Cyprus – Getting it Wrong | Martin Packard MBE

First published 12/8/2009

Martin Packard MBE explains his family and personal background as well as his motivation in providing a first hand historical record of how he came to be posted to assist General Sir Peter Young in a peacekeeping role on the island of Cyprus during January 1964, following the outbreak of intercommunal violence between the Greek and Turkish speaking communities on the island at Christmas 1963.

Martin Packard:

“From the outset let me say that I’m a very passionate believer that am appalling injustice has been done to Cyprus and to all Cypriots. I don’t believe that is just something recent. I think that right from my time, and knowledge of Cyprus, going back into the 50’s the island’s been treated in the most appalling way that would not be tolerated in any other society.

“On the other hand I’m not a great believer in conspiracy theories. I think that there was a general mind-set at the time when I became intimately involved in Cypriot affairs in 1964. There was a general mind-set among NATO powers that whatever else happened, the governance of Cyprus must not be left ultimately in to the Cypriots. There was a variety of reasons for that, but it was generally accepted. So, the injustice came from this general ‘attitude’ first of all of the NATO powers. It came from the manner in which covert and intelligence operations were conducted in the region, and I’ll talk a little bit more about that later, particularly through the stay-behind and the GWD and the sheepskin organisations, which meant that extreemists within both communities were being armed through NATO and given special training in assassination and disinformation. And it is expressed as well, this injustice, in the degree to which I believe Cypriot history of that period has been subsequently distorted, and people have accepted views of Cypriot history up to 63-64 that were very very wide of the mark.

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“I think everything that came later, the McMillan Plan 50′, the imposed constitution 60’s, the Acheson Plan in 1964, and the Annan Plan much later – all of these were concoctions that were designed to suit outsiders’ interests rather than the interests of the Cypriot people. And I believe, very strongly, that this was a terrible part of the ‘Getting it Wrong’ process because I think that had there been policies that were genuinely democratic and applied to Cyprus, it could have become a very constructive member of the community of nations of the Eastern Mediterranean and there would have been huge benefits to every single party concerned.

“Most of the book is about the period that I have read have been books by academics who have had to inevitably depend on very limited information. Reading Lord Hannay’s book, reading other books about Cyprus, I was struck by the degree to which they have simply excluded huge parts of the genuine history of that 63-64 period which the Turkish Cypriots very much represent as being the hinge at which Cyprus as it were moved into the separated stage at which it now finds itself.

“The problem with academic books is that there is so much that has not been reported and particularly in factors that are critical of Cyprus, and that, to my mind also comes back to the activities of the intelligence community there, and the way in which those intelligence communities deliberately distorted history in order to suit their own objectives.

“I think the importance of my book is that it squashes a number of myths. It gives people a basis from which to work over the 1964 period. It obviously, for me, gave me a chance to talk to people like yourselves and discuss with you the views that I have about what happened at that time.”