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Digital Archive International History Declassified

March 19, 1974

REPORT TO TODOR ZHIVKOV REGARDING A REQUEST FOR ARMS DELIVERY TO CYPRUS IN VIEW OF A POSSIBLE GREEK COUP ON THE ISLAND

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    Wary of a coup attempt sponsored by Athens, Makarios government seeks Bulgarian assistance for closing an arms deal with Czechoslovakia.
    "Report to Todor Zhivkov Regarding a Request for Arms Delivery to Cyprus in View of a Possible Greek Coup on the Island," March 19, 1974, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Central State Archive, Sofia, Fond 378-B, File 1138, Papka 3. Obtained by the Bulgarian Cold War Research Group. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/113661
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Comrade Zhivkov,

Tonight, at his request, I received comrade E. Papaioanu [Ezekias Papaioannou]. Regarding the issue, he raised (laid out in the memo), I suggest:

1. That we summon the Czechoslovak ambassador and inform him about Papaioannou's opinion regarding the question of receiving weapons.
2. That we contact the CPSU CC [Central Committee of Communist Party of the Soviet Union] on Wednesday, in order to find out their opinion on the matter.
3. After that, instructions should be given to the press to carefully unmask the attempts at a coup d'état in Cyprus. If the Soviet comrades propose other measures (military, diplomatic), we will inform you in a timely manner.

19.III.1974
[19 March 1974]
Signature:
[K. Tellalov]


MEMORANDUM

On 17 March 1974 the Secretary of the BCP CC [Central Committee of the Bulgarian Communist Praty], Konstantin Tellalov, spoke with the Secretary General of AKEL– Cyprus [Progressive Party of the Working People of Cyprus] Ezekias Papaioannou at his request.

Comrade Papaioannou, who spent the night in Sofia en route to Moscow, wished to inform BCP CC Politburo about the following:

CC AKEL has information from three different sources that Ioannides is preparing a coup d'état of the so called “hard-line elements” in the Greek army in Greece and Cyprus simultaneously. The plan for such coup was developed by CIA, more specifically by the CIA representative on the Regional Group, Middle East - Neft [phonetic spelling], based in Athens. The goal of the plan, especially regarding Cyprus, is to oust Makarios and to deal AKEL a blow. In Greece, one has to go further to the right than the current government. There has been a tendency in the army for removing the current regime and bringing Karamanlis. Americans hope to cast a bridge between Greece and Turkey in this way. It seems as though Turkey is favorably inclined towards such a decision. Edjevid [phonetic spelling] is not far from the thought of a so called “federating” of Cyprus, regardless of the fact that he presents himself as a progressive.

The forces of EOKA-2 [EOKA-B] (grivasistite) [general Grivas' forces] would be deployed in the coup d'état in Cyprus, as well as some forces from the National Guard. The coup d'état was planned to be completed in a short amount of time, in a few hours, otherwise it would not succeed. An officer, who will head EOKA, has secretly been sent from Greece to Cyprus.

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Of all previous plans for a coup d'état in Cyprus this is the most satanic. Apparently, it has been developed by a thoughtful individual who knows the reality of life in Greece and Cyprus. For a first time one speaks of a double coup d'état. The quick execution of the coup is being relied upon, in order to avoid possible (eventualni) third-party protests.

Our information suggests that Makarios will oppose such a coup. All three information reports (informatsii) we received coincide with the information Makariaos himself has. This makes the situation even more serious. Our intelligence was received independent of his sources.

Makarios has invited Lagakos (Greece's Ambassador to Cyprus) and has stated that he knows everything that the Greeks are preparing to do in Cyprus. He [Makarios] has threatened him [Lagakos] that he [Makarios] will denounce them [the Greeks]. Lagakos has tried to counter Makarios' argument, and, obviously frightened, has asked him not to make a move. Immediately following this meeting, the representative of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs Gunaris arrived in Cyprus with the apparent goal to calm Makarios down and to talk him into remaining silent. Makarios repeated in front of him his accusations by stating: “You are to blame for the misfortunes of Cyprus.” Gunaris has tried to disprove him, but Makarios has said that this is empty talk.

Makarios has asked for weapons from the CSSR [Czechoslovak Socialist Republic] and for help from the USSR. The weaponry has to be delivered by plane soon, in no less than a week. Last week AKEL sent the Politburo member Katsuridis in Prague, in order to explain to the Czechoslovak comrades the necessity of this delivery. However, there a comrade from the International Department of the CC of the CCP [Czechoslovak Communist Party] by the name of Varvoshek [phonetic spelling] received him, and stated that they cannot offer weaponry, since they were not gun traders. He [Varvoshek] said that


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Makarios has promised to travel to Romania, but is asking for weapons from Czechoslovakia. Katsuridis has tried to explain to the Czechoslovak comrade that, most likely, Makarios will visit not only Romania, but also Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, and other socialist countries, and that it should not be required of him that he adhere to an entirely communist line. But the Czechoslovak comrades asked for a written request from Makarios, and [demanded] that the weaponry be formally sent.

Comrade Papaioannou announced that they do not understand what more formal request they [the Czechoslovak comrades] expect from Makarios, given that this one now has been made possible through Cyprus' Ambassador in Prague. Besides, the Czechoslovak comrades have used an airplane to supply weapons to Cyprus before. We – he stated – look at this problem very seriously. It concerns thousands of people, whom Makarios asked that we provide him with. We have trained these comrades, but we don't have weapons to arm them. Makarios leans on us too heavily. He has great confidence in our people. This, of course, cannot be demonstrated, but it is a fact, for example, that the radio, the TV, and the postal office are being guarded by our people. There are many of our people [employed] at airport security. Where matters are serious, he leans on us. Under these circumstances, [let's] imagine how the answer of the Czechoslovak comrades has to be evaluated. We told this to the Soviet Ambassador [to Cyprus]. He asked me to go to Moscow. I [Papaioannou] am returning discretely from there [Moscow] on Wednesday on my way to Nicosia.

We would like to ask the Bulgarian comrades to find a way to help us. We know that this is a delicate issue, but perhaps you could talk to the Czechoslovak comrades. Why are they afraid? The weaponry will be paid for. Besides, it [the weaponry] is being given to the lawful government of Cyprus at its request.



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Besides, we would like to ask you not to take any steps with respect to the Greek government – be it military exercises (uchenia), I don't know exactly what.

One way or another, we consider the situation to be very serious and we should not surrender Cyprus into the hands of the fascists. You yourself realize what would happen, if that, which transpired in Chile, were to take place. We haven't done anything to provoke such measures: we don't have an illegal party organization, we work through our official organs of state (durzahvni organi). If we didn't support the current state, it would not exist even for a day. The fact that Makarios took a hard-line position (tvurda positsia) and told the Greeks that they can enter (da minat) only over his dead body, reveals that we also need to prepare for such a response [possibility].

Since the issue is urgent – it is a matter of days, and may be hours – we need to take quick measures. It is possible for Ioannides to use the national holiday of Greece, 25 March, for this occasion, masking it with the planned (predvizhdania) parade of troops, tanks, etc.

Comrade Tellalov promised to inform comrade Zhivkov, and elaborated on our policy regarding Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey.

Comrade Papaioannou emphasized that he completely understands our policy. All that you do – he stated – is in the interest of socialism and the anti-imperial struggle. Romania and Yugoslavia express a platonic interest towards the Cyprus issue. We owe the Soviet Union a great deal. The presence of the Soviet fleet in the Mediterranean is a salvation for us. The Yugoslavs and the Romanians don't understand that. As far as Greece is concerned, our impression is that the current Greek government

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has two faces. While Tetenes speaks of “negotiations on the Cyprus issue,” the Greek army officers in Cyprus raise slogans for ENOSIS and the annihilation of AKEL at the same time.

Regarding the failure of the Greek Communist Party, comrade Papaioannou expressed the assumption that there is a traitor in the party leadership.

Finally he spoke of the necessity to undertake a political campaign for unmasking the conspirators. Our impression is – he stated – that since the past week writings in this spirit appeared more frequently in the Soviet press.

Comrade Tellalov said that he will inform our leadership about everything, and that there is no doubt that our party, as in the past, will do everything needed, which is within its powers to offer the Cyprus comrades the help needed in this difficult moment for them.

Present at the meeting were Comrade Ivan Ganev – deputy director of the department on “Foreign Policy and International Relations” and Comrade Konstantin Popov – Ambassador of PR Bulgaria in Nicosia. Simultaneous translation [was provided by] Comrade Bocho Bochev – collaborator at department “VPMV” [Foreign Policy and International Relations].

18 March 1974

Translated for CWIHP by: Kristina N. Terzieva

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