The Cyprus Conflict
Greece and Turkey fight for power
in the Mediterranean Sea
Background of Cyprus
• Cyprus is an island 50 miles off the coast of
Turkey, 500 miles from Greece
• Has been populated since 9000 B.C. with a
strong Greek presence starting around the 4th
century B.C.
• Conquered by Alexander the Great and ruled by
roman empire until 12th century
• 15th century – conquered by Ottoman Empire
• By the 19th century, Greeks on Cyprus wanted to
end Turkish rule.
• 1878 – Britain gains administrative control of
the island, but once Turkey fights in WWI
against Britain, Britain takes full control of the
island as a colonial territory
• The Greeks were happy; they hoped that under
Britain, power could be restored to Greece.
• Britain offered the Island to the Greeks if they
would fight in the war as allies of Britain, but
Greece refused, not wanting to get involved in
the war.
Cyprus Divided:
Background of Greece
• Greece was under Nazi control until October 12th
• At the end of WWII, the country faced a
collapsing economy and an infrastructure
destroyed by the allies during the war
• The Greek Communist party created the ELAS as
a Greek national liberation army in Cyprus
Background of Turkey
• In 1923, the Ottoman Empire falls, giving way to
the new Turkish Republic under Mustafa Kemal
• Turkey remains neutral through WWII, until
joining the allies in 1945
• In 1945 a multi-party system is introduced, and
the U.S. begins giving post-war aid to the
• In 1952, Turkey joins NATO with other anticommunist countries.
The Conflict Between Greece and
• The Cyprus Dispute was a territorial dispute
over an island in the eastern Mediterranean sea
between Greeks and Turks living on the island
• In 1960, the island was granted independence
form Britain, because the British officials could
no longer deal with the rising violence from
Greek nationalist Cypriots wanting the island
returned to Greek power. This idea was known
as “Enosis”
• George Grivas was the commander of the Greek
Cypriot National Guard
• He and the Greek Nationalists believed that
unification with Greece would be the only way to
gain political recognition and stability
• In September of 1971, Grivas formed EOKA-B, a
pro-unification organization
• When Grivas died in early 1974, the EOKA-B fell
under the control of Dimitrios Loannides, the
head of the Greek military junta
• The Archbishop of Cyprus, Makarios, had
abandoned enosis for a policy of coexistence
with the Turkish Cypriots and became president
• For this reason, Loannides and the EOKA-B
wanted to overthrow Makarios and continue in
the fight to return Cyprus to Greece
• The reaction of the U.S. was to send aid to
Turkey during this period.
• The Soviet Union also wished for influence in
the Mediterranean, and looked into control of
The Coup
• In a coup on July 15th, 1974, Makarios was
overthrown and fled to Britain.
• Nikos Sampson became the new president.
• There was chaos as Greek Nationalists attacked
the Turkish minorities in the north.
• World reactions varied, many sided with the
Turkish “victims” in the north
Counter-coup: Turkish Invasion
• On July 20th, in response, the Turkish army
invaded the island, bombing the capitol and
forcing the Greek military junta to step down
• The Turkish army occupied 37% of the north
eastern part of the island to protect Turkish
• Turkey then refused to withdraw troops and in
July of 1975, they appointed Rauf Denktash as
the new president until Makarios returned from
exile to resume his presidency
• Makarios and Denktash arranged a settlement
and in November of 1983, Turkey declared its
territory in northern Cyprus the Turkish
Republic of North Cyprus
• This territory was not recognized by any other
• The United Nations still does not recognize the
northern part of the island as a republic, and the
conflict is an ongoing stalemate with sporadic,
isolated incidents of violence between the two
The Conflict Within Greece and Turkey
• For both countries, the conflict was a matter of
• Both nations had claim on the land both
historically and geographically. The Island was
heavily populated by the Greeks, however,
Cyprus is much closer to Turkey
The Cyprus Conflict in the Cold War
• Due to ties through NATO, the U.S. sent aid to
Turkey throughout much of the conflict, fighting
the EOKA-B which was created by Greece’s
Communist party.
• Some alliances of the cold war applied to this
• The conflict went beyond Greek and Turkish
nationalism as a fight between capitalists and
communists at a more global scale
• Bibliography
• "Cyprus Conflict Briefing." FlashPoints. (accessed March 22, 2009).
• “Cyprus.” World Book Encyclopedia. 2008 ed. 4, Chicago: Scott Fetzer
Company, 2008.
• Kinzer, Stephen. Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds. New
York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001.
• Kjeilen, Tore. " Turkey / History." LookLex Travel guides / Encyclopaedia . (accessed March 18, 2009).
• Lafeber, Walter. America, Russia and the Cold War 1945-2006. New York
City: McGraw-Hill Humanities/Social Sciences/Languages, 2006.
• Lloyd, T. O., and Trevor Owen Lloyd. British Empire 1558-1983 (Short
Oxford History of the Modern World). London: Oxford University Press,
• Pike, John. "Greek Civil War." Global (accessed March 18,
• Sowards, Stephen W.. "Balkan politics in the Cold War years." Michigan
State University Libraries. (accessed March 18,
• Stearns, Monteagle. "Stearns | Greece & Turkey: Clash of Civilizations." The
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Cyprus Conflict