Political Science Essay

Summary: This is a 9-page paper on Political Science. The paper is in MLA format and has 9 sources. The paper discusses the situation in Cyprus during the period of 1950s until the crisis of 1963 – 1964, the policy/outlook of the Greek, Greek-Cypriots, Turkish, Turkish-Cypriots, British, US, USSR through the viewpoint of the school of thought of Realism.

[Name of Writer]


The Cyprus Question Through the Viewpoint of Realism


            The Cyprus dispute is one of longest remaining disputes in the modern history. The unique history of Cyprus and its demographic distribution has led to the complications and unsolved questions, which still loom and hinder to a completely peaceful solution of the problem. The major players in the Cyprus dispute are the United Kingdom, Turkey, Greece, The United States, The Soviet Union and Greek and Turkish Cypriots. This paper will discuss the Cyprus dispute in context of the International Relations’ Theory of Realism.

Historical Background:

            After the World War II the United Kingdom offered the Cypriots greater self-government but was rejected by the Greek Cypriots in favor of “Enosis” or union with Greece. Perceiving this momentum of the Greek Cypriots as an opportunity a Cypriot serving in the Greek Army started a campaign for enosis. He established a military organization EOKA, bombed public building and killed both British and Greek Cypriot opponents of enosis.  All the proposals by the British were rejected and the attacks continued. This compelled the British to take harsh security measures against the campaign and many notable Greek Cypriots were either imprisoned or exiled. Since the attacks were not limited to the British or Greek Cypriots but were also aimed to the Turkish Cypriots, this alarmed them and compelled them to demand the British either retrocession to Turkey or partition.[1]

            This further escalated tension between Greece and Turkey as both the Greeks and Turkish people rallied in favor of their respective Greek and Turkish kin. In 1959 Turkey and Greece reached an agreement during a dialogue in Zurich. According to the agreement, which the British, Greek and Turkish Cypriots also accepted, Cyprus will become a sovereign nation and the British will maintain sovereignty over their military bases. The new country will not participate in any political or economic union. The United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey will provide guarantee of the independence of Cyprus. Both the Greeks and Turks got the veto power. Cyprus became a republic in 1960 after the elections. But the issues regarding local government and finance compelled Makarios to propose 13 amendments in the constitution, which were rejected by both the Turkish government and Turkish Cypriots. This deadlock result in fighting between the two communities and Nicosia was practically divided between them, while the British forces patrolling along the dividing line. In 1964 Turkish air force intervened after intense fighting in the northern part of the island. As a result both Greece and Turkey sent troops not only to control the areas held by their respective communities in order to train the local forces of the two communities. [2]

The Role of The British:

            The British were the primary player in the Cyprus crisis before and after the World War II. Since Cyprus was ruled by the Ottomans prior to the British occupation and the British considered the island as an important strategic place in the Mediterranean and they perceived the Ottomans as a threat. The proximity of Cyprus to Turkey also increased its strategic importance. Thus speaking in term of realism the British were not only acting for their survival against the Ottoman threat, but they were also consolidating their position in the Mediterranean region, by establishing permanent British bases on the island. But since the Greek Cypriots were under the impression that the British will finally provide them the opportunity to unite with Greek motherland and they were disappointed by the British behavior the situation in the island worsen.

            The British key interest had been to perpetuate its military presence on the island at any cost. That’s the primary reason that the British initially refused any idea of enosis. But after the World War II the British were too weak to hold off the entire island. But they also don’t want to give up their sovereign military bases, so the British manipulated Greece and Turkey in such a manner that they not only get involved in the dispute but also came to an agreement. Both the Greek and Turkish Cypriots approved the agreement and the British won permanent sovereignty of their military bases.

            The British policy is clearly explicit of the three S’s of realism i.e. statism, survival and self-help. [3] Statism is explicit in the British policy as the British intended to involve the sovereign states rather than dealing with the rivaling communities themselves. Though later their consent was pursued, when Greece and Turkey both reached to the agreement. Thus in this manner the British leadership showed their realist approach by disregarding any non-state actor during the crisis. Speaking about the second “S” i.e. survival, as the British intentions to keep their military presence on the island was to check the Ottoman threat during the World War I, in the post World War II scenario their major concern was to limit the Soviet influence in the region at all cost. In this way the British sought to secure “The Balance of Power. [4]

            The realist approach of survival was completely behind the British support of the Turkish Cypriots, because they do not wanted to give the Greek Cypriots, led by Makarios, a free hand, neither they would approve enosis at any cost, because all these situations will practically endanger their military presence in the island. That’s the primary reason that the British tried their best to ensure the status quo and leave the things as they are.[5] The only other option for the British is to support enosis or double enosis as both Greece and Turkey are close allies to the British and their bases will remain intact in this scenario.[6] In this way the British were defending themselves in the sense that they want to keep the enemy as far away from the their homeland as possible. Thus the third “S” of realism i.e. “self-help” was also active there. Since there is no other way to keep the balance of power unless a self-help system is established, the British have to act in order to pursue it and achieve it, primarily because of the anarchic nature of international politics and self-priorities and interests of other nations.[7]

The US Policy Outlook:

            The United States policy towards the Cyprus disputes is primarily based on to protect the US facilities on the island as well as to keep the USSR and UAR away from the island. Since both enosis and double enosis options are favorable for the United States as they increase the likelihood of remaining the US facilities intact on the island the United States wanted to support any of these options. Unfortunately enosis for favored by the Greeks, while the double enosis was strongly apposed. The Turks on the other hand have opposite view of the two solutions. This had led the United States to a dilemma regarding her ties with the two allies. The United States wanted a solution which is favorable for her interests, but not on the price of its relations with either Greece or Turkey. Thus the United States wanted a hybrid solution in which both the rivaling communities are satisfied.[8]

            Speaking in context of Realism, the United States policy clearly exhibits the three core functions of the realist approach. Statism lies in the United States policy to deal with the Greece and Turkey rather than both Cypriot communities directly. Survival is the primary core of the US policy here as the main concern of the United States is to perpetuate her presence and confine the Soviet and UAR influence in the region. Self-help lies in the dilemma of the US that it has to pressurize her close allies, both Greece and Turkey in order to reach a favorable solution. In this context the US approach and policy is clearly a realist approach and policy.

Policy Outlook of Turkey:

            Turkey had an old rivalry with the Greeks since Greece had won independence from Turkey in the early 19th century. Since then there have been several disputes between these two neighbors, like the Aegean and Thrace issues etc. Moreover since Turkey had ruled Cyprus for more than 3 centuries until she finally conceded the island to the British in 1878. Thus Turkey had always been eager to get Cyprus back or as much of it possible. The presence of the Turkish Cypriot community and their strong opposition to the Greek Cypriots enosis solution gave the Turkish an opportunity to get a part of Cyprus by double enosis. Moreover Turkey does not want to completely give up the Turkish presence in the island at any cost. Turkey does not want Greece to get the entire island, neither she wants Makarios to get sovereign status because of his close ties with Soviet Union. On the contrary Turkey wanted to maintain the status quo as much longer as possible and eventually win some part of Cyprus. Thus when the status quo was disturb by a coup, led by Grivas and supported by Greece, the Turks intervene and invaded the island.[9]

            The Turkish policy is also clearly based on the Realist approach. Turkey regards the whole dispute as a power game between Greece, USSR and herself. Thus statism is a major part of her policy. Moreover Turkey does not want to concede any part of Turkish presence in the island and if it is threatened she did not hesitated to intervene directly and invade the island. This policy depicts the element of survival. Moreover Turkey had been giving the Turkish Cypriots military and financial aid beforehand in order to keep them standing on their position. This policy refers to self-help, as Turkey did not want to risk the position of Turk Cypriots at all cost.

Policy Outlook of Greece:

            Since the Greeks consist of 80% of the population of Cyprus, Greece had always considered Cyprus as her own province. Thus it was natural for Greece to support the demand of enosis of the Greek Cypriots. Moreover Greece does not want to loose a bit of Cypriot land to Turkey her old rival, neither Greece will tolerate a sovereign state of Cyprus led by Makarios, who has close ties with the Soviets. Regardless of Greece’s desire of annexing Cyprus she had played low during the dispute, partly because of the active involvement of the British and the United States in the dispute whom she considered as close allies and partly because Greece did not want to provoke Turkey to intervene directly in the region. Moreover Greece always regarded the creation of the republic of Cyprus as a temporary solution and hoped that one day it will be united with her. Because of this understanding of the situation, secretly Greece had been providing the Greek Cypriots military and financial support and finally the Greeks tried to oust Makarios whom they never trusted. Though this attempt of coup led to what Greece had feared previously, i.e. the Turkish invasion of the island.[10]

            When analyzing the Greek policy in the context of Realism, it is evident that the Greeks policy is based on statism and survival as well as self-help. Greece firmly believed in enosis, thus disapproving any sovereignty given to Cyprus. This policy exhibits statism. Moreover it also speaks of survival, as Greece did not wish to give absolute power to Makarios, because of his support among the communists and his ties with the USSR. Moreover Greece also tried to support the Greek Cypriots and also supported a coup against Makarios. This exhibits self-help.

Policy Outlook of the USSR:

            The Soviet Union’s perception of the dispute is of both opportunities and dangers. The Soviet perceives the dispute as a golden chance to eliminate the NATO presence on the island. The elimination of British sovereign bases and US facilities will increase Soviet influence in the Middle East as it will limit the NATO operational ability in the region. The increasing frustration among the Greek Cypriots regarding the British policies in the dispute had made them strongly against their military presence; the same is the opinion regarding the American facilities. In order to pursue this goal the USSR provided full support to Makarios. But on the contrary the Soviets does not want Makarios to support the idea of enosis, which he is not in the position to withdraw from. On the contrary the USSR seeks an independent Greek Cyprus where Makarios is the head of the state. In this scenario it is most likely that Makarios will call for British and US withdrawal from the island thus giving the Soviets a free reign in the region.[11]

            The Soviet policy is also a display of realist approach. The Soviets acted on the basis of increasing their influence in the Mediterranean and eliminating their enemy’s presence in the Levant. This policy of promoting Makarios was based on survival, as it would eventually lead to the withdrawal of the British and US forces from the island, thus eliminating threat to the Soviet interests in the region. Moreover Statism lies in Soviet policy to convert Cyprus in a sovereign state rather than becoming a province of Greece or divided between Greece and Turkey.

Policy Outlook of Greek Cypriots:

            The leadership of Greek Cypriots consisted archbishop Makarios and George Grivas, a Greek army officer native to Cyprus. Both Makarios and Grivas agreed on enosis, but they had their differences on the way they want to achieve this goal. Grivas believed on Military struggle and established his guerilla organization EOKA in order to drive out opponents of the enosis.[12] Makarios on the contrary believed on political struggle.[13] These differences led to permanent hostility between the two leaders. Regardless of this the Greek Cypriot leadership was united on the question of enosis and nobody even Makarios could withdraw his position on this issue. But the solution on which both Greece and Turkey agreed, gave them no choice but to accept it. They hoped that in this way they can finally achieve enosis and regarded it as a temporary solution.

            In the context of realism the Greek Cypriots are using realist approach regarding survival and self-help. They want their position stronger by uniting with their mother country and in order to achieve this objective they are doing what ever they can do, from guerilla warfare to political struggle.

Policy Outlook of Turkish Cypriots:

            The Turkish Cypriots were in the weakest position, primarily because they were in a minority and also because they do not have much able leadership as the Greek Cypriots enjoyed. The Turkish Cypriots believed that they have been living in Cyprus for more than 3 centuries and they have as much right of self-government as the Greek Cypriots have thus they do not want to concede the entire island to Greeks at any cost. Therefore they supported double enosis i.e. partition of the island and annexation of both Greek and Turkish parts to their respective mother countries. But because their position was weak and leadership not that able they were completely subservient to the Turkish government.[14]

            The Turkish Cypriots policy refers to both statism and survival. Statism in the sense that they completely relied on a sovereign state to achieve their goal, while survival in this sense that they rejected any proposal, which would threaten their position and status in the island.


            The overall analysis of the policies of the involved actors in the dispute clearly exhibits the realist approach, thus proves that realism is clearly the most dominant theory in international politics and relations.

[1] “Cyprus.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Student and Home Edition.  Chicago:

Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009.
[2] “Cyprus.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Student and Home Edition.  Chicago:

Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009.
[3] Baylis, John, Smith, Steve, Owens, Patricia. “The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to

International Relations 4th Edition”. Oxford University Press. 2008. pg. 93. ISBN: 978-0-19-929777-1
[4] Baylis, John, Smith, Steve, Owens, Patricia. “The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to

International Relations 4th Edition”. Oxford University Press. 2008. pg. 94. ISBN: 978-0-19-929777-1
[5] “Bitter Breakdown” Time Magazine. November 10, 1958.

[6] “The Cyprus Dispute” Central Intelligence Agency. 1964. <http://www.foia.cia.gov/browse_docs_full.asp>
[7] Baylis, John, Smith, Steve, Owens, Patricia. “The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to

International Relations 4th Edition”. Oxford University Press. 2008. pg. 102. ISBN: 978-0-19-929777-1
[8] “The Cyprus Dispute” Central Intelligence Agency. 1964. <http://www.foia.cia.gov/browse_docs_full.asp>
[9] “Cyprus.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Student and Home Edition.  Chicago:

Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009.
[10] “Cyprus.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica 2009 Student and Home Edition.  Chicago:

Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009.
[11] “The Cyprus Dispute” Central Intelligence Agency. 1964. <http://www.foia.cia.gov/browse_docs_full.asp>
[12] “Gen George Grivas (Obituaries)”. The Times Digital Archive: pp. pg. 14; Issue 59000; col E. January 29,

[13] “Archbishop Makarios – Central figure in the struggle for an independent Cyprus”. Obituaries (The Times):

pp. pg. 14; Issue 60073; col D. August 4, 1977 <http://infotrac.galegroup.com/itw/infomark/248/27/34155532w16/purl=rc1_TTDA_0_CS237076740&dyn=46!bmk_1_0_CS237076740&hst_1?sw_aep=qmu_ttda>
[14] “The Cyprus Dispute” Central Intelligence Agency. 1964. <http://www.foia.cia.gov/browse_docs_full.asp>