The Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier: Cyprus Dispute Explained

The Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier: Cyprus Dispute Explained

This is the island of Cyprus. This small island
in the Mediterranean is probably most well
known as a popular tourist destination, with
its white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters.
But the island has a somewhat troubled past,
and even present as well. Politically, the
island is split between the Republic of Cyprus,
a member of the UN and the EU, and Northern
Cyprus, a self-declared Turkish republic,
recognised only by Turkey itself, viewed as
occupied territory by the rest of the international
The island of Cyprus is politically, ethnically,
and physically split through the middle due
its troubled past. A United Nations peacekeeping
force has been operating in Cyprus for more
than 50 years, with barriers separating the
two communities that once shared the island.
So why is an island that would seem so tranquil…
so divided? How exactly did it end up like
Well, the island became like this due to the
dramatic events of 1974, but we need to look
a bit further back in the island’s history
to fully understand of the context behind
these events.
In 1571, the island was conquered by the Ottoman
Empire, and for the first time in thousands
of years, the island’s demographics were
changed, from a predominantly Greek population,
to a Greek majority with a significant Turkish
Cyprus was part of the Ottoman Empire for
centuries. Treatment of the Greek Cypriots
varied significantly during this time, and
there were numerous uprisings against Ottoman
rule. The Greeks and the Turks rarely lived
together in harmony.
In the 1820s, Greece (also under Ottoman rule)
fought a successful war for independence.
The Cypriots revolted at the same time but
their revolt was crushed by the Ottomans.
In the year 1878, Cyprus came under British
administration in secret treaty with the Ottomans,
in which the British would protect their territorial
sovereignty from Russia, while securing themselves
a strategic position to defend their trade
routes to India through the Suez Canal. The
Ottomans maintained sovereignty over the island,
but it was placed under British administration.
In WWI however, the British and Ottoman Empires
found themselves on opposing sides, and so
the island was annexed by Great Britain.
Now ever since the independence of Greece,
the vast majority of Greek-Cypriots had been
calling for what’s known as “enosis”
– union with Greece.
After WWII, it became increasingly difficult
for Great Britain to morally justify their
extensive empire. All of their colonies that
had fought alongside them to fight for the
freedom of the world, now wanted freedom for
themselves. The British Empire did of course
go through an extensive period of decolonisation,
but with Cyprus, there was a problem.
The island has been described as an “unsinkable
aircraft carrier”, and geographically speaking,
it was just too valuable to give up. From
Cyprus, the Royal Air Force could reach three
different continents with ease. Cyprus is
just 100 miles from the Middle East, and the
Suez Canal is just 200 nautical miles to the
Now, while the Greek majority of Cyprus often
rebelled against British rule, the Turkish
minority were… relatively content with it.
The Turkish-Cypriots absolutely did not want
In the first decade after the second world
war, the British tried to offer Cyprus self-government,
without actually giving up any sovereignty.
In 1950, a man who would become known in Cyprus
as the “Father of the Nation” was elected
as its leader – Archbishop Makarios III.
Of course, this didn’t satisfy the Greek-Cypriots,
and the desire for enosis grew stronger…
and more violent. In 1955, a nationalist guerrilla
organisation, called EOKA, was formed to end
British rule in Cyprus, with the ultimate
goal being union with Greece. The main figurehead
behind the enosis campaign was Colonel George
Grivas, a Cyprus-born WWII veteran of the
Greek Army.
In the late 1950’s, the British declared
a state of emergency on the island of Cyprus
as the anti-colonial violence escalated. In
1958, a rival organisation in opposition to
EOKA was formed, the TMT, or the Turkish Resistance
Organisation, formed by the Turkish-Cypriot
minority. Their ultimate goal was the partition
of the island, or “taksim”. The two communities
generally lived in quite segregated neighbourhoods,
and the Turkish minority of Cyprus wanted
the island to be politically divided.
So the Greeks of Cyprus wanted to join Greece,
and the Turks wanted to partition the island.
In the end, they got what nobody wanted: independence.
The president of the republic was to be Greek,
and the vice president Turkish. The president
was Archbishop Makarios… who was actually
exiled to the Seychelles in 1957 for his promotion
of enosis, but was allowed to return.
The Republic of Cyprus became a country in
1960, but it wasn’t really a fully independent
country. Three other countries still had a
huge say in what went on on the island, the
three ‘guarantors’ of Cyprus that signed
the very treaties that gave the country its
independence: Greece, Turkey, and the United
Kingdom. Also they didn’t even have control
of the whole island, the British held onto
the land around their military bases. The
treaties of Cypriot independence banned the
country from entering into a union with another
country (i.e. no enosis), and each of the
three guarantors had the right to intervene
in Cypriot affairs to maintain the status
In 1963, president Makarios made a number
of proposals for constitutional changes, ostensibly
due to governmental dysfunction, that would
remove many of the rights of the Turkish minority.
This led to an eruption of ethnic violence
between the Greeks and the Turks. Many of
the hardliner EOKA sought to rid the island
of “undesirables”, i.e. the Turks. The
violence peaked in December in what became
known as “Bloody Christmas”, in which
there were hundreds of casualties on both
sides. Thousands of Turkish-Cypriots were
run out of their villages, with many leaving
the island altogether, and hundreds more were
taken hostage.
In 1964, a UN resolution was passed to deploy
a peacekeeping force to Cyprus, as the island
was on the brink of an all-out civil war,
or worse still… potential war between two
NATO members, Greece and Turkey. Despite the
UN force, the violence did not stop. The two
communities had to be physically separated
in the nation’s capital city, Nicosia, as
British soldiers erected barriers.
Now at this point I’d like to pause for
a second to mention another country that was
heavily involved in the Cyprus dispute throughout
the 60s and 70s, just… not publicly. The
United States was very much involved in Cypriot
affairs, the CIA operated extensively throughout
the island, and the US would often try to
covertly ‘pull the strings’ to get their
desired outcome.
Since it was becoming obvious that the 1960
solution was not working, London and Washington
secretly agreed that a potential way to solve
the impasse would be partition of the island.
They began to develop a back-up plan to encourage
Turkey to invade Cyprus and take control of
a pre-liniated portion of the island. The
invasion didn’t happen… at least, not
But this begs the question… why? Why would
the UK and US want to partition the island?
Well, this was the 1960s, the height of the
Cold War. Having a strong Turkish presence
on the island would at least prevent the country
of Cyprus from falling into the Soviet zone
of influence. The Cypriot president had already
caused some controversy by making some connections
with Eastern Bloc nations.
Having an ally of the Soviets so close to
NATO’s southern flank would have been disastrous,
especially for Turkey, but for NATO as a whole
too. Turkey was an extremely important ally
of the US, they were quite literally the border
between east and west.
In 1967, the Greek government was taken over
by a far-right military junta in a coup d’état,
ousting the democratically elected prime minister.
Now, the president of Cyprus had been a strong
advocate of enosis, but he certainly didn’t
want a union with a military dictatorship
in Athens. This caused massive disagreements
between himself and George Grivas, still leading
the fight for enosis.
Over the next few years, Makarios would be
the target of five assassination attempts,
as the Greek-Cypriot hardliners tried to overthrow
his leadership, as he was unwilling to pursue
union with Greece.
In 1974, Cypriot Intelligence discovered a
plan to overthrow the President. This time
though, it wasn’t from the Greek-Cypriots,
but from Athens. Yet another military junta
had taken over in a counter-coup, and now
they had their eyes set on Cyprus. The coup
was successfully carried out by the Cyprus
National Guard.
With the help of the RAF, Archbishop Makarios
was flown to London for his safety. He was
replaced by Nikos Sampson, former member of
an EOKA execution squad, who fought against
British rule in the 1950s.
The United States were quietly content that
Makarios was out of the picture due to his,
somewhat tenuous, links to communism. It was
later revealed that the CIA was well aware
of the plot to overthrow the government, but
nothing was done to stop it.
Turkey was understandably furious with the
coup, and made clear their invention to invade
Cyprus. Turkey cited Article 4 of the Treaty
of Guarantee, which states that “each of
the three guaranteeing Powers reserves the
right to take action with the sole aim of
re-establishing the state of affairs created
by the present Treaty”.
5 days after the coup, Turkish troops landed
in Cyprus. The initial invasion only lasted
2 days, as an emergency UN Security Council
meeting called for a ceasefire. Turkey had
captured about 3% of Cypriot territory. Both
military dictatorships, in Cyprus and in Greece,
fell apart due to the invasion. Sampson resigned
just 3 days after the invasion began.
Mediation talks in Geneva between the three
guarantor powers tried to solve the situation
diplomatically, and avoid any further casualties,
but the talks became deadlocked.
Now at this point, the international community
and public opinion were largely sympathetic
towards Turkey and the Turkish-Cypriots. The
Cypriot government had been taken over by
a coup with the intention of joining with
Greece against the will of the Turkish minority.
However, from 14th of August onwards, things
quickly changed. Turkey launched its second
invasion of Cyprus – Operation Attila Two.
This time, it was a full-scale invasion against
a much weaker opponent. The fatality numbers
reached into the thousands, and about 200,000
Greek Cypriots were forced to abandon their
homes. Several Turkish-Cypriot community villages
were raided by the Greek-Cypriot extremist
organisation EOKA-B as a response to the invasion,
with more than 200 civilian casualties in
the first day of the invasion.
By the end of the invasion, Turkey had taken
control of about 37% of the island of Cyprus.
This territory made up approximately 70% of
the total gross domestic product of the Republic
of Cyprus.
General sympathy and understanding swifty
turned to almost universal condemnation. The
Treaty of Guarantee gave Turkey the right
to intervene in Cyprus, but the treaty was
made for the purpose of guaranteeing the independence,
territorial integrity, and security of Cyprus…
but in the end, Turkey did the exact opposite.
They forcibly took control of a large portion
of the island, causing a de facto partition
of the country.
When looking at how Cyprus became divided,
one can’t help but wonder… how was this
allowed to happen? How was a NATO member allowed
to launch a full-scale invasion against another
sovereign state? Greece demanded to know why
no action was taken to stop Turkey. Realistically
the only country that would have been able
to stop the invasion was the United States,
but the man who was single-handedly in charge
of US foreign policy with regards to Cyprus,
Henry Kissinger, chose not to intervene. In
fact, it was quite the opposite: he encouraged
the invasion.
There had been talks of the British pulling
out of Cyprus altogether in a round of defense
cuts, and Kissinger was worried about having
absolutely no NATO presence on the island.
Turkey occupying a large part of the island
would ensure a NATO presence, and prevent
Cyprus from falling into the Soviet sphere
of influence, so Kissinger was happy to let
the invasion run its course.
After the conflict was over, the UN organised
the transfer of 51,000 Turkish-Cypriots from
the south to the north, as the island became
ethnically split. In addition, Turkey proceeded
to encourage thousands of Turkish citizens
from Anatolia to settle in northern Cyprus,
despite this being in direct violation of
article 49 of the Geneva Convention.
In 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern
Cyprus was proclaimed, and has received absolutely
no international recognition expect from Turkey
In many ways, Cyprus is a victim of its own
geography. Its violent past was partly caused
by the island’s strategic position in the
world of geopolitics. Of course, the underlying
reason for the violence was the inter-ethnic
conflict between the Greeks and the Turks
of the island, but this was often willfully
ignored or even exacerbated by the West if
it were in NATO’s best interest.
Even to this day there are tens of thousands
of Cypriots still hopeful that some day they
will be able to return to their homes from
which they were displaced. Cyprus joined the
EU as a divided island in 2004, three decades
after the invasion, and many were hopeful
that this would help solve the dispute. In
the same year there had been a referendum
on a plan to reunite Cyprus which ultimately
failed, however there does seem to be a genuine
desire among Cypriot citizens to solve the
dispute once and for all. It’s hard to predict
what will happen next, only time will tell
what the future holds for Cyprus.
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100 thoughts on “The Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier: Cyprus Dispute Explained”

  1. In this video I look at the controversial topic of the Cyprus dispute, an island split between the Republic of Cyprus and the unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, physically separated by a United Nations peacekeeping force, that has been operating for more than half a century.

    The island was temporarily divided between the Greek and Turkish communities in 1964 due to inter-ethnic violence, and the divide became more permanent in 1974 when Turkey invaded Cyprus, responding to a coup by the Cyprus National Guard (organised by the Greek military junta in Athens)

    I also look at how Cyprus' strategic position in the world of geopolitics often exacerbated the already existing tension on the island, as NATO used Cyprus as a military base to keep Soviet influence at bay.

    I tried to be as impartial as possible, let's try to keep the comment section civil!

    A huge thank you to the Associated Press for allowing me use of their fantastic archive content:

    Don't forget to check out today's sponsor, Squarespace, as they continue their amazing support of this channel! Get a 14 day free trial, and when you sign-up you can get 10% off your first purchase using the offer code WONDERWHY:

  2. 🇬🇷🇬🇷🇬🇷🇬🇷🇬🇷🇬🇷CYPRUS IS GREECE 🇬🇷🇬🇷🇬🇷🇬🇷🇬🇷🇬🇷🇬🇷 war begins

  3. What kind of dialect do you speak man? It is so horrible to understand. Get rid of your mother tongue from English.

  4. You know ENOSIS but you don't know MASSACRE in cyprus to TURKS. Invasion is if the invader invades just for colonialism like Europe to Africa, England to Australia and NewZealand, or England to India. These are invasions. What Turkiye did was to rescue the Turks in cyprus from greeks.

  5. WonderWhy You talk about unilateral prejudiced events. Turkey has intervened on an accord by the guarantor states. Turkey has long fostered a United island. But efforts has always turned void due to Enosis desire of the Greek Cypriot Government and their assassination organization, EOKA-B. They never wanted a room to live for Turkish Cypriots.

    You are talking about non-truth happenings. For instance in Bloody Christmas only the Turkish side suffered losses. And it was always the Turkish side to suffer losses up until Turkish intervention in 1974. There had always been military oppression against the unarmed Turks by the Greeks and the British. In the bloody Christmas a Turkish family was slaughtered with their two small kids. You never talk about these.

    If there had been no Turkish intervention to Cyprus today there would have been no Turk living on the island. Moreover this intervention prevented bloodshed greeks to kill each other for the control of power in the island. Our intervention has been a peace act for both parties. And south Cyprus government unlawfully acts as the sole representative of the island although it is not.

    Currently Turkey is 25 fold powerful than it had been in 1974. Therefore no matter how we may have some in-house political issues we have the practice to unite as a rock on terns of national issues.

    There is also one point, which I suppose you are deliberately trying to stress on is that the greeks are the only indigenous folks of the island. They arrived around 1400 BC. The real indigenous people arrived in the island around 10.000 B.C. The Turks (non Muslim) had also been on the island around 1000 BC.


  7. The narrator falsly start the history of the island 447 years back while Cyprus has a history of more than 2,400 years! Starting from the Ottomans taking the island is biased. The country and nation is it's people and they've been Greek from way back.

  8. The US and the UK only care about oil and money. They don’t care if innocent people get slaughtered and raped!

  9. Turkey might buy the stealth FC-31 with PL-15 BVRAAM (200 miles range) for both unsinkable aircraft carriers.

  10. In order for Turkey to be able to reestablish the old Cyprus state, the Greek core part of it must have been stabilized but as you described the Greek part was going through a coup d'etat and was managed by fascist movements. Both sides sat on the table and discussed that after the first intervention but obviously the talks didn't help to reestablish the former order and mitigate the risks towards the Turkish minority so the second intervention became inevitable.

  11. i recommend you to watch

    cyprus is dependent island. they can't survive by itself from the begining. even fresh water has to come from turkey or greece. so there is almost no economical reason to invade cyprus.
    turkey also didn't need cyprus to use as aircraft carrier. only reason turkey invaded cyprus is saving turks in island. greek side never accepted freedom of turks in island they just tried to protect old goverment which is clearly didn't prtected turks before. also usa didn't let turkey to do it. after the invation usa used embargo on turkey. which was led to worst economical disaster in turkey. whole turkey suffered it for at least 10 years.

  12. I support Turkish Cypriot coz they were first inhabitants and they were persecuted many times by Greek Cypriots

  13. Glory to the lions of first greek special forces battalion and the commander lutenel colonel papameletiou who defend the airport qnd the city of nikosia and to the 300 heroes of greek force of cyprus (ELDYK) who defend the camp of eldyk against turkish force of 2500 and 54 tanks air force strikes and actillery for three days ….we will never forget …..

  14. In my opinion the logic solution would be a federal state sharing equally political power in Cyprus…

  15. For at least a decade before Turkey invaded, Greek Cypriots committed massacres and murders of Turkish Cypriots – unpunished.
    Cypriot newspaper Daily Politis uncovered this –

  16. If EOKA members had not start a massacre agains Turks at the island,Turkey would not be needed to start a peace operation at the
    Greeks tried to invade the island and Turkey stoped them.Thats all.
    An BBC interview with Turkish President of that time :

  17. we took the island from venecians not from greeks…. WHY DO YOU NOT TALK ABOUT THE GENOCIDE GREEKS TRIED TO COMMIT AGAINS THE TURKISH MINORITY… the greeks explicitly announced several time that they would cleanse the island from turks and they tried to do and why do you not talk about the fact that before turks came greece had already sent about 50 thousand soldiers to island….. we came later to slay yhe greek vandalism and cruelty… these are the facts.. another fact about the greeks that they can never fight in an equal war, they can only kill children and women and that is what they always do…

  18. THE FACT is that turkey did it operation secretly and faced ambargo. moreover, because greek majortiy committed genocide against the turkish minority they have no right to have a nation there.. do you award the killers and rapists in your contry…. let the isis then have an independant state in uk…. your video is just a big lie includinh bacis truths…

  19. TURKS 🇹🇷 are The Big BOSS ! You FIGHT like a Little bitch 🇮🇱🇬🇷🇬🇧 we Beat You Every Time Look the History

  20. In 2004 the Referandum was voted and Greek Cypriots said "NO" to the peace by %80+ and Turkish Cypriots voted "YES" by %67. Still to this day, Greek Cypriots are allergic to minorities, equal rights etc.. basically all the common principles of EU and the modern world itself. It really is amazing after 40 years of time, they still have the same sick ideologies.

  21. During the Crusades the Kingdom of Cyprus never fell to the Muslims. It is very important for the Christian world to control because it can keep Muslims out of the eastern Mediterranean. If Cyprus falls, Crete falls, then Greece, then Europe.

  22. A day will come when utter death and destruction will be the norms on the streets of US and the UK and the world would gradually realise justice has been done.

  23. Enosis😁😁😁

    Greeks are lucky..Democracy arrived in Greece thanks to Turkey saving Turks from genocide in the island.

  24. 8:29 random guy in suit marches past. They'll obviously be looking for the military uniforms not that suit

  25. Disgusting, so for their american and british sick paranoia, people must die? I wish this guy, kissinger was killed by a Greek Cypriot, this is a war against humanity to encourage a nation to fight another for for the sake of having a nato presence, and even that turkey is not that powerful they just lucky to have many strategic importance,once again, turkey is getting away with its crime. While they are the tool of the west, like a remoted controleld toy. Everyone knew turkey can't have peace, yet they still risked the lives of many. They didn't act against the invasion, but of dear against the Enosis

  26. 5:56 thank you Sampson without you nothings happen, although you killed tens of Turks, because of you there is no single drop of blood last 45 year

  27. So interesting every time people tent to paint Turkey as the boggy man, what were they suppose to do roll ever and play death ???? Leave the island to the Greeks??? Pls look watch UK did to India, to Pakistan,to Egypt, to Palestine…. that's horrible….!!!! U should be honest when u report abt historical facts!!! Shame on u!!!!!!

  28. When you see the name of this ( backstabbing, sneaky, little jew-weazel ) Henry Kissinger, you know war is already being planned. He should be hanged a long time ago and the world would be a bit better place. I just hope he will drop down before we invent mind uploading to a computer. We wouldn't want to have a maschine with Kissinger virus, do we!

  29. Henry Kissinger is a war criminal. I blessed him, so that 2019-2020 to be his fnal year. I will go piss on his grave one day.

  30. Turkish cyprus and greece cyprus both different cultures and religions.They try live each other and doesn't work.Its very hard live

  31. Maybe someone thought having Turkey in Cyprus was good for NATO. Now it is bad. Turkey hints at leaving NATO. Having them there is a strategic error. Always weaken the big players. Now Turkey is too big to deal with. The so called "unsinkable aircraft carrier" is now occupied by an opponent. And they aren't going anywhere without the use of force. Greece has shown to be weak for so long, a simple satellite. No will or strength to deal with anything. This video indirectly hints at a concept: cultural segregation as a tool for peace.

  32. Here's a good documentary regarding the 1974 LIBERATION of Cyprus…

  33. Both countries are shit and should be out of Nato. The Greeks being Orthodox love Russia more than Nato. The Turks are more friendly to the Russians than to Nato.

  34. I recognize Turkish Northern Cypress If Greece didn’t start any $hit there wouldn’t have been any $hit then you wouldn’t be crying about the current situation

  35. Greek bandits killed many turkish civilian cypriots between 1960-1974
    Since turkish peace operation in 1974 cyprus has been a peacefull island.

  36. Peace keeping my Az, this are preasures to stay, and take the Island in a political way, if not, then a coup will put a government apropiate into the Elite taste and laws of the "Nato invaders" team. UN is not a peace keeping force, but a puppet group to hold the prey untill Masters dominate the prey. Communism is only a sticker. Not a political force that endanger any issue. Democracy brings more lies.

  37. The Turkish residents of that Island are settlers and turkey be damn they need to go back to turkey because the island is the home to Greek Cypriots only. I always find it laughable that turkey tries to act as in moral objector or third-party character when it comes to the Israelis and the Palestinians even though the exact thing that they object to in Israel is exactly what they have done to the people of Cyprus.

  38. Nobody talk the truth! The Greks that time pull away Makarios. The right side of Greeks want to take control of all Ciprus. Normaly , this happends and all Greeks politicians of that time retread. They are responsibel for all chaos they made , and Turkish react.

  39. you have to explain the history objectively, you are distinctly supporting the Greek side.Whatever you do,you can't change the truth.What you are gonna do will bring more death.You didn't talk about massacre made by EOKA and soldiers of Greek-side.Cyprus was not invaded,you didn't give any chance to Turkey.

  40. Please don’t speak unnecessary. Because Turkish Republic never ever leave north Cyprus. Turkish republic all ways powerful on west cyprus. I love Turkish parent.

  41. This video is not objective, ofcourse it is made by who has greek view.. if Turks did what greeks did, you made this video with this title, “Turks did genocide so greeks invaded cyprus”.. But thanks God it is not happend. God bless Turks..

  42. Why blame the brits? Greeks hate the Turks and treats them disgustingly, brits should stay and so should the Turkish army , we should build a bloody 50 foot wall and forget they the Greeks exist.

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