Greece on Cyprus over “TRNC” crisis (1983)

Suggested Citation: Neophytos G. Loizides, Greek-Turkish Negotiations and Crises 1983-2003 Dataset , Queen's University Belfast (available online at http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentrefortheStudyofEthnicConflict/TeachingResearch/Datasets/Greek-TurkishNegotiationsandCrises1983-2003/#d.en.173636)

Case Summary:

On November 16, 1983, the Turkish Cypriot authorities, with the backing of Turkey, declare the independence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).[i] Following the declaration, Greek PM Andreas Papandreou expresses his determination not to back down on the issue. [ii]  Greece has to act quickly to prevent the recognition of the TRNC, as well as to secure relevant UN resolutions condemning this act. The international community is worried that Greece under Prime Minister Papandreou will resort to retaliatory measures against Turkey and the Turkish Cypriots. Possible scenarios include the militarization of the Greek Cypriots to match the Turkish occupation forces, and taking measures against the Turkish Cypriots, such as cutting water, electricity, or sewage lines between the two sides.[iii] In a full text search for keywords “Cyprus” and “crisis,” Lexis/ Nexis produces 76 results for the period 11/15/1983- 12/15/1983 (under category European News Sources).

Case Study Features

Effectiveness of Offensive Policies: 0

Offensive measures, such as a Greek military build-up, can help Cyprus very little in its defense, and might put Greek Cypriots at greater military risk, if Turkey retaliates. They might also weaken overall Greek deterrence of Turkey on other fronts (e.g. Aegean, Thrace), since Greece has a significantly smaller army. Moreover, it can minimize international support for Greece and Cyprus. Finally, given that the EEC, the UN, and the US make diplomatic efforts to prevent the recognition of the TRNC, it becomes unnecessary for Greece to introduce confrontational measures against Turkey. There is no prior change in the security dynamics between the players that could potentially explain a strong Greek reaction to the TRNC declaration.

Offensive vs. Defensive Signals Indistinguishable: 0

The Greek government considers the declaration an offensive move, while the newly-appointed Özal government and the Turkish Cypriots argue that the TRNC was declared in order to protect the Turkish Cypriots until the two communities reach a settlement. [iv] The Turkish side provides no arguments about how the recognition will serve this goal, while the international community overwhelmingly rejects the Turkish point of view. Especially after the UN resolutions, the TRNC declaration is clearly defined by neutral parties as illegal and therefore offensive with no elements of indistinguishability recognized by third parties.

Enduring Ethnic Rivalries: 1

There are “enduring ethnic rivalries” resulting primarily from the Turkish invasion of Cyprus nine years earlier in 1974.

Domestic Challenges: 0

Papandreou’s power in Greece is almost undisputable, and therefore, there is very little internal political competition. Parliamentary elections are also very far away. There is no major economic crisis in Greece in 1983-4. A 1982 poll finds that only 1 Greek in 10 thinks Papandreou is doing a bad job.[v]

Confrontational Policies (dependent variable): 0

Some demonstrations are held in Cyprus but not in mainland Greece,[vi] and no additional Greek military forces are sent to Cyprus. The Greek government does not encourage the GCs to retaliate against Turkish Cypriots. For example, there are no moves to cut the water, electricity, or sewage lines between the Greek Cypriots and the breakaway Turkish Cypriots in the North.[vii] Greek reactions to the unilateral declaration of TRNC are not confrontational. 

[i] “Radio Bayrak” in Turkish 1530 gmt 16 Nov 83, “TRNC's Call for Recognition, Source”, BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, November 18, 1983.

[ii] “Ozal Forms Government December” Facts on File ( World News Digest 16, 1983, p. 945; Sam Cohen, “Turkey's Soon-to-be Leader: Cyprus can still Become Unified Nation,” Christian Science Monitor, November 30, 1983, p. 9.

[iii] Marvine Howe, “Greek Cypriots are Worried but Expect no Drastic Steps”, The New York Times, November 18, 1983, p.10.

[iv] “Radio Bayrak” in Turkish 1530 gmt 16 Nov 83, “TRNC's Call for Recognition, Source”, BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, November 18, 1983.

[v] “Allaghi, Greece: Socialism in one country--a survey; Survey”, The Economist, July 3, 1982, p3.  

[vi] “100,000 Greek Cypriots Protest Turkish State”, U.P.I., November 21, 1983. However, few months later, a huge rally occurred in Thessaloniki (northern Greece) attended by 400,000 thousand people but in the context of scheduled European elections and not specifically targeting Turkey. Andriana Ierodiakonou, “Papandreou Rejects Talks to End Row with Turkey”, Financial Times, May 8, 1984, p. 2.

[vii] Marvine Howe, “Greek Cypriots are Worried but Expect no Drastic Steps”, The New York Times, November 18, 1983, p.10.