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|Archbishop Makarios III
first President of the Republic of Cyprus
Mihail Christodolou Mouskos was born in Ano Panaya, Cyprus, on August 13, 1913. Educated at the Kykkos Monastery, the Pancyprian Gymnasium, and the universities of Athens and Boston, he entered a monastery at the age of 13, was elected Bishop of Kitium in 1948, and Archbishop and Ethnarch of Greek Cypriots in 1950.
Throughout most of the 1950's, Makarios was a leader of the Greek Cypriot movement for independence from Great Britain, as well as for enosis (union) with Greece. In 1956, he was exiled to the Seychelles Islands after being charged with encouraging terrorism. He was released from the Seychelles in 1957, but was not allowed to return to Cyprus. By 1958 he was pressing for complete independence rather than enosis. He was fully released from exile on February 24, 1959, and returned to Cyprus on March 1.
Archbishop Makarios upon his return
to Cyprus from exile
When Britain granted Cyprus independence in 1959, it installed Makarios as the first President of the new republic. He was subsequently re-elected in 1965, 1968, and 1973.
As President, Makarios favored a peaceful solution between the island's Greek and Turkish communities, a position that surprisingly made him some enemies. By 1972, the military government in Greece was pressuring Makarios to allow greater Greek influence in Cypriot affairs, and the Cypriot Orthodox Church was calling for his resignation if he refused Greece's advances. When Makarios refused anyway, Greece sent General George Grivas to wage a terrorist campaign aimed at overthrowing Makarios. On July 15, 1974, Cypriot troops led by Greek officers forced Makarios from office and proclaimed establishment of "The Hellenic Republic of Cyprus." Although Makarios was forced to flee the country in advance of the troops, his voice was soon heard on radio telling people he was alive and that they should resist the coup. On July 19 he addressed the United Nations Security Council and accused the Greek military government of both sponsoring the coup and of supplying men and weapons. In response, Turkey invaded Cyprus, fulfilling its obligation to protect Turkish Cypriots under the Treaty of Guarantee, which had been signed earlier that same year. Turkey's invasion precipitated the fall of the military government in Greece, which in turn precipitated the end of the coup in Cyprus. Makarios returned to Cyprus in December, and continued to serve as its President until his death, which came on August 3, 1977.
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This page was last updated on December 26, 2017.