Archbishop Makarios, president of Cyprus from independence in 1960 until his death in office today at the age of 63, dominated modern Cypriot history to such a degree that he came to symbolize the character and destiny of the island republic.
The son of a village goatherd, he became head of the Greek Orthodox Church and then head of state - the first and probably last man to combine the roles. Makarios exercised a charismatic local influence in uniting Greek Cypriots, but alienated the Turkish Cypriot minority.
Often accused of deviousness or indecision, Makarios, who like Marshal Tito of Yugoslavia and the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt was a founding figure in the nonaligned movement, actually pursued with remarkable simplicity and consistency of purpose his overriding policy objective: Independence for Cyprus, whose strategic importance has made it a focal point of international tension since World War II.
In the tradition of Greek Orthodox "priest-politicians" he was a leader of the EOKA movement to end British colonial rule. Invested with unique legitimacy as spiritual and temporal leader, Makarios gradually used his influence to wean Greek Cypriots away from the old idea of ENOSIS - union of Cyprus with Greece and resisted pressure from Athens during the dictatiorship of "the colonels", who wanted to divide Cyprus with Turkey.
After the Athens-backed coup and Turkish invasion three years ago, Makarios sought a Cyprus settlement in the form of a federal state rather than partition between Greek Cypriots and a Turkish Cypriot minority backed by Turkey.
Long an irritant to Western Cold War exponents. Makarios gradually won wider acceptance as the inescapable spokesman of Greek Cypriots.
His gravest political failures were his inability to win the confidence of Turkish Cypriots, who comprise a fifth of Cyprus' population, for whom Makarios was anathema as a churchman ruling Moslems, as a onetime supporter of enosis who wanted to reduce Turkish minority rights, and as a leader who lacked sternness toward extremists is his own Greek Cypriot community. The combined effect of these characteristics helped trigger the bloody division of Cyprus in 1974.
Like other statemen who have mastered the art of survival. Makarios had the knack of turning errors and even national political disasters to personal advantage.
Under Makarios, Cyprus in the 1950s preferred armed struggle for enosis to self-government on the terms offered by Britain. In the 1960s, Makarios attempted to change the constitution without obtaining Turkish Cypriot acquiescence. In the 1970s, Makarios misgauged the retermination of the hostile dictatorship in Athens.
Yet, Makarios emerged from all these conflicts with strengthened support among Greek Cypriots, who saw him as the leader who could save Cyprus and as the farther figuer who could stand above rival Greek Cypriot political factions.
At the same time, Makarios presided during a period of modernization that has helped Cyprus achieve a standard of living comparable to many Western European countries.
The problem of transferring power peacefully to a successor will be the test of how successfully Makarios' leadership fostered a democratic process in Cyprus.
Makarios was born Michael Mouskos on Aug. 13, 1913, in Panayia near Paphos in Western Cyprus, then a british colony. Like many energetic children of poor Cypriots, he got his education from the Cypriot branch of the Greek Orthodox Church and ultimately spent seven years in Kikko Monastery, emerging with the heavy beard of a monk and his new name - Makarios ("the blessed").
After World War II, he pursued his theological studies at Boston University on a World Council of Churches scholarship, but his stay in the United States, of which he retained fond memories, was cut short when he was summoned home to become one of the island's four bishops in 1948.
Two years later, his reputation made when he organized a plebiscite that favored enosis . Makarios was elected Greek Orthodox archbishop and ethnarch of Cyprus, the only elective job permitted under British rule Makarios had become the leader of Cyprus.
By 1955, Makarios was the political leader of EOKA, the independence movement. That year he attended the conference of non aligned nations in Bandung, Indonesia. There he established his lasting friendships with Nasser and Tito and launched the strategy of appealing to the non-aligned world, since the nations of Western Europe refused to support Cypriot appeals for union with Greece.
With tension increasing on Cyprus, the British exiled Makarios the next year to the Seychelles Island in the Indian Ocean, where he studied the tactics of the Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi.
Welcomed back to Cyprus as a martyr, Makarios was the overwhelming victor in the first presidential elections when British rule ended in 1960.
The British-drafted constitution, known as the Zurich and London Agreements, was imposed on Makarios, who felt it gave Turkish Cypriots political advantages that made Cyprus ungovernable.
In 1963, his proposals for constitutional changes touched off fighting between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities and nearly provoked a Turkish invasion. The crisis was resolved with the intervention of United Nations peacekeepers to protect the new "Turkish enclaves," which rejected Makarios' authority and gradually came to rely on Turkey for economic aid as well as defense.
The 1963 crisis put a major strain on Makarios' relations with the United States. Although a strongly-worded letter to Ankara from President Johnson had helped stave off the Turkish invasion, Makarios firmly rejected suggestions for a NATO peace-keeping force presented by U.S. diplomat George Ball, who said he found Makarios "the stubbornest man I ever met."
The label "Castro of the Mediterranean" was applied to Makarios, who had appealed for Soviet support and had received a message from Moscow warning that a NATO move on Cyprus would threaten world peace. Despite his personal conservative philosophy. Makarios worked succesfully with the Cypriot Communist Party. Suspicious of Western intentions. Makarios reinforced his strategy of relying on world opinion - and particularly the infleunce of nonaligned countries, to safeguard Cyprus' sovereignty.
As Turkish Cypriots became more dependent on Turkey, the Greek Cypriot community started developing internal rivalries, which were aggravated by developments in Greece.
The 1967 army coup in Athens was followed by Greek-Turkish incidents on Cyprus - and another Cyprus crisis. It was solved in negotiations largely conducted by Cyrus Vance, now U.S. secretary of state, who developed a good working relationship with Makarios. The Vance mission succeded in averting war, between Greece and Turkey, partly by reducing the covert Greek presence on Cyprus.
In a speech in 1963, Makarios repudiated Enosis , saying: "a solution must necessarily be sought within the limits of what is feasible, which does not always coincide with what is desirable."
Makarios had become convinced that the Athens junta was aiming to climinate Cyprus as a source of friction with Turkey and an irritant within NATO, if necessary by "double Enosis the (partition of Cyprus between Greece and Turkey.
A bitter underground struggle pitted Makarios against successive military regimes in Greece. Profiting from the reduction of Greek leverage, Makarios fired his interior minister, Polycarpos Georgadjis, who controlled rightist Greek Cypriot, factions, with the help of funds provided by the CIA for the anti-Communist activities.
The first assassination attempt against Makarios occured in 1970 when machine-gunners brought down his helicopter but missed Makarios.
The power struggle culminated in the 1974 coup led by EOKA-B gunmen under Nicos Sampson and backed by national guard troops commanded by Greek officers loyal to the junta.
Makarios escaped from the presidential palace as it was being destroyed by tank fire and fled to Paphos and thence to London. When he returned home it was to an island more than one-third occupied by Turkish forces and with Turkish Cypriots gradually being resettled in their own "zone" - a step Makarios and always resisted as a blow to the island's unity. And a threat to its independence.
Although Makarios himself publicly dismissed allegations of American involvement in the coup and invasion, antagonism plainly existed between him and Kissinger, who once described Makarios as "too big for such a small island."
Despite his threat to wage a "long struggle," Makarios nevertheless told Greek Cypriots that American pressure was the best hope of a Cyprus settlement. Bolstered recently by President Carter's promises, Makarios worked to set the stage for American mediation and for Greek Cypriot concessions.
Since 1974, his beard had whitened, and the strain had begun to show physically. He suffered a heart attack April 3, shortly after a major Greek Cypriot internal row over whether to comply with American urging to publish a proposal in the form of a map showing a division of Cyprus into a two-zone federation.
Although he appeared to make a good recovery, his weakened condition had undermined the mood of compromise among Greek Cypriots and strengthened the Turkish side's resistance to making concessions.In "reasonable mood." Makerios came to be regarded by many diplomats as the only man who could deliver a reasonable solution on Cyprus.
Whatever its long-term impact on the Greek-Turkish issue. Makarios' death removes a powerful force from the Cypriot political scene. One well informed analyst argued that Makarios directly controlled a third of all Greek Cypriots and a third of all Greek Cypriot affairs through his various positions.
Makarios was an extraordinary mixture. He was a spiritual leader, exercising an authority as special as the red ink with which he signed his conrespondence a legacy of Nyzantium. As leader of the autocophalous (Cypriot branch of the Greek Orthodox Church, he pursued liberal, modernizing policies for instance, he tolerated birth control.
As a politician, he had a flawless sense of Greek Cypriot opionon and a common touch that could put Cypriots at their ease.
In any situation, from a formal political encounter to any of the countless audiences he held for ordinary Cypriots. Makarios was often able to break the ice with his jokes, of which he was a ready inventor, from the elaborate to the earthy.
Despite a warm family life (a brother was his driver, his sister kept house for him, and his nephews and nieces were often around him) Makarios kept a personal distance from the public that Cypriots respected.
Whatever his failures, Makarios made his mark because of the Greek Cypriots' conviction that he was thorougly Cypriot, that his mistakes were not the result of corruption or intrigue, but of the determination of a Cypriot nationalist to create a modern Cyprus.