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Shadows of the coup and the 1974 invasion. Parastate armed groups and the political crisis
in the defense of the Republic of Cyprus


This paper focuses on the impact of military and paramilitary structures of the defense strategy of Cyprus in the period before the Turkish invasion in 1974. It focuses on how internal political differences and ideological polarisation affected the organisation and performance of the island’s defense forces. In addition, it analyses the structure and role of the state and paramilitary armed forces, in light of the internal conflicts and strong interaction with the island’s political life.

The intervention highlights how the Turkish Cypriot enclaves, as elements of fragmentation, have negatively affected the unification of the defense space, creating serious obstacles to the elaboration of a unified defense plan. Paramilitary armed groups, such as EOKA-B, are identified as critical factors of instability, exploiting the existing leadership and coordination gap to expand their influence, both militarily and politically.

The analysis highlights the inability of the Cypriot political and military leadership to organise a coherent and coordinated defense response, especially after the coup of 15 July. The coup significantly aggravated the disorder in the field of military organisation and coordination, adding an additional layer of uncertainty and mistrust between the different armed formations. The presence of Greek officers in the Cypriot armed forces, which could have acted as a unifying factor, to the contrary, caused further confusion due to the different strategic objectives between Athens and Nicosia.

In addition, the presentation examines the impact of the prevalent presence of Turkish Cypriot armed groups, which caused significant problems in defense planning and the implementation of a homogeneous defense plan. Internal differences and the lack of coordination between the different armed groups had a crucial impact on Cyprus’ ability to deal with the invader effectively.

The inability to unify the armed forces, combined with long-standing political divisions and hostility between different armed groups, contributed decisively to the final defense failure during the Turkish invasion.

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