Portrait of an archbishop at war
Makarios III has been a dark presence in some of the bloodiest headlines of the last decade. On his decisions, largely, turn the issues of a greater war or a lasting peace in the Mediterranean — and the fate of the Canadian contingent there. Here is the man up close
TOWARD THE END of one of the most recent weeks of crisis in the eastern Mediterranean I was granted an interview with the dramatic, tall, black-bearded man whose likeness a nervous world has learned to recognize — and revere, revile, respect or fear — almost as easily as it recognizes the pudgy figure of Nikita Khrushchov.
The bitter struggle between the forces represented by Archbishop Makarios III, president of the Republic of Cyprus, and his former colleague, Vice-President Fazil Kutchuk, had reached a new intensity. There had been another round of murders in the explosive and apparently hopeless stalemate between the Greek-Cypriot majority and the Turkish-Cypriot minority. The United Nations political mediator was in a state verging on despair and the United Nations military commander, totally defeated, was about to refuse to extend his three-month term of service. At the eye of the cyclone the soldiers of the Canadian Royal 22e Regiment and the Royal Canadian Dragoons sat in the Kyrenia mountains trying to keep Makarios’ and Kutchuk's armies from crossing the thinning line between a war of incidents and a war of extermination. Almost every night Greek villagers on the northern coast heard, or thought they heard, invading ships from mainland Turkey preparing to come ashore and liberate the Cyprus Turks. Four hundred miles away the government of mainland Greece made it clear that if Turkey attacked Cyprus, Greece would counterattack. A sergeant of the Royal Air Force was caught smuggling mortars to the Turkish Cypriots
from a British military base, adding to a wave of anti-British feeling that had already brought back memories and some of the feelings of the ugly EOKA killings of the 1950s. Across the eight-hundred-year-old walls of Nicosia, Makarios and Kutchuk were trading official charges, official denunciations, indictments, threats and bills of particulars, prepared and spontaneous hymns of hate, almost every hour on the hour.
Before I caught a plane back to Canada — and simply because after two trips here and two visits with Makarios and one with Kutchuk this tragic situation seemed so impossible of understanding or explanation — I asked Makarios the deliberately innocent question of a high-school reporter.
"What do you really think of Dr. Kutchuk?”
Makarios took a moment and then his famous Byzantine smile parted the familiar long dark beard and he smiled over his dark and slightly hooded eyes. "Kutchuk?” he smiled. "Oh, he's not so bad.”
It is a measure of Makarios’ labyrinthine nature and the slippery footing beneath him that when I repeated this remark, separately, to four parties to the conflict in Cyprus, their responses could have been lifted straight from The Blind Men and the Elephant. A Greek civil servant said it demonstrated Makarios' Christian charity and simple compassion. A Turkish press official attributed it to Makarios’ boundless cynicism and a British artillery officer to his treachery and hypocrisy. A Canadian staff officer, who had only been in Cyprus for six weeks, muttered that it was useless to try
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Makarios demanded sympathy for Cyprus. In Nicosia, his hoods were gunning down the British
figuring anything here, least of all old Black Mak.
Almost certainly all of them were partly right. Although his complex duties as chief of state make it impossible for him to discharge more than a fraction of his normal duties as primate of the oldest of all the Greek Orthodox churches, Makarios is unquestionably a devout man and, on the rare occasions when he can afford that dangerous luxury, a good man. He is also a tricky man, a shrewd man, a conniving man, a cunning man, sometimes a lying man. And the paradox is less in Makarios than in the thirty centuries — and within this century the ten years — that have shaped his island's struggle for self-determination. Throughout his adult life Makarios has been in open or concealed collision with tricky men from Greece, shrewd men from Turkey, conniving eaYijfrom Britain, cunning men inside Thé'4Island ^ pOiitics-ridden church, lying men within its church-ridden politics. Against the pressures with which every Cypriot leader has had to contend since the time of Alexander the Great, it has been extremely difficult for a man of unblemished soul or flawless character to stay alive, much less to obtain or hold a position of influence. St. Paul was flogged when he arrived at the Cypriot port of Salamis hearing the holy gospel.
It is only on the simplest biographical facts that there is much agreement about His Beatitude, Archbishop Makarios III. He was born Michael Christodoulou Mouskos fifty-one years ago this August 13. His father was a shepherd and their village was only a lazy day’s stroll from the legendary birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite. He was educated in Nicosia and Athens, where he spent the German occupation during the Second World War studying theology and law. 'I he name he chose on entering the priesthood means Blessed. He studied for more than a year at the University of Boston on a postgraduate scholarship and in 1948, while he was still at Boston, he was elected bishop ot Kitium, one of the four sees on the island. Less than two years later the reigning archbishop died and Makarios, still only thirty-seven, was elected to succeed him.
Makarios soon became the rallying point in the struggle for liberation Irom the British, who had ruled for the lurks since 1878 and for themselves since 1914. The British were certain that he was giving active support as well as moral encouragement to the bands ol terrorists who called themselves EOKA (hthniki Organosis Kvprion Agoniston: in translation,
National Organization of Cypriot Combatants). In March 1956 they exiled Makarios to the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean. A year later he was released from exile on condition that he would not return to Cyprus.
While the shadowy young hoods
of EOKA continued to gun down British soldiers — and not infrequently women and children — in the streets of Nicosia, Makarios did a skilful job of drumming up sympathyoutside. At last the three main stakeholders in the sorry little island. Britain, Greece and Turkey, decided they'd had enough. The British were sick of fighting the Cypriots (at one time fewer than five hundred members of the official EOKA guerilla force were holding down a British
military force of thirty thousand). Greece and Turkey were siek of the perpetual threat that the Turkish fifth and the Greek four fifths of the population would end up in a civil war, thus dragging their "mother'' countries into a war of their own. So without bothering to invite any Cypriot the three nations met in Zurich in 1959. drafted an agreement and summoned Makarios to London to ratify it.
The agreement formed the basis of a constitution under which Cyprus
became an independent republic within the British commonwealth. The key to the constitution was a series of provisions guaranteeing sweeping rights of veto and self-government to the Turkish minority. Makarios objected. but when the British foreign secretary, Selwvn Lloyd, told him to take it or leave it he took it. The republic limped along with its impossible constitution until last November, when Makarios announced he was bringing
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down thirteen amendments, in effect wiping the constitution out. The Turks were justifiably furious and perhaps less justifiably scared, and it was on that note that the shooting started.
After eight months no one, least of all Makarios himself, is predicting where and when it will end. “I don’t think our problems will be solved on an agreed basis," he said when 1 met him last. "Mutual consent is always a desirable thing. But when it cannot be obtained then it is necessary to turn to other solutions."
Here he was skirting — and barely skirting — one of the many questions that trouble all the main owners, creators and trustees of this growing cache of dynamite. Is Makarios under increased pressure from extremists
— both of the left and the right — to move more aggressively against the Turks? Neither the Ankara Turks nor the Cypriot Turks will admit publicly that this is an aspect of the situation that concerns them, for to do so would be to admit that Makarios possesses an element of restraint, is something less than the headlong tyrant their propaganda has painted him. But the suspicion that Makarios may not be the ultimate villain after all does arise w ith growing frequency among the Turks as well as among the outsiders who are caught in the quarrel.
In the long run it may turn out that the greatest pressure on Makarios
— assuming he and the island don't go up first in some hideous vest-pocket Armageddon — is on the left. For years the communists have been the strongest single force in Cyprus labor and even their enemies admit they've been a constructive and moderate one. They are equally strong in municipal politics: four of the largest cities have communist mayors. In the 1960 general election the communist-supported Democratic Union Party got half as many votes as Makarios' Patriotic Front. The Greek Cypriots' outside cheering section against the BritishAmerican “imperialists" and the NATO “warmongers" has been led by Khrushchov and if the Greek Cypriots are not by now receiving arms from Russia it seems inevitable that they soon will be. Even before the current conflict started Makarios had. if not one whole foot, at least a gingerly toe behind the iron curtain. The Cypriot national airline has a weekly flight to East Berlin by way of Yugoslavia. Since 1962 Polish construction crews have been enlarging the harbor at Famagusta.
A member of the diplomatic corps assesses Makarios' position with and against the communists in this way: “The Russians wouldn't fight a w'ar over Cuba and Castro, an avowed communist. They certainly won’t fight over Cyprus and Makarios, who says he's anticommunist. Nevertheless Makarios is using the Russians and the Russians are using him. He’s raising hell with NATO and he’s threatening to make the British get out. For the time being that seems to be all the Russians want of him. But sooner or later they always want more and sooner or later they’ll want more here.”
Makarios enjoys or tolerates or exploits much the same kind of relationship — part alliance, part deferred hostilities — with the forces on his right. The right has no leader, no or-
ganization. no common purpose except that it wants faster and more militant action — specifically and particularly against the Turks and the British. But for all its lack of cohesion. the right includes some of the most picturesque and influential men on Cyprus. Only one of them even distantly approaches Makarios in stature, prestige or ability, and that is the fierce and fabulous old guerrilla king. General George Grivas. After the end of the EOKA war Makarios and Grivas had a celebrated and violent break. Early last spring Makarios made a special trip to Athens to go through the motions of healing it. Nothing came of this but some of the Archbishop’s most expert dissembling. Nevertheless the “spirit of Grivas,” which is the urge to go gunning for the nearest RAF or British Army uniform. is higher today than at any time since 1959.
Makarios’ oldest and most implacable enemy. Bishop Kyprianos of Kyrenia, has been forced by failing health to retire a little from their fifteen years of ecclesiastical and political warfare. In theory the election of an archbishop in the Orthodox Church of Cyprus is completely democratic — the members elect a U. S.style electoral college and the electoral college elects the primate. But a good deal of manoeuvring goes on and in the election of 1950 it is commonly conceded that the young Makarios gave the seasoned Kyprianos not only a beating but a humiliating lesson. Kyprianos has been attacking the archbishop ever since — sometimes directly and sometimes by heavy inference — as a pacifist and appeaser. During the early stages of the EOKA struggles. before he was exiled along with his archbishop, Kyprianos’ exhortations to his congregation included the declaration that “Isolated incidents like the throwing of a bomb or the killing of (one British constable) are not enough." He reminded them: “Kenya will get its freedom because Mau Mau kills people. The English soldiers are leaving Egypt because every day the Arabs are killing them."
How England silenced Makarios
Today the bishop of Kyrenia is less outspoken but there has been no reconciliation with Makarios. When I visited his second palace in the remote mountain town of Morphu he would not talk to me directly about Makarios but a spokesman said the bishop considered Makarios was neglecting his duty to the church and the sooner he got out of politics the better it would be for the church and for the government both. Makarios' own most pungent comment about the bishop, hitherto unreported, has been preserved by an RAF officer who was present when the archbishop and his fellow divine were hustled off together aboard the British transport that carried them into exile. This act of quasi-legal kidnapping, Makarios protested, was intolerable. And the most intolerable part of all, he said, looking across the aisle toward his simmering archenemy, was “the prospect of several years of the enforced company of the bishop of Kyrenia.”
A much more uncertain position
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is that of Polykarpos Yeorkadjis who, as minister of the interior, commands all the armed forces of Greek Cyprus. One of the most celebrated of all the EOKA leaders, Yeorkadjis was captured three times and escaped three times, once from an ordinary jail, once from the vast and brooding old Crusader castle at Kyrenia, once from a Nicosia hospital. In the latter incident he and a rescue squad fought their way past a heavily armed guard, and four men died in the process. When the amnesty was declared Yeorkadjis was still in hiding, under sentence of life imprisonment; he emerged in triumph to enscroll his nickname, Houdini, in the island's pantheon of heroes.
Perhaps it is mainly because of his past record that so many people suspect — though none has quite been able to prove — that Makarios' minister for war is crowding the archbishop for faster and firmer action against the Turkish Cypriot “rebels," even at the risk of intervention from mainland Turkey. There is some circumstantial evidence in support of the theory. One otherwise dull day last spring Yeorkadjis personally took charge of a Greek battle group and led a brisk attack against one of the disputed mountain peaks. It was Yeorkadjis who made the public announcement in April that Makarios was flying to Athens to persuade the old EOKA commander-in-chief, Grivas, to take charge of the Greek Cypriot forces. It is widely believed that Yeorkadjis was the prime mover when the government introduced conscription in June.
Neither of the principals in this perhaps imaginary contest for custody of the republic's trigger finger will say much about it. Yeorkadjis refused to discuss the matter with me or even to answer written questions. Although for the most part Makarios chatted freely and informally and with surprising candor during the two talks I had with him, I was asked to put my questions about his minister of the interior in writing. This is the transcript;
Q: As you know there is a widespread belief in the rest of the world that some sort of struggle is going on in Cyprus between the so-called extremists and the so-called moderates. You arc said to be a moderate and Mr. Yeorkadjis is said to be an extremist and it is said that stronger resistance against the British and stronger measures against the Turkish Cypriots arc being urged and indeed forced on you. Have you any comment on this? Makarios: The great tolerance and patience of the government toward the Turkish attitude has caused a certain amount of discontent to a section of the Greek people of Cyprus. We cannot talk, however, of any sort of struggle between extremists and moderates and less so of any difference between myself and the minister of the interior.
In the long run it may turn out that none of the dignitaries — neither the aging general, the aging bishop nor the impatient young cabinet minister — will be the one to challenge the archbishop most critically for the control of his own followers. Nicos Sampson, the twenty-nine-year-old
EOKA veteran who has become the island's leading newspaper publisher — his daily Makhi (Struggle) has a circulation of thirty-five thousand, twice that of its closest rival — has no personal political ambitions as yet or if he has they remain unacknowledged. He does have ideas, none of them especially conducive to peace. The first time I saw him, in the directors' room of the Nicosia racetrack, he spoke favorably of Washington and Lincoln and unfavorably of the Turks and British. The last time I saw him. in his elegant air-conditioned publisher's office, he spoke favorably of John F. Kennedy — who he said ought to he proclaimed forthwith a saint — and he spoke still more unfavorably of the Turks and British.
One of the things we talked about was whether there was still any chance of a non-violent solution — perhaps a general ceasefire, an amnesty and a new attempt to write a constitution with the help of countries less ridden by prejudice and self-interest than Greece. Turkey and Britain proved to be at the Zurich and London conferences.
The word he bridled at was amnesty. "I am entirely opposed to amnesty." he said indignantly. I asked if it wasn't correct that while serving a life sentence in a British prison he had been released by the amnesty that preceded the birth of the republic. "It was not amnesty," he said scornfully. “The British never granted amnesty to me nor to any EOKA man. They released us because they had to. They released us because we licked them. We licked them in a war and they surrendered. We will lick them again. As for those Turk mutineers and terrorists it is ridiculous to talk of amnesty for them. They must pay the price of their crimes and they will pay!” All over Cyprus young and youngish Greeks are talking like Nicos Sampson, although only Sampson can talk to the whole island every morning.
Up to now, the men closest to the archbishop have succeeded at least partly in counteracting the influence of the fire-eaters. Makarios’ heir ap-
parent is Clafkos derides who has the respect of most of the cabinet, most of the Greek community and some considerable proportion of the army, possibly including that of the army's political head. Yeorkadjis.
As president of the House of Representatives. derides is deputy president of Cyprus. He is a son of the late John derides, who ran in opposition to Makarios in the 1960 election. Clafkos, who still reveres his father's memory, fought against him in the election because "the Zurich agreement — which both my father and I opposed — was just so had that I felt there should he no disagreement over it when we took it to the people: our greatest need then was for a common front, a united Cyprus. My father's stand was that the Zurich agreement was the archbishop's fault. My stand was that the archbishop had no alternative."
derides, an RAF pilot during the Battle of Britain and a law graduate of Gray's Inn Court, says that today he is neither pro-British nor antiBritish ("I separate the British people from the policy of their government: I admire their justice as it is applied in Britain hut not as it is applied in the colonies").
As for the immediate domestic crisis, derides says: "1 don't believe anyone in his right mind thinks this thing can or should he settled by one thunderous attack against the Turks. I remember many incidents inside and outside the cabinet when Polykarpos Yeorkadjis, our alleged warmonger, has himself ordered ceasefires along the Green Line or in the mountains. I don't think there will he any solution, certainly no political solution, within a year. Nevertheless we can't live forever with the status quo. We can't go on indefinitely with the UN holding the Turks and Greeks immobile and all our life half paralyzed."
derides believes the archbishop's most earnest wish is to retire from the presidency and devote his full time to the immense affairs of the church which, leaving matters of the spirit aside, is by far the richest institution on the island. But he, Clerides,
does not want the presidency, he says. "I have good personal reasons for wanting to get out of politics."
Makarios says his own personal dream is to sec an honorable and if possible bloodless settlement to the political dilemmas here and then to hand the presidency to someone else. He won't say who that might be.
His expressed views — which his detractors insist bear scant relation to his real views, much less to his actions — can be utterly disarming.
"Personally, 1 feel the philosophy of unity — the goal of one world — is the right one, the one to which we all must ultimately strive. But it must be remembered that independence and world government are not the same thing. An independent Cyprus, 1 believe, would gladly enter into true world government, and to do so it would perhaps voluntarily surrender some part of its independence. But first we must have our independence, we must have the full right of selfdetermination which we do not have
and never had. 1 believe in time we'll have less religious fanaticism and less nationalist fanaticism all over the world than we have today; this will never be achieved while large groups of people continue to force their wills on smaller groups of people.
"In Cyprus there exists religious tolerance and the present crisis is in no way connected with religious motives. In any case, both as head of a church and as a man, I feel deeply sorry that in the hearts of many people love has been replaced by hatred.
"The United Nations is the only organization on which humanity bases its hopes for the solution of international problems and the prevalence and maintenance of world peace. It is true that in certain special cases the United Nations have not been successful. This, however, does not affect their great importance and the constructive role they play in international disputes.
"I do not want to put blame on the British troops in Cyprus. 1 think, how-
ever, that they have committed tactical errors which had harmful consequences and the people believe that their participation in the peace-keeping force of the United Nations is not constructive ...”
Shuttling constantly in his long black Cadillac between the palace of the archbishop and the palace of the president, the strange and complex shepherd's son Michael Christodoulou Mouskos cannot himself be sure which will be his final stopping place. Whereever it should prove to be, history will not be able to ignore his passing. The verdict almost certainly will be as mixed as the times and circumstances in which Michael Mouskos has sought to keep his country and himself in being and in possession of their own uncertain fates. Here — perhaps the verdict will be — went one of his generation's most various and elusive men: guileful, deceptive, stubborn,
tough and crafty, and as he said one morning of another man in a similar predicament, really “not so bad.” ★