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EOKA (Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston)

EOKA [Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston - National Organization of Cypriot Fighters] started a guerrilla campaign against British colonial rule aimed at self-determination and union with Greece (Enosis)on 01 April 1955. The campaign, which started when the first EOKA bombs exploded at 00.30 hours on 1st of April 1955, lasted until 1959 and caused the death of more Greek Cypriot civilians than the total of British killed. It created civil strife and mistrust between the two Cypriot communities. Tension increased in early 1957, when EOKA attacked Turkish police and auxiliaries. EOKA received direct support from Greece in money, arms, organization and propaganda. Greek-speaking Cypriots were awed by EOKA terrorists and subject to bombardment by Athens radio. Under a 1959 compromise settlement known as Zurich-London agreements, Cyprus became an independent Republic in 1960. Since then, April 1 is a national holiday. It was celebrated in memorial services in Churches and gatherings in cities and villages in the free part of Cyprus.

EOKA-B emerged twice, in 1963 and 1974, in collaboration and cooperation with Greece, to attack the Turkish Cypriots, one of the two co-founding partners of the Republic of Cyprus, with the aim of uniting the Island with Greece.

Between 1969 and 1971, several groups embarked on a renewed terrorist campaign for enosis. Grivas returned clandestinely to Cyprus sometime in the late summer or early fall of 1971 and set up a new guerilla organization, the national Organizaiton of Cypriot Fighters (Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agonistm B--EOKA B). Most members of the terrorist movement held regular jobs in the Greek Cypriot community; half were police officials and members of the National Guard.

There was also considerable evidence of support of EOKA B activities by the Greek junta, whose hostility to Makarios became increasingly apparent during the early 1970s. The junta was believed to be involved in several attempts on the life of President Makarios. In March 1970, Makarios narrowly escaped death when his helicopter was shot down. Makarios walked away from the crash, but his pilot was killed. Former minister of the interior Polykarpos Georkajis, in contact with local right-wing groups and the junta in Athens, was thought to be implicated, and was assassinated shortly afterward. A paramilitary presidential guard loyal to Makarios, called the Tactical Police Reserve, was organized in 1972. Consisting of fewer than 1,000 men, the Tactical Police Reserve succeeded in arresting large numbers of EOKA B guerrillas. In a further attempt to bring subversive forces under control, Makarios dismissed many National Guard and police officers suspected of EOKA B activity.

With the death of Grivas from a heart attack in January 1974, EOKA B came more directly under the control of the military junta in Athens, which, after a change of leadership, was even more hostile to Makarios. The archbishop, however, saw the Greekofficered National Guard as a more serious threat to his government than EOKA B. In a letter to the Greek president in early July, he accused the junta of attempting to subvert the government of Cyprus through the Greek officers of the National Guard, who in turn supported the terrorist activities of EOKA B. Makarion demanded immediate removal of the 650 Greek officers staffing the National Guard and their replacement by 100 instructors who would help reorganize the Greek Cypriot force.

The reply to the Makarios challenge came on 15 July 1974 in the form of a coup d'état led by Greek officers in the National Guard, under orders from Athens. The fierce fighting that broke out resulted in casualties estimated at over 500, but the lightly armed Tactical Police Reserve and irregular pro-Makarios units were no match for the heavily armed National Guardsmen and the EOKA B irregulars. Narrowly escaping capture when the presidential palace was bombarded, Makarios was flown to London from the Sovereyn Base Area at Akrotiri. Former EOKA gunman and convicted murderer Nicos Sampson, notorious for his brutality in the 1950s and 1960s, was proclaimed president. As Makarios had foreseen, but the Greek military leaders did not, Turkey reacted forcibly to the coup by landing a large number of troops on the northern coast of Cyprus. As a result, both the insurrectionary government in Cyprus and the military dictatorship in Greece fell from power.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:40:38 ZULU