The slogan "Grivas is back" has been echoing round Cyprus during the last week, as it has periodically for the last two decades.
The slogan "Grivas is back" has been echoing round Cyprus during the last week, as it has periodically for the last two decades. Rumour has it that the legendary Greek resistance fighter has slipped back into the island after escaping surveillance in Athens. And rumour is enough to bring the tension back to the Greek-Turkish confrontation on the island. Already his supporters believe he is organising a coupe to take control in Cyprus.
In this library compilation, we trace something of the Grivas legend as it evolved through the turbulent recent history of Cyprus. For his single-minded pursuit of the cause of ENOSIS (Union with Greece) has won him the kind of support that could still be dangerous to President Makarios's government -- especially at this moment when tension is running high anyway after the virtual breakdown in the three-year-old talks between Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. The presence of the 77-year-old General would introduce an unsettling element into an already unstable and complex situation.
SYNOPSIS: General George Grivas, the legendary Greek-Cypriot who has fought Britons, Turks, Greeks, Italians, Germans and Cypriots through the years, is reported to be back in Cyprus after escaping police surveillance in Athens. The 77-year-old General - seen here in 1967 with Archbishop Makarios just before his expulsion from Cyprus - is still dedicate to the ideal of a Cyprus united with Greece - an ideal for which he has fought several nations. With tension again brewing at a dangerous level between the Greek and Turkish communities on the island, the General's presence could be the final spark - a spark which could set the island on fire.
It was his fight to expel the British from Cyprus which created the myth around the man. Between 1955 and 1959 he led the underground EOKA independence campaign, and eluded British troops for four years in a grim game of hide-and-seek in the mountains and villages of Cyprus. He was never captured, and in 1959 Cyprus received it independence - but Grivas refused to recognise the agreement, saying he had never been consulted. He continued fighting, openly at times and secretly at others, in an effort to have Cyprus united with Greece.
The Cyprus-born General has enjoyed some popular support through the years, but his one failure was in the field of politics. During the Second World War he led a powerful resistance group during the occupation of Greece. The group became political after the war, and Grivas made several attempts to get into parliament through the next 15 years - all of which failed.
Since independence, Cyprus has been a divided nation. The larger Greek community has lived in constant tension and often in open warfare with the Turkish sector. General Grivas, meanwhile, returned to Cyprus after independence in 1959 and became Commander-in-Chief of the Greek-Cypriot forces there in 1964. But his handling of the partisan battles between the two communities led to bitter accusations of brutality by the Turkish Government. Civil war almost came to Cyprus, but a last-minute agreement between Greece and Turkey averted the disaster. But, as one of the conditions of the 1976 agreement, General Grivas was withdrawn under pressure from Turkey. The Greek Government ordered him back to Cyprus. He lived in obscurity until April this year, when he unexpectedly appeared at an EOKA anniversary rally and told the crowd that union with Greece was the only answer to the still continuing tension in Cyprus. Early this month he disappeared from his Athens home, eluded police surveillance, and is now reported to be back in Cyprus - a problem for archbishop Makarios and the U.N. peacekeeping force in their efforts to reconcile current tensions. The presence of the General would only aggravate an already tense and complex issue.