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Cyprus Crisis: Examining the Role of the British and American Governments During 1974 (Hardback)

The Cyprus Crisis: Examining the Role of the British and American Governments During 1974



Postage and Packing Free - Whitehall and Washington’s responses to the Greek military coup



Detailed Description

publication date: March 2012
ISBN 978-1-84102-311-3
230 x 150mm
408 pages

The Cyprus Crisis examines recently released and declassified British and American government documents, in order to scrutinize the roles played by both of these countries during the Cyprus crisis of 1974. It evaluates British and American aims towards Cyprus, analysing in particular the roles played by British Foreign Secretary James Callaghan and US Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, and their respective relationships with the Cypriot, Greek and Turkish governments. Also, the book considers Whitehall and Washington’s responses to the Greek military coup, the Turkish invasion the two Geneva conferences on Cyprus, the second, consolidatory, phase of the Turkish invasion as well the events post-invasion up to and including the death of President Makarios. Ultimately, the book seeks to ascertain whether there exists any credible evidence to support the belief that Britain and/or America were complicit in the coup against Makarios as well as whether they colluded with Ankara in her subsequent partition of the island.


This book is one of a very small body of historical works which attempt to provide accounts of various aspects of the Cyprus crisis of 1974 based, as far as possible, on properly attested historical evidence concerning the background, the course and the effects and long-term consequences of the coup d’ état by the National Guard against President Makarios and the Turkish invasion which followed it.

The general idea of evidence-based history may be understood as a type of intellectual discipline which tries to investigate, ascertain and set out in a coherent and intelligible narrative “what actually happened” in a certain area of a certain society, or in two or more interacting societies or peoples or civilisations at some period in the past on the basis of proper and relevant evidence. The evidence could be archaeological findings and other material remnants of past societies; newspapers, books and other publications; records of public speeches and closed meetings; personal or formal correspondence; memoirs, diaries and oral testimony of witnesses; diplomatic despatches, official or quasi-official documents, memoranda; sound archives, photographs, films and videos, and so on. The evidence has, of course, to be processed by the historian, the reliability of its source assessed and the credibility of its content scrutinized. Where different data contradict each other, one datum will be accepted and the other rejected, or perhaps both will be rejected. In developing his account of a course of past events, the historian will be required to use his judgment and intellectual imagination to link together pieces of reliable evidence and when necessary to fill any gaps with elements of credible guesswork which, however, do not contradict reliable internal or external evidence. The emerging historical account which the historian presents to the public has something of the character of a mosaic which creates, through the assemblage of small pieces of stone or glass, an image which is recognizable and in some sense rationally credible and satisfying. A historical account is credible and satisfying when, for example, it organizes and presents reliable information about the conditions in a given society, the relative influence exerted by individual actors and groups, the motives and interests of leading players and the actions they carried out as a result, the reactions by other players, the impact on parts or the whole of society, responses from players outside the society in question and so on. When we read a carefully crafted historical work which contains innumerable pieces of properly referenced and interlinked information about people and events which cohere with each other and also with what we know about the society and period in question from other sources, including our memories and our observations, we recognize a convincing, a life-like picture of “what actually happened”.

This phrase was in fact used by the great 19th century German historian Leopold von Ranke to indicate his favoured conception of history, which contrasted to an older moralistic conception of history whose aim was taken to be that of “judging the past, of instructing the present for the benefit of future ages.” The moralistic conception has never been entirely abandoned: historical works written in this style have appeared in many different areas of historical inquiry. In the case of historical writing on contemporary Cyprus, the Rankean or evidence-based conception of history may be contrasted to the mainstream moralistic writings in which historical material is deliberately or unconsciously selected while other is suppressed, and conclusions are determined, in light of a wish to advocate a moral or political cause, denounce the perceived perpetrators of past injustices against Greek Cypriots, or in other cases Turkish Cypriots, with the unstated aim of soliciting sympathy and support from powerful foreign players. Works of evidence-based history are a scarce commodity in Cypriot studies, and arguably they are more often than not received with suspicion and – when they challenge entrenched prejudices – indignation by conventionally minded readers.

Dr Andreas Constandinos’ book is a serious and in many ways valuable contribution to the evidence-based study of the Cyprus crisis of 1974. In the course of his research, our author must have studied most publications on the recent history of Cyprus, and he has conducted a Herculean effort to find, study and evaluate a wide range of primary material – mostly diplomatic documents – in archives on both sides of the Atlantic. The original edition of the book appeared in 2009 under the title America, Britain and the Cyprus Crisis of 1974: Calculated Conspiracy or a Foreign Policy Failure? The question in the subtitle focuses on an issue which touches a raw nerve in the collective body of Greek Cypriots and mainland Greeks; for it is a matter of unshakeable conviction among most of them – a conviction which resists any contrary evidence – that the Turkish invasion of 1974 was the product of a dark conspiracy between America, Britain, Turkey and certain elements of the Greek military regime to remove President Makarios from power, destroy the independent, liberal and largely unified republic, and divide Cyprus into a Greek-dominated and a Turkish-dominated part. The Turkish Cypriots and mainland Turks, as may be expected, have their own unshakeable convictions, one of which is that the British government continued to recognize the Makarios government despite the breakdown of the constitutional order in December 1963 and the physical separation of the two communities in summer 1974, not because of any true merits of the Greek Cypriot case, but for the selfish motive of ensuring the smooth operation of the British Sovereign Bases on the south part of the island which required good relations and cooperation between the two governments.

Dr Constandinos’s book considers a large body of documentary and other evidence relating to the development of the crisis from the death of Grivas through the National Guard coup, the Turkish invasion, and the two Geneva conferences, and finds no support for the view that there had been any collusion between the main external interested parties to bring about the partition of Cyprus. In fact the aims of American and British diplomacy were opposed throughout his period.

The original edition of this work has already made an impact on Cyprus studies, but much less than it deserves to do, considering its masterly use of diplomatic and political sources from the period, the clear and convincing development of the dramatic narrative, and the sound conclusions. It is to be hoped that the new expanded edition will reach a wider reading public, including younger and older historians and international relations scholars, politicians, diplomats, journalists and regular Cyprus-watchers, who may be willing to study it with an open and critical mind Dr Zenon Stavrinides, University of Leeds

The most comprehensive account of this crucial period of Cypriot history yet undertaken. In doing so, it challenges the widely-held view that the events of 1974 amounted to an Anglo-American conspiracy to let Turkey divide Cyprus Dr James Ker-Lindsey, LSE

Of all the books I have read on the subject yours best captures the atmosphere and feel for events Tom Boyatt, US Ambassador


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