Forty Years Ago Today - Internal Tensions
Forty years ago today, on January 2nd 1970, President Makarios made a statement just before he left on state visits to East Africa.
His words come to us from a press release from the time, and evoke the tense atmosphere of the era. Internal Cypriot militant groups had formed in the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities and were fighting sporadically, with as much violence turned within the groups as between them.
"I am not happy because, even for a few days, I will be outside Cyprus during a period of some internal anomaly, created by the terrorist activity of unlawful organizations. Nevertheless, I deemed it advisable not to call off the scheduled visits because to cancel them would have provoked internationally comments at the expense of Cyprus as regards our so called internal front. I hope there will be no further incidents undermining internationally Cyprus' prestige and harming the Greek Cypriots irreparably from the national and other points of view," said Makarios.
His trip was to take him through East Africa and and Greece, where he met King Constantine and briefed the Greek government on progress on the Cyprus question.
"God willing, I will return to Cyprus on January 18th," he said.
A few months later, in the context of simmering internal hostilities, Makarios' helicopter was shot down. Authorities at the time suspected EOKA B militants and former minister of the interior Polykarpos Georkajis.
Source: Press and Information Office