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Media Watch 2005

07 January 2005
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author:
Comment: The following article appeared in Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 7 January 2005.
Britain and Greece wanted Makarios off the island
"Participants in the July 23, 1974 talks - just three days after invading Turkish troops landed on Kyrenia’s shores - commonly agreed that it was best for Archbishop Makarios to leave the island."

THE British and Greek governments wanted Archbishop Makarios off the island in the aftermath of the 1974 Turkish invasion and had considered offering him the leadership of the Commonwealth as consolation, the declassified documents revealed.

According to British government documents released on New Year’s Day, talks between Britain’s then Prime Minister Harold Wilson, his Foreign Secretary James Callaghan and King Constantine revolved around Makarios’s future.

Participants in the July 23, 1974 talks - just three days after invading Turkish troops landed on Kyrenia’s shores - commonly agreed that it was best for Archbishop Makarios to leave the island to avoid fanning political instability.

Wilson had said that if the Archbishop were to return to Cyprus, he would remain President for a limited period only and stand down after Presidential elections.

But Callaghan said even if Makarios was persuaded to stand down - which was considered doubtful - his mere presence on the island could precipitate instability.

"Mr Callaghan thought that even if the Archbishop could be persuaded to stand down...and Mr (Glafcos) Clerides were to be elected, the continuing presence of the Archbishop in Cyprus would pose a threat to political stability," the documents said.

Unlikely
King Constantine said the "only possible solution" for Makarios to leave the island was to offer him the post of Metropolitan of Athens. But Wilson suggested pitching to Makarios the leadership of the Commonwealth.

"The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary suggested that the best solution would be if the Archbishop could be persuaded to leave the island…The King said that the only possible solution might be for Makarios to become Metropolitan of Athens...The Prime Minister could not think of any international post suitable for the Archbishop except perhaps the Secretary-Generalship of the Commonwealth," said the documents.

The Greek King also revealed that Makarios had in 1966 asked him to speak to Egyptian President Nasser about the possibility of his election as Patriarch of Alexandria, a post to which he wished to retire.

"The King said he was willing to do this and indeed saw much advantage in it but shortly before he had been due to meet President Nasser the Archbishop had asked him not to raise it after all," said the documents."