The decade opened with great optimism and, in 1960, Nicosia became the capital of an independent Cyprus, with the Greek Cypriots leading a power-sharing government with the Turkish Cypriots.
As per the Treaty of Guarantee, troops from mainland Greece and Turkey would form National Contingents based in Cyprus..........950 Greek and 650 Turk.
Cyprus was entitled to an army of 2000 men, to be made up of 60% Greek and 40% Turkish personnel but, in December 1963, had yet to be fully established.
The constitution (written mostly by representatives from Greek & Turkey with the aid of an academic lawyer from Switzerland) has been described as "unique in its tortuous complexity" and very soon disputes began to arise between the two communities.
The newspaper headline on Tuesday the 16th August 1960
Repeated attempts to solve the disputes failed and matters came to a head when, on the 30th November 1963, Makarios proposed thirteen amendments to be considered immediately by the leaders of the Turkish Cypriot community.
The 13 amendents proposed by President Makarios (PDF in a new window)
The implications of the amendments (PDF in a new window)
This year is a veritable "historical minefield" but it is necessary to have some understanding of the events that brought the two communities into conflict, saw Turkish fighter jets in the skies above Nicosia and the beginning of the UN's longest peacekeeping operation.
This famous illusion......do you see an old woman or a young girl.......sums up the difficulties with this period.
Different communities see things differently as the Cyprus Mail wrote in December 2013
"The dominant narrative on the Greek Cypriot side has been that in 1963 the Turkish Cypriots mounted an insurrection, effectively seceding/withdrawing from the Republic which they sought to undermine.
The Turkish Cypriot official narrative holds that the Greeks, the majority, never regarded them as equal partners and provoked the conflict by attempting to scrap the 1960 Constitution: they were the victims reacting to the violence initiated by the Greeks."
You can read the full article by clicking this link (opens in a new window)
Whatever the "truth", the period beginning December 1963 was one that saw significant intercommunal violence breaking out all across the island resulting in significant movements of population. A large number of mainly Turkish Cypriot villages (and villagers) coalesced into a reduced number of fortified enclaves run by the community’s political leaders and the number of abandoned villages grew. Seventy four mixed villages were evacuated and twenty four wholly Turkish villages were abandoned.
The Turkish Cypriot enclaves in 1964
The resulting Turkish enclaves occupied less than 3% of Cyprus’s total land area but held almost 18% of the island's population.
Much of the detail in the following pages comes from the Alpha (Operations) Log compiled by Col John Sale who was the Defence Advisor at the British High Commission in Nicosia. Additional material is courtesy of Michael Perritt-Young (Intelligence Officer) who compiled a document outlining the first eight weeks following the creation of the Truce Force. Many of the unique photographs are courtesy of Christopher Meynell (ADC to General Young).
Without this invaluable material, the events of December 1963 - March 1964 could not have been described with the same detail.