1974 Cypriot coup d'état

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The 1974 Cypriot coup d'état was a military coup d'état by the Cypriot National Guard and the Greek military junta of 1967–1974. On 15 July 1974 the coup plotters ousted President Makarios III and replaced him with pro-Enosis nationalist Nikos Sampson as dictator,[1][2][3] which led to the formation of a regime described as a puppet regime. The aim of the coup was the annexation of the island by Greece[4][5][6] and the coupists proclaimed the establishment of the "Hellenic Republic of Cyprus".[7][8]


The Republic of Cyprus was established in 1960 with the London and Zurich Agreements, and the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots were the two founding communities. However, following constitutional amendments that were proposed by Makarios III and rejected by Turkish Cypriots,[9] intercommunal violence erupted throughout the island, the Turkish Cypriot representation in the government ended partially due to forced prevention and partially due to willing withdrawal, and Turkish Cypriots started living in enclaves.[10]

Greece had established a national policy of enosis to achieve the island's union with Greece since the 1950s.[11] After 1964, the Greek government tried to control Makarios' policies, and following his unwillingness to obey Athens, attempted to destabilize his government. While the Greek policy shifted to a more cooperative one after 1967, when an extremist military junta took power in Greece in 1973, it supported the far-right EOKA-B group against Makarios.[12] Dimitrios Ioannidis, the de facto leader of the junta, believed that Makarios was no longer a true supporter of enosis, and suspected him of being a communist sympathizer.[2] Between 1971 and 1974, five plans were prepared by the Greek government to overthrow Makarios' government.[13]

The coup[edit]

Makarios (on the left), the deposed president, and Sampson (on the right), the dictator installed.

The coup was ordered by Dimitrios Ioannidis, a leading figure of the Greek junta, and Greek officers led the Cypriot National Guard to capture the Presidential Palace in Nicosia.[14] The building was almost entirely burned down.[15] Makarios narrowly escaped death in the attack. He fled the presidential palace from its back door and went to Paphos, where the British managed to retrieve him in the afternoon of 16 July and flew him from Akrotiri to Malta in a Royal Air Force Armstrong Whitworth Argosy transport and from there to London by de Havilland Comet the next morning.[1][2][16] On 19 July, he attended a United Nations Security Council meeting in New York and made a speech, in which he stated that Cyprus was invaded by Greece.[17]

The newly established regime has been described as an extremist puppet regime of the Greek junta.[18][19][20] On 15 July, between 8 am and 9 am, the coup leaders proclaimed their victory on the state channel Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation, saying "The national guard intervened in order to solve the problematical situation. [...]. Makarios is dead." However, before his flight, Makarios announced that he was alive from a private broadcast in Paphos. The new government heavily censored the press and left-wing newspapers stopped being printed. Only right-wing newspapers Machi, Ethniki and Agon continued publishing, and their style was very propagandistic. Sampson did not openly announce his intention of enosis in the days following the coup, but instead focused on suppressing any support for Makarios and heavy propaganda to vilify his government.[21]

In response, Rauf Denktaş, the leader of the Turkish Cypriot Administration, stated that he believed that the events were among Greek Cypriots and called for Turkish Cypriots not to go out, as well as for UNFICYP to take extensive security measures for Turkish Cypriots.[22] The Cypriot National Guard made no attempts to enter the Turkish Cypriot enclaves, but raided Greek and Turkish Cypriot homes alike in mixed villages to confiscate weapons. The Turkish government brought claims that ammunition was being carried to Cyprus by Olympic Air to the attention of UNFICYP.[23] Whether the Turkish Cypriots suffered as a direct result of the coup remains controversial, but Sampson was seen as an untrustworthy figure due to his pro-enosis policies and "brutal" role against Turkish Cypriots in 1963.[14]

Following the coup, the newly established junta started a crackdown on Makarios supporters, resulting in a number of deaths and a "significant number", according to Frank Hoffmeister, being detained. The number of deaths from the coup remains a disputed issue,[14] as the Republic of Cyprus lists the deaths due to the coup among the missing due to the Turkish invasion. According to Haralambos Athanasopulos, at least 500 Greek Cypriots have been placed on the list of 1617 Greek Cypriot missing people and their deaths blamed on the Turks and Turkish Cypriots.[24] According to Milliyet on 19 July 1974, violent clashes had broken out in Paphos, and even excluding Paphos, the death toll due to Greek Cypriot infighting was about 300 civilians and 30 Greek soldiers, who bodies were brought to Athens.[23]


In response to the coup, on 20 July 1974 Turkey invaded the island claiming that the action was compliant with the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee,[25][26] taking control of the north and dividing Cyprus along what became known as the Green Line, cutting off about a third of the total territory. Sampson resigned, the military regime that had appointed him collapsed, and Makarios returned. The Turkish Cypriots established an independent government for what they called the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus (TFSC), with Rauf Denktaş as president. In 1983 they would proclaim the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on the northern part of the island, which remains a de facto state to the present day.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Mallinson, William (June 30, 2005). Cyprus: A Modern History. I. B. Tauris. p. 80. ISBN 978-1-85043-580-8. 
  2. ^ a b c "CYPRUS: Big Troubles over a Small Island". TIME. July 29, 1974. 
  3. ^ Cook, Chris; Diccon Bewes (1997). What Happened Where: A Guide to Places and Events in Twentieth-century History. Routledge. p. 65. ISBN 1-85728-533-6. 
  4. ^ Papadakis, Yiannis (2003). "Nation, narrative and commemoration: political ritual in divided Cyprus". History and Anthropology (Routledge) 14 (3): 253–270. doi:10.1080/0275720032000136642. [...] culminating in the 1974 coup aimed at the annexation of Cyprus to Greece 
  5. ^ Atkin, Nicholas; Biddiss, Michael; Tallett, Frank. The Wiley-Blackwell Dictionary of Modern European History Since 1789. p. 184. ISBN 9781444390728. 
  6. ^ Journal of international law and practice, Volume 5. Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University. 1996. p. 204. 
  7. ^ Strategic review, Volume 5 (1977), United States Strategic Institute, p. 48.
  8. ^ Allcock, John B. Border and territorial disputes (1992), Longman Group, p. 55.
  9. ^ Eric Solsten, ed. Cyprus: A Country Study, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, 1991.
  10. ^ Ker-Lindsay, James (2011). The Cyprus Problem: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford University Press. pp. 35–6. ISBN 9780199757169. 
  11. ^ Huth, Paul (2009). Standing Your Ground: Territorial Disputes and International Conflict. University of Michigan Press. p. 206. ISBN 9780472022045. From early 1950s onward Greece has favored union with Cyprus through a policy of enosis 
  12. ^ Doyle, Michael W.; Sambanis, Nicholas (2011). Making War and Building Peace: United Nations Peace Operations. Princeton University Press. pp. 263–4. ISBN 9781400837694. 
  13. ^ Athanasopulos 2001, p. 152.
  14. ^ a b c Hoffmeister, Frank (2006). Legal aspects of the Cyprus problem: Annan Plan and EU accession. EMartinus Nijhoff Publishers. pp. 34–5. ISBN 978-90-04-15223-6. 
  15. ^ "Presidential Palace". Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus. Retrieved 15 April 2015. 
  16. ^ Constandinos, Andreas (2009). America, Britain and the Cyprus Crisis of 1974: Calculated Conspiracy Or Foreign Policy Failure?. AuthorHouse. p. 206. ISBN 9781467887076. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  17. ^ UN The Official Record of United Nations Security Council 1780th Meeting (19.07.1974)
  18. ^ Coakley, John (2013). Pathways from Ethnic Conflict: Institutional Redesign in Divided Societies. Routledge. p. 131. ISBN 9781317988472. 
  19. ^ Madianou, Mirca (2012). Mediating the Nation. Routledge. p. 39. ISBN 9781136611056. 
  20. ^ Förster, Larissa (2013). Influence Without Boots on the Ground: Seaborne Crisis Response. Government Printing Office. p. 161. ISBN 9781935352037. 
  21. ^ Jüngling, Emili (June 2005). Perception of the facts about the coup in Cyprus (15th of July 1974) in the Cyprus daily press (PDF). 2nd LSE PhD Symposium on Modern Greece: “Current Social Science Research on Greece”. Hellenic Observatory, London School of Economics, London. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  22. ^ "Türk Birliği Alarma Geçti" (in Turkish). Milliyet. 16 July 1974. p. 7. 
  23. ^ a b "Kıbrıs'ta Türk Evlerinin Aranmasını Protesto Ettik" (in Turkish). Milliyet. 19 July 1974. p. 7. 
  24. ^ Athanasopulos, Haralambos (2001). Greece, Turkey and the Aegean Sea: A Case Study in International Law. McFarland. p. 15. ISBN 9780786450039. 
  25. ^ Farid Mirbagheri (2010). Historical Dictionary of Cyprus. Scarecrow Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-8108-5526-7. Retrieved 27 July 2012. 
  26. ^ Richard C. Frucht (31 December 2004). Eastern Europe: An Introduction to the People, Lands, and Culture. ABC-CLIO. p. 880. ISBN 978-1-57607-800-6. Retrieved 27 July 2012. The process reached a critical threshold in 1974 when a botched nationalist coup instigated by the Greek junta against the Cypriot government was used as a pretext by Turkey to invade and occupy the northern part of the island. Greece and ...