Turkish Republic of Cyprus: Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
- Contrary to common deception, the Cyprus problem did not start in 1974, but in December 1963, following the destruction of the 1960 Partnership Republic of Cyprus by the Greek Cypriot partner through force of arms. ...
- Between 1963 and 1974, Turkish Cypriots outlived the agonies and losses of the Greek Cypriot armed attacks, were confined to small enclaves ... In fact, the inhuman living conditions forced upon the Turkish Cypriot population were described as a “veritable siege” by the Secretary-General in his report of 10 September 1964 (S/5950) to the Security Council.
However, Fazıl Küçük, a Turkish Cypriot politician and journalist at the time who would go on to become the Turkish Cypriot Vice-President of the Republic of Cyprus, actually made the initial claim in 1955 that the Greeks of Cyprus would massacre Turks in Cyprus on August 28th of that year. So contrary to the deceptions of the Turkish narrative, the Turkish Cypriot side started the conflict and drew the first blood against Greeks, when one of the foremost leaders of their community created the pretext for the pogrom against the Greeks(and other gavur) of Istanbul. One can take that they like to conveniently forget that they initially made the claim of attacks and massacres against Turkish Cypriots a whole decade earlier as an admission of their sloppy lies. Here the eminent Greek-American historian, Speros Vryonis, belies their claims of virgin and innocent Turkish Cypriots:
The organization, legal incorporation, and sub rosa encouragement by Menderes and his colleagues of the Kıbrıs Türktür Cemiyeti[Cyprus is Turkish Association] in late August to early September of 1954 is rightly considered by many to mark a significant institutionalization of anti-Greek activities by the Turkish government and the second phase of the formation and mobilization of public opinion on Cyprus. It is at this point that the ktc becomes a new factor in Turkish politics. At the concluding session of the organizations first general meeting, the governing board proceeded to an open and systematic confrontation with Istanbul's Greek minority. The members of the new society invited Alexandros Chatzopoulos to join its governing council. It demanded that the patriarch admonish all Orthodox hierarchs to refrain from involvement in the politics of Cyprus. It further demanded that all the organizations of the Greek community in Istanbul issue printed statements that they took the side of Turkey in the Cyprus issue. With these demands, the government, through the ktc, began to tighten the two separate jaws of a political and ethnic vise that now increasingly threatened to crush the Greek minority. On the one hand was the political friction between Greece and Turkey over Cyprus, while, on the other, was the tradition of hatred, suspicion, and jealousy that many Turks—and many members of the Turkish government—inherited and harbored in their respective political outlooks.
Many of these attitudes were in evidence in the formal manifesto issued on October 17, 1954, at the annual meeting of the Organization for the Welfare of the Refugees from Western Thrace: "Since the Turks of Western [i.e., Greek] Thrace have remained as non-exchangeables [in Western Thrace] by virtue of the Treaty of Lausanne, as counterparts of the Greeks of Istanbul, they must be found to be in the same situation from every point of view [stress added] as the Greeks of Istanbul. This being the case, it is obligatory that equality shall be secured, and that the Turks of Western Thrace be raised to the level of the Greeks of Istanbul, or that the Greeks of Istanbul come down to the level of the Turks of Western Thrace." The organizations statement, including the explicit threat to bring "the Greeks of Istanbul... down to the level of the Turks of Western Thrace," was repeated and expanded by the Turkish press. The latter insisted that though the Greeks of Istanbul had been allowed to prosper so that they remained in the city, the Turks of Western Thrace had become so poor that they had to abandon the region and come to Turkey. Thus, the Turkish press was led to a different conclusion from that in the statement above, namely, that the Greeks should be removed from Istanbul. Unfortunately, both the Organization for the Welfare of the Refugees from Western Thrace and the Turkish press had very selective memories. They chose to ignore the three decades of incessant and growing discrimination against Istanbul's Greek community, which had been restricted in the trades and professions it could exercise—indeed, had been financially destroyed through the wartime measures that had plundered Greek businesses, estates, and wealth—and had its men conscripted into the harsh labor battalions of Asia Minor, in which many perished.'
On August 30, 1954, the day of national celebration of the decisive victory of the Turkish over the Greek forces in Asia Minor in 1922, the National Federation of Turkish Students attacked the Greek stores of Istanbul that had failed to place Turkish flags outside their shops. After an oral admonition of displeasure with these actions, the vali of Istanbul let the matter pass, however. In the event, despite the ups and downs in the continuing struggle between Britain and Greece in the United Nations over Cypriot self-determination, the intensity of demonstrations by students and regional organizations, and the stridency of the Turkish press, continued to increase. Throughout the winter of 1954-1955, this unrelenting pressure raised the temperature of Turkish internal political life and, in so doing, reduced the Greek minority of Istanbul to frightful despair. From June 30, 1955, when Great Britain invited Greece and Turkey to a conference in London to propose its own settlement of the Cyprus issue, to the time that Turkey and Greece accepted the invitation (July 2 and 8, respectively), the Turkish press and various Turkish organizations pulled out all the stops in a frenetic effort to rouse Turkish popular feelings and therefore complete the general task that they had set for themselves since the latter half of 1954. The appointment of a new foreign minister, Zorlu, who had very different views from his predecessor regarding Cyprus, fit in with the general turn of events.
Indeed, Zorlu was crucial in the further evolution of the events that led to the London conference, to its failure, and to the pogroms timing. After his appointment, on July 27, 1955, as acting foreign minister and Turkey's representative to the London conference, he established a small committee of experts to study the Cyprus problem. The committee included Nuri Birgi (general secretary of the ministry of foreign affairs), who composed Turkey's White Book on Cyprus; Rüştü Erdelhun (second-in-command of the Turkish general staff); Settar İksel (Turkish ambassador to Athens); Orhan Eralp (general director of the ministry of foreign affairs); and Mahmut Dikerdem.
Meanwhile, the press stepped up the frequency and intensity of its attacks on the Greek community, and the various organizations intensified their political activity in the same general direction. In June, Türk Sesi, a newspaper in which the government often aired its views, proposed amending the treaty of Lausanne (1923) so that the Greek etablis in Istanbul, whose status was regulated by the treaty, could be expelled from Turkey. In general, the subject of removing the patriarchate from Turkey, and a broad attack on the institution, had already become a set piece for the better part of a year and now began to appear in profusion.
This was to continue into August 1955, as the tripartite conference loomed on the horizon. With Zorlu's appointment, a new and more aggressive leadership infused Turkish policies toward Cyprus, Greece, and Great Britain with a vigorous and efficacious spirit. In this penultimate and intense stage of "manufacturing consent," the government, acting discreetly through the student and regional organizations, fully applied the tactics of disseminating false news and manufacturing rumors so as to raise to the level of hysteria the pitch of public fervor and anger against Istanbul's Greek minority.
A critical factor in this campaign of disinformation was the generation and diffusion of the false rumor, essentially manufactured by Fazıl Küçük, that the Greek Cypriots planned to massacre the Turkish Cypriots on August 28, 1955. Given the transformation of the Greeks of Istanbul into a helpless and hostage community, the rumor of a purported Greek plan (in fact, false) to massacre the Turkish minority of Cyprus required no daring conceptual leap on the part of belligerent Turks to consider the Greeks of their (mutual) city as future targets to be destroyed. Early on in its genesis, this rumor was exploited by Hikmet Bil, who issued a secret circular to the ktc's branch offices on August 16. Here, one can do no better than to quote from the transcript of the court-martial proceedings in February 1956 against him and other members of the society:
While Kamil Onal was making these trips and confusing opinion by boastings ignominious to his own country, Hikmet Bil took upon himself to send an urgent and secret circular directive to the organizations. In this circular, dated August 16, 1955, Hikmet Bil refers to a letter dated August 13, 1955, sent by the Cyprus is Turkish Party President General [sic] Dr. Fazıl Küçük to the central headquarters [of the society] in which the latter said that particularly recently the Island [i.e., Cypriot] Greeks had become intolerable and unfortunately the situation is becoming worse. If one can believe the news being spread around Nicosia, they [the Greek Cypriots] are getting ready for a general massacre [of the Turkish Cypriots] in the near future.
Dr. Fazıl Küçük added the following sentence in this letter:
My request of you is that as soon as possible you inform all branches of this situation and that we get them to take action. It seems to me that meetings in the mother country would be very useful. Because these [Cypriot Greeks] will hold a general meeting August 28. Either on that day or after conclusion of the Tripartite Conference they will want to attack us. As is known, they are armed and we have nothing.
Bil added his own order to the society's many branches, attaching it to the end of Küçük's message: "As might be suitable, with whatever additional observations that the headquarters wishes to make, please notify all organizations that our branches should choose whatever action they see fit, particularly with the view that London and Athens should be intimidated by the manly voices arising in the mother country." It is of no little interest to observe at this point the enormity of the transmogrification of Küçük's letter at Bil's hands, his transformation of a general fear of an "attack" on Turkish Cypriots into a specific plan, and finally the carte blanche to respond given to the ktc's branches, without prior approval of the society's governing board but undoubtedly with covert approval from on high (as we shall see later). One of the military tribunals set up by General Aknoz that later charged Bil accused him of incitement to violence, as argued below by Major General Namık Arguç:
This circular that gives the branches a complete freedom in the matter of actions to be taken in the mother country as a counter to the activity of the Greeks who had announced they were preparing for a massacre will go down in our political history as a masterpiece of presumption on the part of the Cyprus Is Turkish Society President General who took upon himself the defense of the Cyprus problem. Whereas in a matter this important it would not be a question for the central executive committee or even a congress, nor a general assembly. First the line the government would follow in such a case should be established to the last detail and then a circular might be sent to branches. Noting good intentions and common sense of the executive committee of the branches, it was necessary that the President take into consideration that they could fall into error or that each branch would consider the question from a different angle and that therefore a complication would arise. Later, during the explanation of the roles played by the Kadıköy and Sarıyer branch presidents Serafim Sağlamel and Osman Tan, it will become clear how this very urgent and secret circular was understood and particularly how the directive regarding the "intimidation from the manly voice" was applied.
Bil was charged—along with other members of the ktc, and with officials and members of dp branch offices—with a variety of offenses, including the ktc circular, burning Greek newspapers, and drafting a ktc statement on the day of the pogrom. His colleague, Kamil Önal, was accused of making various statements to the press, burning Greek newspapers, a demonstration in Taksim, and destroying evidence. (It should be added, in regard to these military tribunals functioning under the martial-law regime legislated on September 12, 1955, that they were clearly kangaroo courts. Hikmet Bil and his co-defendants were used as scapegoats by Menderes to deflect guilt from himself and his government. Still, the ktc did commit the acts of violence during the pogrom of which its leaders were accused. While Menderes bore the moral responsibility for the crime, his confederates were the actual perpetrators.)
Bil's secret circular to the ktc's branches helped considerably to inflame Turkish public opinion, but also to provoke acts of violence against the Greek minority, not only during the riots but, as we shall see, in the sporadic violence against Greeks that broke out even before the pogrom. Furthermore, his circular and its effects were tied to the violence of the local dp[Democratic Party] branch officers who were also officers of the ktc's local branches. Finally, Bil transformed the general anxiety of a segment of Turkish Cypriots—and the general, non-specific information passed on to him by Fazıl Küçük and Faiz Kaymak—into a definitive, planned, general massacre of Turkish Cypriots by their Greek neighbors on August 28. There is no evidence whatsoever that such a massacre was ever planned, and it was certainly never attempted either by eoka[National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters] or the Greek Cypriot leaders at the time. Nevertheless, through the circular and in an article that was published in Hürriyet on August 18, Bil gave the rumor of the massacre its final form, which, as such, was passed off to the Turkish people as a whole. Only two days after receiving the copy of Küçük's letter, he wrote in his newspaper that: "One can say today that the Greeks of Cyprus are fully armed. As for the Turks, they do not have weapons even for display. In this manner there has arisen today a paradoxical situation in Cyprus. According to special information that has been transmitted to us from Cyprus, the Greeks of the island will organize a major demonstration on the twenty-eighth of the present month, and they will attack the Turks. From all this, the Greeks have also given a name to this day: They have named it "The day of the general massacre'. ..." Accordingly, from August 18, by virtue of both the circular and the article in Hürriyet, the rumor of the massacre became an established "fact," and was now adopted by individuals and groups devoted to creating an atmosphere of hysterical chauvinism and passionate hatred of the Greek minority.
On the day Bil's article appeared, the ktc's Bandırma branch telephoned the offices of the newspaper Tercüman, which published the branch's decision to send 1,000 ktc members to defend Turkish Cypriots, all to go before August 28. One day later, on August 19, Hürriyet published the declaration of Hüsamettin Canöztürk (general director of the National Federation of Turkish Students) and of the president of the Union of Turkish Students, according to which, "The Greeks cannot proceed to general massacre in Cyprus because they would reflect carefully on the consequences of such an act." On the twentieth of the same month, the journalist Doğan Can published an interview with Bil in Yeni Sabah in which the Greek minority of Istanbul was depicted as hostages who would have to pay for the purported massacre of Turkish Cypriots, specifically on August 28 or 30: "I asked the General President of the organization ktc to inform me as to what his own opinion is in regard to the decision which the Greeks of Cyprus have taken in connection with the twenty-eighth of August, in which they have announced that that day will be the day of the general massacre of the Turks. To this question, Hikmet Bil gave me the following answer: 'The answer to such a question is the following: In Istanbul, there are many Greeks.'" On August 20, Tercüman published a second news item from Bandırma, according to which Menderes himself had replied to the local ktc office's offer to send 1,000 volunteers to defend Turkish Cypriots: "I esteem your patriotic sentiments. At the same time that I express to you my respect, please remain certain that the Government is ever alert and that it shall not hesitate to take the required measures." The following day, Yeni Sabah published a second statement by Faiz Kaymak: "The innocent and unarmed Turks fear that at any moment they will be massacred by the terrorists. We desire that Turkey provide every aid and that it ensure the lives and the property of the Turks of Cyprus."
The Turkish government, aware of the sources of this rumor-become-"fact," did nothing to squelch it. On the contrary, the government validated it by giving it credence and, ultimately, used it to justify its new Cyprus policy. Given the fact that Menderes's liaison with the ktc was his close confidant, Ahmet Emin Yalman (who was on the ktc's governing board); that Bil and his organization had been handpicked by Menderes himself as the man and group to arouse Turkish national passions; and that, finally, the organization itself was financed by the government, it is clear that Menderes knew well what the organization was about in spreading such rumors, first covertly, and then openly through the Turkish press. Finally, such a rumor-become-fact would please both Eden and Macmillan at the London conference, during which time the pogrom had been calculated to erupt.
On August 24, Prime Minister Menderes held a banquet at the Liman Lokantası (Harbor Restaurant) in honor of Foreign Minister Zorlu and of the members of his mission who were to depart for London to represent Turkey at the tripartite conference. Among the guests were various other ministers, members of parliament, businessmen, and newspaper editors. Menderes would seize the occasion to make a strong public statement on Turkeys new policy on Cyprus. The process of transforming his previous, more circumspect policy vis-a-vis Greek claims in Cyprus and the issue of self-determination had ended as a result of the Turkish response to the British prodding of the preceding year. The intensified encouragement and support, often covert, of student and political organizations now gave way to a trumpeting of Turkeys overriding interest in Cyprus because of the former's "historical rights" in the matter and because the Turkish minority was supposedly threatened by massacre. The timing was excellent, as the new Turkish team of foreign-ministry specialists and officials were preparing for the trip to the London conference after having prepared and published the White Book that set forth Turkey's claims, indeed demands, which not only startled the Greek side, but made the British apprehensive at the Pandora's Box-like results that they had provoked, with a number of Foreign Office staff unsure as to what they had unleashed exactly. The Greek scholar, Neokles Sarres, has described the Turkish appearance at the conference as the "Turkish Premiere." The time and place were appropriate for Menderes's speech to the assembled banqueters. The speech formally announced Turkey's new policy and outlined the demands to be made in London. It also included the timeworn cliches about his opposition to Cypriot self-determination, the plight of Turks in Greek Thrace, the war between Greeks and Turks in Asia Minor, the old (and long-settled) "Cretan Question," and related subjects of random relevance. He gave his sharpest attention and force to Cyprus, however, still building on Bil's fabrications:
I wish to observe that our recently published diplomatic note to the British Government does not constitute the full and complete content of the actual importance and significance of this diplomatic note. In this diplomatic note, we expressed the malaise which we feel over the danger to which our fellow Turks in Cyprus are exposed.
The stance that the terrorists have taken on the question of Cyprus, and all that which is being said in regard to our subject, have plunged us into justified uneasiness. This malaise refers in part certainly also to the future. Among all these things, the major source of our malaise is constituted by all those things that are reported, somber events that will unfold in Cyprus from one day to another. We do not wish to consider these things certain, nor are we able to accept that it is possible that the matter may take such a turn. Nevertheless, those men announce uninterruptedly, with a terrorist air, that August 28 shall be a day of general massacre of our fellow Turks in Cyprus. We are certain that the British Government, based upon its legal rights, shall carry out its obligations thoroughly. It is said that the excitation of the Greek population of the island...has reached a peak. Consequently, a sudden undertaking, a criminal initiative devoid of all conscience, could provoke results of which the consequences would be inescapable and incurable. ... The local officials, it is possible, will be unprepared for this. And our population there will probably be found to be unarmed and unable to move against a majority which is extremely excited and armed. This does not mean, however, that these people, I mean the Turks, will remain, not even for a moment, undefended.
This speech combined many of the weapons of political complaint from the traditional Turkish armory of diplomatic war on Greece. Nevertheless, it was based primarily on the fabricated Greek Cypriot plan to massacre Turkish Cypriots, combined with a new diplomatic offensive to wrest the previously existing advantage from the Greek side and transfer it to the Turkish side. This offensive would ultimately lead to the split of the Demokrat Parti, the pogrom of September 6-7, 1955, the destruction of the Greek community of Istanbul, and the poisoning of all hopes for some kind of rational and peaceful accommodation of two neighbors fated to live side by side. For Turkey and its people, the speech was the opening salvo in the dictatorialization of Menderes's government; it also led to the decades-long presence and interference of the military caste in Turkish society, politics, culture, education, and the economy that was inaugurated by the overthrow of Menderes's government by the military coup of May 27, 1960. For Menderes was to be destroyed in the end by his very success in subverting the structure of democratic government through the party structure of the Demokrat Parti, which, at the same time, was increasingly subjected to his personal authority.
137. Theodoropoulos, Semeioma, p. 3; Armaoğlu, Kıbrıs meselesi, p. 124; Robert Holland, Britain and the revolt of Cyprus, 1954-1959, Oxford, 1998, passim, especially Chapter 3, pp. 55-82; and Francois Crouzer, Le conflit de Chypre, 1946-1959, Brussels, 1973, Volume II, pp. 688-690.
138. Chrestides, Ekthesis, pp. 120-121.
Theodoropoulos, Semeioma, p. 3. See note 131 above.
141. For a detailed account, see Sarres, E alle pleura, Volume II Part I, pp. 51-71; Dikerdem, Ortadoğuda devrim, pp. 121-159, especially p. 125. Sarres, pp. 81-83, gives a detailed exposition of the new Turkish position on Cyprus as presented in London and in the Turkish White Book. Also, Armaoğlu, Kıbrıs meselesi, pp. 27-28; Burçak, Yassıada ve öncesi, pp. 124-125, like many other observers who wanted a more aggressive Turkish policy on Cyprus, warmly welcomed the replacement of Köprülü with Zorlu as foreign minister, and his evaluation of the two men represents the thought of all those who wanted Cyprus for Turkey. Whether Zorlu's "abilities" served his country well in the end or not remains in question.
142. Palaiologos, Diagramma, pp. 20-22, gives a representative sampling of the specific issues and tone of the Turkish press; for other references, see footnote 137 above.
143. Theodoropoulos, Semeioma, pp. 4-5.
144. Such was the opinion also of Nüsret Kirişçioğlu, Yassıada Kumandanına cevap, p. 149: "Köprülü, a man with no clear idea, was an incompetent minister. ...We almost lost Cyprus because of him. Finally, the late Fatin Rüştü Zorlu was elected to the Assembly and we were saved. ...We were saved but the blessed Fatin Rüştü Zorlu was not able to save his neck from the hands of the clever Fuat Köprülü. ..."
145. Sarres, E alle pleura, Volume II, Part I, passim.
146. National Archives, Dispatch No. 306, American Consul General of Istanbul to the Department of State, February 20, 1956. The memorandum is discussed in Armaoğlu, Kıbrıs meselesi, pp. 127-130. Dosdoğru, 6/7 Eylül olayarı, p. 220, quotes the text from the third trial at Yassıada. It is interesting that Chrestides, Ekthesis, pp. 152-153, translates from the Turkish newspaper Tercüman, August 19, 1955, a message by Faiz Kaymak in Ankara stating that the Turks of Cyprus are being threatened with destruction and asking for assistance from Turkey.
147. National Archives, Dispatch No. 306, American Consul General of Istanbul to the Department of State, February 20, 1956.
148. Chrestides, Ekthesis, p. 153 149 Ibid., p. 154.
150. Ibid., p. 155.
151. Ibid., p. 155.
152. Ibid.,p. 156.
153. Sarres, E aile pleura, Volume II, Part I, pp. 74-77, gives a brief survey of the virulence of the Turkish press.
154. Sarres, Ibid., has an informative account of the meeting as well as of the perception of the coming London gathering from the pen of a more junior member of the diplomatic mission, Mahmut Dikerdem, as presented in the latter's memoirs, Ortadoğuda devrim, pp. 121-159.
155. Chrestides, Ekthesis, pp. 157-158, where it is translated into Greek.
Vryonis, Speros. The Mechanism of Catastrophe: The Turkish Pogrom Of September 6-7, 1955, And The Destruction Of The Greek Community Of Istanbul. Greekworks.com (New York, 2005). p. 80-88.