October 2, 2009

Henry Kissinger and Cyprus: A War Crime?

Saturday 26 September 2009
by Nicolas Mottas
American Chronicle

Henry Kissinger is perhaps the most controversial U.S. Secretary of State of the 20th Century. Like any famous political personality he has two sides, one bright and one darker: The prominent Harvard Scholar, father of the so-called ’realpolitik’ doctrine who became an expert in International Relations, but also the head of a shady diplomatic machine, whose name has been involved in political tragedies around the world. From the Vietnam war to the establishment of dictatorial regimes in Latin America.

One of these tragedies that has insolubly wounded Kissinger’s reputation is the 1974 Cyprus events - the Turkish military invasion which led to the island’s division. A situation which remains quite the same until today, making Nicosia the only divided capital city in the world. Actually, what was the role of Nixon and Ford’s Secretary of State in Cyprus?

From his side, Mr.Kissinger has supported that the United States couldn’t intervene in order to prevent Turkey’s invasion in northern Cyprus. For more than 30 years, the former U.S. Secretary has tried to "wash his hands" over the Cyprus Issue by arguing that he hadn’t the needed information in order to predict the aftermath of the coup against Makarios. However, Kissinger’s allegations have been decomposed, since the U.S. State Department published specific declassified documents. An important number of such documents certifies that the then U.S Secretary of State had in his hands relevant C.I.A. reports which were prognosticating the Turkish military operation.

In his book "The United States and the Making of Modern Greece, History and Power, 1950-1974", American historian James Miller supports that the State Department knew what was going to happen: Kissinger was actually informed about the actions of Grivas, leader of EOKA ’B, who in co-operation with Athens’ colonels planned the July 15th coup d’etat against Archbishop Makarios. These events eventually led to the Turkish invasion and island’s division. Reviewing Miller’s book, former U.S. diplomat John Brady Kiesling writes that "Miller is properly tough in condemning Kissinger for diplomatic incompetence as well as ideological blindness" while he mentions that "(ambassador) Tasca made himself persona non grata with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger by fervently urging 6th Fleet intervention to save Cyprus".

According to Cypriot journalist Makarios Drousiotis, Mr.Kissinger constructed his strategy on the Soviet threat. But, in fact, he knew that there wasn’t any serious interest from the side of Moscow - apart from verbal support of lawfulness in the island. Drousiotis, a correspondent for the Greek daily ’Eleftherotypia’, has presented a very interesting document of a conversation between Henry Kissinger and the Soviet ambassador in Washington Anatoly Dobrinin, just after the coup against Archbishop Makarios on July 1974: When ambassador Dobrinin says that "there are information that the British and the Turks are planning to do something (regarding the situation in Cyprus)" Kissinger replies that "we (the US) know for sure that Turkey is not going to do anything". Miscalculation, diplomatic mistake or just pure lies?

In any case, Drousiotis successfully comments that Kissinger was actually trying to avoid the "internationalization of the Cyprus case" and therefore was seeking a U.S. - U.S.S.R. regulation on the issue. Furthermore, the perspective of Turkey’s withdrawal from NATO was a nighmare for the then leader of U.S. diplomacy. Mr.Kissinger himself had expressed that fear during a discussion with Archbishop Makarios on October 2, 1974 in Washington D.C. (Eleftherotypia, 12 August 2009).

Apart from the various C.I.A. reports, Henry Kissinger had received relevant information from the then head of State Department’s office in Cyprus, Thomas Boyatt (Ta Nea, 19.8.2009). Just after the coup against Archbishop Makarios in Nicosia, Boyatt proposed the immediate restoration of Archbishop’s authority and the eviction of the Greek military officers who took active role in the events of July 15. That was probably the safest way to avert the Turkish invasion - nonetheless, Mr.Kissinger inexcusably rejected Boyatt’s proposals.

Unfortunately for Cyprus and its people, the U.S. Secretary of State repeated the same stance a few months after the first bloody invasion. He consistently rejected the proposal of the then British Foreign Minister James Callaghan to pose the threat of war against Ankara, in case of a new Turkish attack on Cyprus. It could be another strategic "mistake" of Kissinger, but in fact it was a conscious decision. Moreover, American Intelligence officers seem to have confirmed that Kissinger allowed arms to be moved to Ankara (The Raw Story, 27.6.2007). The results of the Kissinger tactic towards Cyprus are quite known.

More than 1500 Greek Cypriots still missing (the bones of three young men were found recently in a mass grave), thousands of uprooted families and continuous violation of Human Rights* from the side of the Turkish army. Unfortunately for the fame of U.S. Foreign Policy, Henry Kissinger and his policy contributed to this war crime. Since then, he has remained in the collective memory of the Greeks as an active - negative - protagonist in one of the darkest events of modern Greek history. And many of us would agree that a whole nation’s collective memory is perhaps stronger and tougher than any court’s decision. The truth is that Mr.Kissinger’s reputation - both moral and political - died in Cyprus, 35 years ago.

* In 1976 and again in 1983, the European Commission of Human Rights (E.C.H.R) found Turkey guilty of repeated violations of the European Convention of Human Rights, while numerous U.N. resolutions have condemned the 1974 effort of ’ethnic cleansing’ against Greek Cypriots.

- The US and the Making of Modern Greece
- New documents Link Kissinger to Two 1970s Coups