The British occupied Cyprus from 1878 to 1960. In 1925 it
became a British colony.
From 1939 to 1945, Greek Cypriots fought on the side of the British in the Second World War, but remained set on Enosis (union with mainland Greece). The Turkish Cypriots, however wanted British rule to continue.
In 1950, Archbishop Makarios III was elected as the political
and spiritual leader. With the support of Greece, he headed the campaign for Enosis.
In 1955, a series of bomb attacks opened a violent campaign for Enosis by EOKA (National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters)
led by George Grivas, an ex-colonel in the Greek army, born in Cyprus. Grivas took the name of Dighenis, a legendary Cypriot hero, and he conducted guerrilla warfare from a secret hideout
in the Troodos Mountains. It is estimated that he had a maximum of 300 men, yet he successfully harassed 20,000 British troops
and 4,500 police.
In 1956, Britain deported Makarios to the Seychelles in an
attempt to quell the revolt. Turkish Cypriots were used as auxiliaries of British Security Forces, and become one of the
major targets of the EOKA.
In 1957, Field Marshal Sir John Harding was replaced by the civilian governor Sir Hugh Foot in a conciliatory move.
In 1958, Turkish Cypriots became alarmed by British conciliation and began demands for partition of the island. There were inter-communal clashes and attacks on the British.
Republic of Cyprus
In 1960, the British, Greek and Turkish governments signed a Treaty of Guarantee to provide for an independent Cypriot state within the Commonwealth and allowed the retention of two Sovereign Base Areas of Dhekelia and Akrotiri for the British. Under the treaty, each power was given the right to take military action in the face of any threat to the constitution.
Cyprus became independent. Archbishop Makarios (a Greek Cypriot) became the first President, Dr Kutchuk (a Turkish Cypriot) Vice-President. Turkish Cypriots, who formed 18% of
the population, were guaranteed the vice-presidency, three out of ten ministerial posts and 30% of jobs in the public service, 40% in the army and separate municipal services in the five major towns. Overall, a very complex constitution was drafted, including a lot
of decisions to be taken by majority of votes overall as well as within each community.
Between 1963 -1973, Greek Cypriots viewed the constitution as unworkable and proposed changes abolishing all veto rights and many ethnic clauses. These proposals were rejected by Turkish Cypriots and the Turkish government. Inter-communal fighting erupted. A UN Peace Keeping Force was sent in, but could not
stop all incidents of violence. According to some accounts, under intimidation from the Turkish backed TMT organisation, thousands of Turkish Cypriots moved into enclaves and isolated themselves, thus depriving the Greek Cypriots of rent for the properties they formerly occupied. According to other sources, Turkish inhabitants were forced into the enclaves by pro-Greek nationalists and forcibly isolated there for several months. The
UN moved in to supply them with food.
On 15 July 1974, the military government (junta) in Greece, with the support of the CIA and American national security advisor Henry Kissinger, ordered a coup by the Greek National Guard to overthrow Makarios who they saw as being too pro-Soviet. Makarios was forced to flee to a British base on the Island. A puppet regime was imposed under Nicos Sampson, a former EOKA fighter and paid CIA operative.
Five days after the coup, Turkish forces invaded Cyprus. The coup was put down in three days and democracy was restored.
On 14 August 1974, after a breakdown in UN talks, the Turks landed 40,000 troops on the north coast of the island. 200,000 Greek Cypriots fled to the South, while Turkish Cypriots were forced to leave their homes in the South. Turkish forces were left
in control of 37% of the island.
In 1975, the Turks set up a new State in the North of the island, but most countries continued to recognise the Southern government as the legitimate rulers of the whole island.
UN Forces stay as a buffer between the two zones.