Keeping the Peace in the Cyprus Crisis of 1963-64

Keeping the Peace in the Cyprus Crisis of 1963-64

Keeping the Peace in the Cyprus Crisis of 1963-64

Keeping the Peace in the Cyprus Crisis of 1963-64

Synopsis

During the Cold War, Cyprus was of great strategic importance to the West. Britain, the US, and NATO all had valuable installations there, and any armed conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots could easily pull two nearby NATO members—Greece and Turkey—into war. When intercommunal fighting broke out in Cyprus in December 1963, the West was deeply embarrassed. This book examines the efforts of first Britain, and then the UN, to keep the peace.

Excerpt

The adage that geography is the mother of history can have few better exemplars than Cyprus. Throughout recorded time, its political experience has reflected the interlocking impact of two utterly basic geographical factors: size and location. From their influence the island has been wholly unable to escape. Moreover, that influence has almost always had unfortunate consequences for the people most immediately concerned – the Cypriots.

By either of the two traditional criteria for size – area and population – Cyprus is very small. The island could comfortably fit into the whole of Connecticut, half of Wales, or one-seventh of Sri Lanka. It is also – and always has been – rather thinly populated, mustering about half a million people by the middle of the twentieth century. In consequence, it has never been in a position to threaten any of its neighbours; and should any of them wish to threaten it, Cyprus would on its own be unable to mount an effective defence. In fact, from early historical times virtually to the present day, it has been manipulated by surrounding states. Its destiny has been that of a prey.

The attractiveness of Cyprus stems from its location. Nestling not far from the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, the island is sited in an area which, until the 1990s has always had great geopolitical significance. It was here that civilization in the West began, and with it the warring of its leading elements. In the ancient world, this competition focused on the Fertile Crescent – that huge curved sweep of productive and traversable territory running from the valley of the Nile to those of the Tigris and the Euphrates. In the Crescent’s western part, Egypt sought to contain the Assyrians and Hittites, and the Phoenicians made themselves felt offshore. Later, the Mediterranean littoral itself gave rise to powers who expanded and clashed around

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