Their attempt failed due to Turkish opposition, but some 6,000 tourists were caught up between the two sides and had to be evacuated under an escort of both U. N. and British troops, in a makeshift convoy of more than 500 private cars and trucks as well as armored cars. Some 4,400 foreign nationals from Nicosia were escorted to Dhekelia and the British base there. Meanwhile in mainland Greece the already unpopular junta was seen by Greeks to have allowed Turkey to humiliate the Greek people. There were repercussions elsewhere.
Syria put its army on full alert, while Egypt ordered its ships to stay in harbor. Regional controllers for airlines flying over the Mediterranean are based on Cyprus, so air travel was chaotic while the fighting went on. Only El Al continued to provide full services, but even they had to fly extra mile sin order to avoid the island.
Both tourists and business people throughout the near and middle east were stranded, just one example of the wider repercussions in the short term of this long term situation 5 days earlier President Makarios had been forced to flee. The report tells how he intended at first to escape into countryside around his home town of Paphos where he lived as a young shepherd. But then, “I decided I could serve my people better if I went abroad to rally international support against the Greek junta. ” He had escaped, though some 30 people had been killed and about 200 wounded in the battle before he did so. He traveled in borrowed clothing to New York, with British aid.
Once there he pleaded with United Nations Security Council, but before they could act or major powers intervened, the Turks made their astonishing invasion move. Both Greek and Turkish governments on the mainland, sworn enemies from ancient times, had in the months immediate prior to the coup seen a further downturn in their relationship because of a dispute over a large discovery of offshore oil in the Aegean Sea, The oil find was situated in an area where the sea areas of the two countries meet, and so causing arguments about ownership.
Turkey has indicated her willingness to enter into arbitration, but Greece had refused the offer. The two countries rushed army personnel towards their 90-mile mutual border, which runs along the River Evros. A general mobilization was ordered by both governments, creating a threat of mainland war. This could even have escalated into war between super powers as Moscow felt the need to alert its airborne divisions as a show of saber rattling and strength.
Both the Soviet Mediterranean fleet and the Sixth Fleet of the United States of America sent combat vessels enroute to the island. American Secretary of State at the time, Henry Kissinger denied however that any clash between super powers was likely and explained that such naval movements were normal, though in the United Nations, despite early opposition by the Soviet Union, The Security Council unanimously approved a call for both an immediate cease fire and negotiations, a call Turkey chose to ignore.
The two sides were both NATO members, but NATO intervention as a mediation body proved to be ineffective. Britain, which along with Greece and Turkey, was a guarantor of the island’s sovereignty under the Zurich treaty of 1960, and so acted as an intercessor. On its part America sent its Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Joseph J. Sisco. His chances of producing a successful solution were slim, however, because America remained apparently undecided as to its diplomatic and political position in the crisis as it involved, not one but two of its allies.
The 2,188 strong United Nations, peace keeping force, stationed there since 1964, found that a cease-fire was impossible to fully implement because not only were the newly landed Turkish forces fighting Cypriots who were loyal to Greece, but also both Greek and Turkish Cypriots were taking advantage of the upheaval the invasion had caused as an excuse to restart fighting each other. The newly appointed Greek Cypriot leader, often described as a terrorist, Nikos Sampson, made a television appearance in order to declare his pride in the fighting spirit of Cypriot soldiers.
He is quoted as yelling, “The Turkish enemy must be driven into the sea! ” Sampson, previously editor of the Nicosia newspaper ‘Makhi’ (Struggle), which had one of the largest circulations on the island, was also notorious as being one of some two dozen powerful right-wing “warlords” who organized regular raids on Turkish villages. A British officer is quoted as describing him as “a thug and killer, pure and simple. ” Even the prisons were emptied of men capable of fighting including the 1,200 policemen, supporters of exiled former president Makarios, who had been imprisoned been after Sampson’s successful coup.