Michael Christodoulou Mouskos (Greek: Μιχαήλ Χριστοδούλου Μούσκος) was born in Panayia village in the Paphos District. In 1926, aged 13, he was admitted to Kykkos Monastery as a novice. At age 20 he was sent to the Pancyprian Gymnasium in Nicosia, where he completed his secondary education in 1936. He spent the difficult years of World War II studying theology and law at the University of Athens, graduating in 1942. He took up the duties of a priest in the Cypriot Orthodox Church while sustaining an interest in academic theology; he received a World Council of Churches scholarship to undertake further study at Boston University in Massachusetts.
In 1948, while still studying at Boston, he was elected Bishop of Kition against his will. Mouskos adopted the clerical name Makarios and returned to Cyprus. Like many public figures in the Greek Cypriot community in Cyprus, in the 1940s and 1950s he was an active supporter of enosis, the union of Cyprus with Greece.
On September 18, 1950, Makarios, only 37 years old, was elected Archbishop of Cyprus. In this role he was not only the official head of the Orthodox Church in Cyprus, but became the Ethnarch, de facto national leader of the Greek Cypriot community. This highly influential position put Makarios at the centre of Cypriot politics.
During the 1950s, Makarios embraced his dual role as Archbishop and Ethnarch with enthusiasm and became a very popular figure among Greek Cypriots. He soon became a leading advocate for enosis (the unification of Cyprus with Greece), and during the early part of the decade he maintained close links with the Greek government. In August 1954, partly at Makarios' instigation, Greece began to raise the question of Cyprus at the United Nations, arguing for the principle of self-determination to be applied to Cyprus. This was viewed by advocates of enosis as likely to result in the voluntary union of Cyprus with Greece following a public referendum.
However, the British government was reluctant to decolonize the island which had become their new headquarters for the Middle East. In 1955, a pro-enosis organization was formed under the banner of Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston (National Organization of Cypriot Fighters), or EOKA. This was a typical independence movement of the period. Makarios undoubtedly had common political ground with EOKA and was acquainted with its leader, the Greek soldier and politician George Grivas, but the extent of his involvement is unclear and disputed. In later life he categorically denied any involvement in the violent resistance undertaken by EOKA.
On August 20, 1955, Greece submitted a petition to the United Nations requesting the application of the principle of self-determination to the people of Cyprus. After that, the colonial government of Cyprus enforced the anti-sedition laws for the purpose of preventing or suppressing demonstrations in favor of union with Greece; but the archbishop defied them and continued demanding self-determination for Cyprus.
In October 1955, with the security situation deteriorating, the British governor, Sir John Harding, opened talks on the island’s future. By this stage, Makarios had become closely identified with the insurgency, and talks broke up without any agreement in early 1956. Makarios, characterized in the British press as a crooked Cypriot priest and viewed with suspicion by the British authorities, was intercepted by Special Branch officers while attempting to board a flight at Nicosia airport. The joint police/military plan, codenamed Operation Apollo, saw Makarios exiled to Mahe Island in the Seychelles on 9 March 1956, as a ‘guest’ of Sir William Addis, Governor & Commander-in-Chief of the Seychelles. The Archbishop and his staff were flown to Aden and then on to Mombasa. At the Kenyan port the party were embarked in the East African Naval Vessel “Rosalind”, escorted by the frigate HMS Loch Fada. The flotilla arrived in Port Victoria on 14 March.
In the latter years of the 1950s, the Turkish Cypriot community first began to float the idea of Taksim or partition, as a counterweight to the Greek ideal of enosis or union. Advocates of Taksim felt that the Turkish Cypriot community would be persecuted in a Greek Cyprus, and that only by keeping part of the island under either British or Turkish sovereignty could the safety of the Turkish Cypriots be guaranteed. In this way the Cyprus dispute became increasingly polarized between two communities with opposing visions of the future of the island.
Makarios was released from exile after a year, although he was still forbidden to return to Cyprus. He went instead to Athens, where he was rapturously received. Basing himself in the Greek capital, he continued to work for enosis. During the following two years he attended the General Assembly of the United Nations where the Cyprus question was discussed and worked hard to achieve union with Greece.
Under the premiership of Constantine Karamanlis in Greece, the goal of enosis was gradually abandoned in favour of Cypriot independence. Negotiations in 1958 generated the Zurich Agreement as a basis for a deal on independence, and Makarios was invited to London in 1959 to fine-tune the plan. Makarios at first refused to accept the plan. The reversal of his pro-enosis stance, and his eventual agreement to sign the conditions for the independence of Cyprus, have been attributed to moral persuasion on behalf of the Greek and British governments.
On March 1, 1959, the archbishop returned to Cyprus to an unprecedented reception in Nicosia, where almost two-thirds of the adult Greek Cypriot population turned out to welcome him. Presidential elections were held on 13 December 1959, in which Makarios defeated his rival, lawyer John Clerides, father of future president and Makarios ally Glafkos Clerides, receiving two-thirds of the vote. Makarios was to become the political leader of all Cyprus as well as the communal leader of the Greek Cypriots.
After his election Makarios, together with the Vice-President-elect, Dr. Fazıl Küçük, continued to draw up plans for Cyprus’s future. By now, Makarios had accepted that enosis was not to be, and that the only outcome which could secure harmony in Cyprus was robust independence. Taking office on August 16, 1960, the day the Union Flag was lowered in Nicosia, Makarios moved towards the moderate centre of Cypriot politics and now pursued a policy of non-alignment, cultivating good relations with Turkey as well as Greece and becoming a high-profile member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
In March 1961, Cyprus was admitted as member of the Commonwealth of Nations and Makarios represented the island at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference. He attended the Belgrade NAM conference in September 1961, and unnerved the governments in London and Washington, D.C. with his lukewarm policy towards the West. This was seen in the U.S. as demonstrating a tendency towards communism; Makarios was vilified as the "Castro of the Mediterranean" although he had by now been rehabilitated in the British press and was affectionately nicknamed "Black Mak" on account of his clerical garb.
But the idea of an independent path for Cyprus had not taken root among the general public at home. There was increasing acrimony between Turkish and Greek Cypriots about the workings of the constitution, and Makarios was forced to act to salvage the machinery of state from imminent collapse. In November 1963, Makarios proposed thirteen amendments to the Constitution, which would free many public offices from the ethnic restrictions agreed in London and Zurich. This, he argued, would allow the government to operate more efficiently, and bring together the communities by dissolving rigid inter-ethnic legal boundaries. However, the amendments were seen by many Turkish Cypriots as threatening constitutional protections against domination by the majority Greek Cypriots.
In response to Makarios' proposals, most Turkish Cypriots in public office, including Vice-President Küçük, resigned; large numbers of Turkish Cypriots moved out of ethnically mixed areas into villages and towns where the population was already largely Turkish Cypriot. There is still dispute over the motives for this, some arguing that it was made necessary by the intimidation of the Turkish Cypriots by the Greek Cypriots; others suggest that the Turkish community was sabotaging the Cypriot settlement and already preparing for partition by Turkey. By the end of 1963, intercommunal violence had broken out once again.
The political landscape in Cyprus remained intractable. UN peacekeeping operations (UNFICYP) commenced in 1964 and helped to soothe, but not solve, the situation. Makarios continued his high-profile neutrality, but ultimately failed either to reassure the Turkish Cypriots that they were safe in an independent Cyprus, or to convince the Greek Cypriots that independence was a satisfactory alternative to assimilation within a Greater Greece.
President Makarios, seeking a fresh mandate from his constituency, announced in January 1968 that elections would be held during February. Makarios received 220,911 votes (about 96 percent), and his opponent, Takis Evdokas, who ran on a platform for unification with Greece, received 8,577 votes. Even though there were 16,215 abstentions, Makarios' overwhelming victory was seen as a massive endorsement of his personal leadership and of an independent Cyprus. At his investiture, the president stated that the Cyprus problem could not be solved by force, but had to be worked out within the framework of the UN. He also said that he and his followers wanted to live peacefully in a unitary state where all citizens enjoyed equal rights. Some Cypriots opposed Makarios' conciliatory stance (and there was an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate him in 1970).
In 1967, a military junta seized power in Athens, and the relationship between the regime and Makarios was tense. Makarios held that the regime undermined his authority by supporting paramilitary organizations committed to enosis.
In the summer of 1971, tension built up between the two Cypriot communities, and incidents became more numerous. Sometime in the late summer or early autumn, Grivas (who had attacked Makarios as a traitor in an Athens newspaper) returned secretly to the island and began to rebuild his guerrilla organization, which became known as the National Organization of Cypriot Fighters (Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston B, aka EOKA B). Three new newspapers advocating enosis were also established; all of these activities were funded by the military junta in Greece.
The junta probably would have agreed to some form of partition similar to the Acheson Plan to settle the Cyprus question, but it faced rejection by Makarios. The overthrow of Makarios became the primary objective, and the junta backed Grivas toward that end. From hiding, Grivas directed terrorist attacks and propaganda assaults that shook the Makarios government, but the president remained both a powerful and popular leader.
Relations between Nicosia and Athens were so bad that the colonels of the Greek junta, recognizing that they had Makarios in a perilous position, issued an ultimatum for him to reform his government and rid it of ministers who had been critical of the junta. Mass demonstrations proved that Makarios had the people behind him. In the end, however, Makarios bowed to Greek pressure and reshuffled the cabinet.
Another element working against Makarios was the fact that most officers of the Cypriot National Guard were Greek regulars who supported the junta, and they embraced its desire to remove him from office and achieve some degree of enosis. Grivas also continued to be a threat to the archbishop. He remained powerful and to some extent was independent of the junta that had permitted his return to Cyprus. While the Greek colonels were at times prepared to make a deal with Turkey about Cyprus, Grivas was ferociously opposed to any arrangement that did not lead to complete enosis.
In the spring of 1972, Makarios faced an attack from another quarter. The three bishops of the Church of Cyprus demanded that he resign as president, stating that his temporal duties violated canon law. Makarios foiled the three bishops and had them defrocked in the summer of 1973. Before choosing their replacements, he increased the number of bishops to five, thereby reducing the power of individual bishops (see ecclesiastical coup).
As time progressed Grivas' pursuit of enosis through guerrilla tactics with the use of the EOKA-B's paramilitary organisation failed to force Makarios to follow the policy of self-determination-union with Greece and led to a period of armed civil war in Cyprus among the Greek-Cypriot community. By the end of 1973 Makarios forces had won the civil struggle and Grivas was in a desperate position. In November 1973, Dimitrios Ioannidis, the hardliner nationalist brigadier, overthrew Papadopoulos and established the Second Junta with him as the "invisible dictator". General Grivas tried to contact the new regime in Greece in the end of 1973 but, until his death of a heart attack on January 27, 1974 Ioannides did not give any indication as to his intentions in Cyprus (The Tragic Duel and the Betrayal of Cyprus-2011). Makarios granted his followers an amnesty, hoping that EOKA-B would disappear after the death of its leader. A lot of members of EOKA-B or sympathisers were of the opinion to politicize the struggle for enosis but the hardliners prevailed and took control of the post-Grivas EOKA-B. Ioannides took direct control of the organization with the signing of a secret Memorandum and his aim was to use it to overthrow Makarios.
On May 3, 1974, Makarios sent the Greek government a letter that identified certain Greek military officers stationed in Cyprus as undermining the Cypriot government. The Greek regime responded that it would replace the officers in question. In the second half of June 1974 Makarios decided to take the initiative and challenge directly the Ioannides regime believing that he would humiliate it and eliminate its control of Cyprus through the Greek military officers in the Cypriot National Guard, thus making it impossible for them to stage a coup against him. In a second letter on July 2, 1974 he demanded the withdrawal of all Greek officers in the island by July 20, 1974. Greek Foreign Minister Tetenes suggested, as a compromise, that Makarios personally select the replacement officers from a roster of Greek officers. On July 11, Glafkos Klerides visited Makarios in an unsuccessful attempt to promote a solution. On July 15, 1974 Ioannides took Makarios by surprise by organizing a coup d'état in Nicosia at 8.15 in the morning when Makarios' forces were off guard. Makarios fled Cyprus when the coupist forces took control of the whole of Cyprus and was replaced by Nikos Sampson, a Cypriot newspaper editor and politician.
Speaking to the UN Security Council on July 19, 1974, Makarios denounced the coup as an "invasion", engineered by the Greek military junta, which "violated the internal peace of Cyprus". Five hours after Makarios' address to the Security Council, the Turkish invasion of Cyprus began, taking Ioannides by surprise. Under the terms of the Treaty of Guarantee, Britain, Greece and Turkey were entitled to co-operate in order to intervene with the purpose of restoring the constitution of the island.
At this time the Greek junta was imploding, and the British government was facing the constitutional uncertainty of a hung parliament; moreover, according to the Greek diplomat Ange Vlachos, while in London Makarios lobbied for the British military not to intervene as a guarantor power. The testimony of Vlachos is not supported by the confidential minutes of the meeting of Makarios and Prime Minister Wilson on 17 July 1974. According to the minutes Makarios tells the Prime Minister to convey to the Turkish Prime Minister Ecevit: "What practical measures can be taken. It is against the Turkish interests for Cyprus to become part of Greece." The invasion of Cyprus by Turkey occurred on July 20, 1974, five days after the coup. Northern Cyprus remains occupied by the Turkish Army, despite the constitution and presidency having been restored. To Turks and Turkish Cypriots it is known as a "peace operation", designed to protect the Turkish Cypriot community.
Nikos Sampson’s presidency was short-lived, as the regime of the "invisible dictator" Ioannides in Athens collapsed only a few days after the Turkish invasion as a result of its failure to predict the Turkish invasion and intervene militarily in the war of Cyprus. Unsupported, Sampson resigned on July 23, and the presidency passed to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Glafkos Klerides. Makarios remained in London for five months; then, having succeeded in securing international recognition that his administration was the rightful government of the whole island, he returned to Cyprus and focused solely on restoring Cypriot territorial integrity. He was not successful, and Turkey has remained as an occupying power ever since, with the political, military and diplomatic status of the island unresolved.
Makarios III died unexpectedly of a heart attack on August 3, 1977. In order to confirm the cause of death, Makarios' heart was removed during an autopsy. The heart has since been preserved in his former bedroom in the Archbishopric. He is buried in a tomb on the mountain of Throni, a site he personally chose. The tomb is near Kykkos Monastery, where he served as a novice in the 1920s and 1930s. To commemorate his life, an imposing bronze statue of Makarios was erected outside the Archbishop's palace in Nicosia; in 2008 the statue was moved to Kykkos monastery and replaced by a life-size marble statue of Makarios.
At his funeral, held at St. John's Cathedral outside the Archbishopric in Nicosia, 182 dignitaries from 52 countries attended while an estimated 250,000 mourners—about half the Greek Cypriot population of the island—filed past the coffin.1913–1942: Mr Michael Christodoulou Mouskos
1942–1948: The Reverend Father Michael Christodoulou Mouskos
1948–1950: The Right Reverend Michael Christodoulou Mouskos, Bishop of Kition
1950–1960: His Beatitude Makarios III, Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and All Cyprus
1960–1977: His Beatitude Makarios III, Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and All Cyprus, President of the Republic of Cyprus
Grand Cordon of the Order of the Nile
Special class of the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
Grand Master of the Order of Orthodox Hospitallers