|Makarios III - Cypriot Political Leader|
While studying in Athens during World War II, Makarios lived under the Nazi occupation. After the Allies liberated Greece, Makarios traveled to Boston to further his theological studies. In 1948, while in the United States, Makarios was elected bishop of Kitium, Cyprus.
Shortly upon his return to Cyprus, Makarios became involved in the Cypriot enosis movement for a union with Greece, and in 1950 he was elected archbishop of Cyprus. His association with EOKA (National Organization of Cypriot Fighters), an underground organization that focused its attention on freeing the island from British colonial rule, caused Makarios to be exiled to the Seychelles by the British, who charged him with encouraging acts of terrorism.
One year later he was allowed to return to Cyprus; when the British withdrew, Makarios was elected the first president of Cyprus. With his new outlook on the independent nation of Cyprus, Makarios distanced himself from the enosis movement. He attended the Belgrade Conference of the Heads of State of Non-Aligned Countries; his political position made him a target for the supporters of enosis.
In 1965, when his term of office was to expire, the Cypriot people extended his term to 1968. In 1968 and 1973 he won reelection. Makarios was heavily pressured by the Greek government to increase Greek influence on Cypriot politics. Athens had been under the control of a military junta, which disliked Makarios and his reluctance to push for enosis.
|Statue of Makarios III|
Makarios replied to the Greek Junta in the form of a letter demanding that the remaining Greek National Guard stationed in Cyprus be withdrawn. He also accused the junta of plotting against his life and against Cyprus. Thirteen days later, the junta ordered the Greek National Guard in Cyprus to overthrow Makarios and take control of the island. Makarios survived the attempted coup and escaped to England.
The coup caused permanent damage in Cyprus by giving Turkey a pretext for a Turkish invasion that split the island in two, separating the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities. After a brief exile, Makarios returned to Cyprus in December 1974 to resume his presidency until his death in 1977.