Cyprus, 1963-64: a new conceptual framework for chaotic security structures and momentous phases in polity‐building
Kaoullas, Lambros George
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My work explores the development of the security and defence structures of the Cypriot state in the turbulent post-colonial years 1959-65. After a series of political imbroglios, exacerbated by the involution of external actors in the internal affairs of the nascent bicommunal Republic of Cyprus (established in 1960, preceded by a Greek Cypriot national-liberation revolution), the constitutional arrangement between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots collapsed. In the 1959-63 period, new bicommunal institutions are set, and the creation of these institutions is characterised by political arbitrariness and power rivalries. I term this process “structural flux” and during this time a “security deficit” for the Greek Cypriots developed out of fear of Turkish partition plans for the island. The crisis culminated violently in 1963-64 and the political, legal, and institutional rearrangements of that crucial period left a lasting effect. Through interaction between scholarly literature and the emerging data of the Greek Cypriot case-study, the thesis develops a novel theoretical framework to analyse conflict situations in new states, or states-in-transition, and understand societal feelings of security and insecurity. In particular, the thesis analyses how the Greek Cypriots responded to threats coming from the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey, the first in the form of wide-scale violent disturbances on the island, and the second in the form of threats for an invasion, termed “sociological” and “geopolitical security deficit” respectively. I then proceed to explain how the Greek Cypriot elites reacted to this threat with the limited resources available and in a relatively short period of time, mustering support from thousands of volunteers amongst the wider population. The study then zooms in on the crucial months between November 1963 and August 1964 when, incapable to counter the threat otherwise, and after the dissolution of the bicommunal government, a constellation of disparate Greek Cypriot forces took over both the internal security and the external defence of the now Greek-controlled Republic of Cyprus. It consisted of citizen paramilitary formations, known as omádhes, usually headed by ex-revolutionaries, officers of the defunct Cyprus Army, policemen, and gendarmes. The monocommunally-controlled state armed citizen volunteers in a process I call the “communalisation of the monopoly of violence”. I have termed this hastily built, largely unplanned model, with a significant overlap and blurring between military, police, and paramilitary roles, as “chaotic security structure”. The social origins of these forces, rooted in the small, agrarian Greek Cypriot society are also explored, as well as their complex institutional intertwining, which was mired with the often conflictual and unstable political and personal relationships between their members. The final parts of the thesis analyse the consolidation of this “chaotic security structure”, the “decommunalisation” of the monopoly of violence and its contribution to polity-building. The end of the events signalled the creation of a new professional military force, wholly Greek Cypriot in composition, the National Guard, on the chaotic infrastructure of the past, the amalgamation of the Police and the Gendarmerie into one force, the clear demarcation between police and military roles, and the dissolution of the paramilitary formations. Considering the lack of formal structures in relation to the events, and the limited existence of documents, I employed a methodological approach blending semi-structured interviews and documentary analysis. Overall, the thesis makes a theoretical contribution to the understanding of post-colonial civil-police and civil-military relations, with a keen interest on the recruitment of new police and military personnel out of former revolutionaries as well as a particular focus on paramilitarism and the cultural factors that contribute to its emergence, including phenomena such as volunteerism and vigilantism. It uses the Greek Cypriot community in 1963-64 Cyprus as a case-study to understand momentous phases in polity-building such as the transitional periods between a violent crisis and the return to peaceful normality.