Accounts of Greek & Turkish
Coexistence in Cyprus
GREEK AND TURKISH CYPRIOT COEXISTENCE AND TMT
"There are many examples of joint upsprings against the Sultan and the Pashas. We
shall only mention the uprising of Halil Agha in 1765, of the Messaoria peasants in
1804-1805 and of Giaour Imam in 1833. In these upsprings Greeks and Turks fought jointly
for better living conditions, but they were put down through the co-operation of aghas-
landlords and the higher Greek Clergy. This brief survey of the circumstances that enabled
the Ottoman Empire to impose itself upon Cyprus accounts for the main causes that led to
the cooperation of the Greek and Turkish masses."
Ibrahim Aziz, The Historical Course of the
Cypriot Community, 1981.
For hundreds of years Greek and Turkish Cypriots lived in social harmony and economic
interdependence in the villages and towns of Cyprus.
This web of interdependence was only disturbed after protracted and violent attacks
against it. Even after incidents, planned and instigated to prove that Greek and Turkish
Cypriots could not live together, ordinary people again and again proved the opposite
until they were torn apart by the Attila operation in 1974.
The Turkish Cypriots originated as a Muslim population during the period when Cyprus was
ruled by the Ottoman Empire between the 16th and the 19th centuries. Some are descended
from the Greeks and Latins who changed their faith to ease the burden of oppression. Their
interdependence with the rest of the population of Cyprus is indicated by the fact that
until 1974 they lived intermingled in towns and villages all over Cyprus. The mass of
Greek and Turkish Cypriots lived and cooperated peacefully in an atmosphere of religious
and cultural tolerance. As Cyprus moved into the twentieth century, Greek and Turkish
Cypriot workers engaged in common trade union struggles organized in the Pancyprian
Federation of Labour.
During the years of colonial rule the Greek Cypriots agitated for freedom. The Turkish
Cypriot minority was the object of continuous attempts at manipulation aimed at converting
them into an instrument of colonial policy in countering the anti-colonial movement
of the rest of the population of the island. The Colonial power involved Turkey in its
dispute with the people of its colony: It was easier to continue ruling the colony if the
dispute was not between the colonial masters and its subjects, but a more
TMT was the outcome of Turkey's cooperation with the colonial power, and was the means of
frustrating the wishes of the majority of the population of Cyprus,
dividing Greek and Turkish Cypriot and beginning the long path towards partition.
The organization was set up by Mr Rauf Denktash. "I had set up the TMT with a few
friends...Everybody thought that I was the leader, but I was not. I was political advisor.
Immediately after forming it I handed it over... The leaders were former army officers
(The Times, 20.1.1978)
Dr Kuchuk takes up the story with an account of how Riza Vurushkan came to Cyprus from
Turkey to lead TMT.
"Year 1957...in order to give daily reports to Ankara...and to secure aid from Turkey
I used to go to Ankara very frequently. During one of these visits, the late Prime
Minister of Turkey, Adnan Menderes, introduced Riza Vurushkan to me...Later I met him at
the office of a Lieutenant General and talked with him there. During our meeting it was
decided that Vurushkan should come to
Cyprus as "civilian adviser". He arrived in Cyprus under an assumed name and
settled down here."
(Halkin Sesi, 16.2.1979)
TMT incited anti-Greek riots and tried to force Turkish Cypriot workers to establish
separate trade unions.
Murder, arson and intimidation were the means that TMT used in order to prove that Greek
and Turkish Cypriots could not live together. The victims were trade unionists,
journalists and ordinary Turkish Cypriots who resisted TMT's call.
After the signing of the Zurich and London Agreements in 1959, which led to the
independence of Cyprus, TMT continued its clandestine activities in the cause of dividing
Cyprus, and was to continue until 1984 as Mr Ozgur was to
In October, 1959, seven months after the signing of the agreements on Cyprus independence,
the British mine-sweeper HMS Burmaston intercepted the Turkish
boat "Deniz" as it was attempting to deliver a shipment of arms to TMT in
Despite TMT terrorism, the mass of Greek and Turkish Cypriots citizens entered hopefully
into the period of independence.
Some TMT attacks against Turkish Cypriots, May-July, 1958
- 22.5.58: Murder attempt against Ahmet Sadi, Director of the
Turkish Office of the Pancyprian Workers Federation. In order to save his life, Sadi left
Cyprus soon after and settled in England.
- 24.5.48: Murder of Fazil Onder, Chief Editor of the weekly newspaper
- 29.5.58: Murder of Ahmet Yahya, committee member of the progressive Turkish Cypriot
- 5.6.58: Murder attempt against Hasan Ali, member of a Construction Workers Committee of
the Pancyprian Labour Federation.
- 30.6.58: Murder of Ahmet Ibrahim, a barber from Limassol, because he had friendly
relations with Greek-Cypriots and expressed himself in favour of Greek-Turkish
- 3.7.58: Murder attempt against Arif Hulusi Barudi. He was working in a business
owned by a Greek Cypriot. Before the attempt he had received a threatening letter
demanding that he leave his job.
"The Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots alike were spread widely over the island-
not according to any fixed geographical pattern but rather as a result of the usual
factors behind the movement and settlement of people over many generations; for example,
the search for farming land and for employment, and other such social and economic
motives... Thus out of 619 villages at the time
of the last census, 393 were wholly or predominantly Greek Cypriot, 120 were Turkish
Cypriot and 106 were classified as mixed. But the villages themselves are not usually to
be found in clusters where one community or the other
predominates; the more general pattern in any given area is a mixture of Greek Cypriot,
Turkish Cypriot and mixed villages. The capital, Nicosia, and the other main towns such as
Famagusta, Limassol and Larnaca are also mixed in population... There is evidence of
considerable intermingling of the two communities, more especially in employment and
commerce but also to some degree
at the social level."
Gallo Plaza, United Nations Mediator,
"Report to the
Secretary General", 1965.
"Going ...back... to our schooldays... I don't think that the generation of that age,
the boys of that age... had any cause for alarm for the future... were years when people
who are now in our age group knew there was British
"repression" on the island... We were just boys in the English School; Greek and
Turkish boys living probably in the same street in opposite houses, playing together,
fighting together... As a boy I remember going around with my father to Greek monasteries
all over Cyprus, to Greek houses, and being entertained by Greeks on an equal footing as
friends, good friends. They used to come to
our house, too, and the reason, I now believe, looking back, is that we had no
political quarrel, no political bone to pick".
Rauf Denktash at a Rotary Club Luncheon 1n 1972
in R. Denktash, "The Cyprus Problem", 1974.
"In 1954 I felt great anxiety about Cyprus.
Harold Macmillan was urging us to stir up the Turks in order to neutralise the Greek
agitation. I wrote a minute in opposition to this tactic. I also asked the Prime
Minister's private secretary if I could see Churchill on the subject,
but he absolutely refused even to pass on the suggestion, which he clearly regarded as
C.M. Woodhouse, "Something Ventured", 1982.
TMT Leaflet Circulated on 7 May 1958:
"Oh Turkish Youth! The day is near when you will be called upon to sacrifice your
life and blood in the "PARTITION" struggle - the struggle for freedom... You are
a brave Turk.
You are faithful to your country and nation and are entrusted with the task of
demonstrating Turkish might. Be ready to break the chains of slavery with your
determination and willpower and with your love of freedom. All Turkdom, right and justice
and God are with you. PARTITION OR DEATH."
quoted in Nancy Crawshaw "The Cyprus Revolt", 1978.
"Although the nucleus of the first Turkish Cypriot political party was organized in
1942, it was not until 1955 that the Turkish Cypriot community became politically active.
Within the next three years, a community political
structure was developed as a result not only of efforts of Turkish Cypriot leaders to
oppose Enosis, but also of encouragement from the British and Turkish officials who were
seeking to safeguard their countries' strategic
Dr Fazil Kuchuk in interview to R.A.Patrick, Doctoral
Dissertation, London School of Economics and
Political Science, 1972.
"The early stages of the Cyprus conflict, in the mid-1950's, were mainly a struggle
between the Greek Cypriots and the British Colonial power, with the Turks at that time
hardly interested in the island. There is strong evidence that the British Government of
the day deliberately encouraged an indifferent Turkey to take more active interest, as a
useful counterweight in the struggle against the Greeeks. One of the most violent
expressions of this artificially contrived Turkish indignation was on the night of 6th-7th
September 1955, when a terrifying Turkish mob destroyed quantities of Greek property in
Instanbul. It should be noted that at the Yassaida trials in 1960 evidence was given by
the defence witnesses that the Turkish Government had been put up to staging a
Cyprus demonstration by the then British Foreign Secretary Harold Macmillan, but that the
demonstration, mis-managed by Menderes, had degenerated into an
David Hotham, "The Turks", 1972.
"When the armed struggle started, the British had at their disposal thousands of men
and could even increase their existing numbers to put down the EOKA struggle. This they
did not do, but they formed instead the well known Auxiliary
Corps. The ordinary Turkish Cypriots, who did not realize where the British were leading
them (since their leadership did not warn them, rather it encouraged them), hastened
to reinforce this Auxiliary Corps thinking only of securing
a living. Thus, the Greek Cypriots, who thought that they were waging a holy struggle
against the British, found themselves facing the Turkish Cypriots. In this way
the British started submitting to the Turkish community their plans for
Ibrahim Aziz, "The Historical Course of the Turkish Cypriot Community", 1981