally surrounding the old city, and are remarkably well preserved. Probably the best view of them is from the moat, itself running for over a mile along the three landward sides. Don’t believe some maps that tell you part is inaccessible because of military occupation. This has not been the case for several years now. Although meant to be a foot and cycle path, it is possible to drive round the moat, although you get a much better view on foot.
When the Venetians took over Cyprus in 1489, they inherited a city that already had defensive walls, built by the Lusignans. These walls were tall and thin for defence against the siege engines and bows and arrows of the day. However, by 1489, warfare had changed. The invention of gunpowder meant that cities now had to be defended against cannon attack, and Famagusta’s walls were no longer suitable defence against the Ottomans, who were seen as the major threat, (Correctly as was seen just 80 years later).
The Venetians immediately started to renovate and update the walls, bringing in specialists from Venice to oversee the work. The walls and bastions were strengthened, redundant arrow slits and openings being closed up. In their place, openings were made in the walls to house cannons and other modern artillery.
The towers and bastions are as follows. (Clockwise from the Land Gate)
The Rivettina Bastion. (The Land Gate, The Ravelin or the Akkule)
San Luca Bastion.
Martinengo Bastion. (The Tophane)
Del Mezzo Bastion. (Martyrs’ Bastion)
Diamante Bastion. (Karpaz Bastion)
Signora Bastion (Ringed Enclosure)
Othello’s Tower. (The Citadel or Castella) Originally built by the Lusignans as a moated castle outside the city wall.
The Sea Gate (Porta del Mare)
Canbulat Bastion. (Arsenal)
Compasanto Bastion. (Ringed Bastion)
Andruzzi Bastion. (Water Bastion)
Santa Napa Bastion. (Golden Bastion)
The Ravelin, Famagusta City Wall
The Rivettina Bastion (Land Gate) which was the original Lusignan entrance was greatly thickened and extended.
The Marttinengo Bastion was built at the northwest corner of the city. This was considered the most vulnerable point of the city. It was felt that any invading force from the sea would land farther up the coast in the Salamis area, and attack from the land. The design of this bastion was such that not only did it command a field of fire landward, but its cannons could be directed along the line of the wall should any invading force get into the moat.
This proved so successful, that during the siege of Famagusta in 1570, the Ottomans didn’t even attempt to attack this area.
The walls, which are on average 30ft thick, also housed stables, arms depots and tunnels to get from one part of the wall to another. These spaces were put to good use in 1974, when the Turkish Cypriots used the walled city as a place of refuge against the Greek Cypriot militia.
The walls were built on existing rocky outcrops.
Walls Built on Existing Outcrops
The moat was also built by the Venetians, the earth dug out being used to fill the gaps inside the walls where they had been extended.
If you were a military commander at the time, and were faced with the job of taking a walled city, you had three ways you could do it. You could go over the walls, or go through them. If those failed, the third course of action would be to go under them, undermining the foundations, and laying charges of gunpowder to blast a breach in the walls.
In order to counteract this possibility, the Venetians, where possible built the walls on top of rocky outcrops in order to protect against tunnelling, and you can see signs of this as you walk along the moat.
In 1570, the Ottomans attacked Cyprus, quickly taking possession of all but Famagusta. As the city would not surrender, the Ottomans laid siege to it. The siege lasted for ten months. It is said that an attacking army some 200,000 strong faced a city defended by a population of 8,000. In attacking Famagusta, the Ottoman army lost some 50,000 men, and fired some 150,000 cannon balls at the city.
Evidence of the siege, some 450 years later
A 450 year-old Siege Cannon Ball Still in the Wall
You can still see evidence of siege to this day. Inside the city, much of the damage to the churches is from this time. They were the only buildings visible above the city walls, and provided a tempting target. As you walk along the moat, take time to look at the walls. Much of the missing stonework is not from the ravages of time, but from the ravages of cannon shot. If you look carefully, you can still see the occasional cannon ball, still embedded in the walls after nearly four and a half centuries.
The Venetians had done their job well. The closest the Ottomans got to breaching the walls was in July, 1571, when they came near to taking the Rivetinna Bastion, and started to scale the walls. The Venetian commander, however, had anticipated this eventuality, and detonated explosives placed for such a moment, burying 1000 Ottoman soldiers.
It couldn’t last, of course, and in August, 1571, having lost 6000 of his 8000 soldiers, and the remainder suffering from disease and starvation, the garrison commander surrendered.
To this day, the walls of Famagusta have never been breached by a hostile force.
The Saint Hilarion Castle lies on the Kyrenia mountain range, in Cyprus. This location provided the castle with command of the pass road from Kyrenia to Nicosia. It is the best preserved ruin of the three former strongholds in the Kyrenia mountains, the others being Kantara and Buffavento. The castle is not named after St. Hilarion, active in Palestine and Cyprus in the 4th century. It was named after an obscure saint, who is traditionally held to have fled to Cyprus after the Arab conquest of the Holy Land and retired to the hilltop on which the castle was built for hermitage. An English traveller reported the preservation of his relics in the 14th century. It has been proposed that a monastery built in his name preceded the castle, which was built around it. However, this view is not supported by any substantial evidence. Starting in the 11th century, the Byzantines began fortification.
Saint Hilarion formed the defense of the island with the castles of Buffavento and Kantara against Arab pirates raiding the coast. Some sections were further upgraded under the Lusignan rule, who kings may have used it as a summer residence. During the rule of Lusignans, the castle was the focus of a four-year struggle between Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and Regent John d’ Ibelin for control of Cyprus. Much of the castle was dismantled by the Venetians in the 15th century to reduce the up-keeping cost of garrisons.
The castle has three divisions or wards. The lower and middle wards served economic purposes, while the upper ward housed the royal family. The lower ward had the stables and the living quarters for the men-at-arms. The Prince John tower sits on a cliff high above the lower castle. The upper ward was surrounded by a 1.4 metre-thick Byzantine wall, made of rough masonry. The entrance is through a pointed arch built by the Lusignans. This was protected by a semicircular tower to the east. Within the ward is a courtyard, with twin peaks being situated to either side of it. To the north-east is an extremely ruined kitchen. To the west are the royal apartments, dated by various sources to the 13th or 14th centuries.
Although mostly ruined today, this was a structure in the northeast-southwest axis, with a length of 25 m and width of 6 m. It has a basement containing a cistern and two floors. The ground floor has a height of 7 m and a pointed barrel vault. The upper floor is known for its carved windows, one of which is dubbed the Queen’s Window. These are placed on the western wall, which has a scenic view of the northern coast of Cyprus, especially the plains of Lapithos.