Guest Viewpoints

Sir Crispin Tickell – One of the Cyprus Partition Pioneers – Has Passed Away

February 26, 2022
By Constantine Tzanos

Sir Crispin Tickell, the second in line British ‘executioner’ of the Republic of Cyprus, died of pneumonia on January 25, 2022, at the age of 91.

In Cyprus, Greece, and the Greek diaspora, very few if any know about this British Foreign Office high ranking official and ‘worthy’ follower of the statement by the Colonial Secretary (Lennox-Boyd) of December 19, 1956 (he promised to the Turks and Turkish Cypriots that partition and separate self-determination for the 18% minority in Cyprus would not be excluded in a final solution of the Cyprus problem).

There are also the partitionist plans of Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick (Foreign Office) in 1956/57 in combination with Dr. Nihat Erim’s reports of 1956 (Plan delivered to Turkish PM Menderes in November 1956 ‘How to recapture Cyprus’).

Sir Crispin Tickell completed the ‘work’ of his predecessors in 1964. His plan paved the work that had to be done in advance for Turkey to invade unhindered i.e. cutting ties between Greece and Cyprus and using the American 6th Fleet and the British Royal Navy to stop any Greek help in aid of Cyprus. His last act regarding Cyprus was in 1990. I will explain below.

Let’s  look first at what the British press wrote about him.

In their obituaries, the British newspapers wrote about the career diplomat that he was – an advisor to four British prime ministers, that “he had a tremendous intellect and showed perfect timing when he intervened in politics.”

“Tickell was born in London, the son of writer and historian Jerrard Tickell and his wife, also writer Renée (nee Haynes). Early in his career he was described as one of the smartest of his generation, going to Westminster school and graduating from Christ Church in Oxford in 1952 and serving in the Coldstream Guards before starting in the Foreign Office in 1954. His first job at the Foreign Office was in charge of the British Antarctic Territory … Transfers to various British embassies followed … His impressive understanding of detail was crucial in the UK’s accession negotiations with the European Economic Community … His last posting abroad was as Permanent Representative to the Security Council from 1987-1990 … But he did not retire at all after leaving there … ” (The Guardian, January 25, 2022).

Now back to the Cyprus issue.

I dare say that thanks to my research in the British National Archives in London, we now know that in 1964 behind Foreign Office closed doors, Sir Crispin Tickell was the man who paved the way for the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. He was one of the promoters and designers of the “two constituent states” through the British-Turkish bi-communal, bi-zonal federation in Cyprus idea – and not only. Even more so because he was the man who foresaw exactly what they had to do, looking 10 years ahead … And he confessed that himself.

Apocalyptic – ‘Shaping the World 10 years ahead’

In an interview with Churchill College, Cambridge, on January 28, 1999, Sir Crispin Tickell revealed much about his role and service in British politics and diplomacy. He spoke about the plans they made in the Foreign Office Planning Department and said, among other things: “We were writing long-term policy papers. E.g. we wrote about our future relations with the Soviet Union… with Cuba… I was  the secretary of the working group for the Ministry for shaping the world 10 years ahead… ”

1964 – ‘The Future of Cyprus’ – 10 years ahead!

Sir Crispin was the head of the planning team at the Planning Department between 1961-1964. The other two were Sir Michael Palliser and Sir Robert Wade-Gery, both with involvement in the Cyprus issue.

Although in his interview he did not mention their plans in relation to Cyprus, nevertheless the rich British National Archives did not hide their plans. His three-page document, with his planning, entitled ‘The Future of Cyprus, looking 10 years ahead,’ bears his signature dated February 14, 1964.

The plan referred to three possible solutions with territorial separation: Dividing Cyprus through a double union (between Greece and Turkey), dividing through a federation-confederation, perhaps, with special relations with Greece and Turkey respectively, or a federation dividing the island into cantons, one or two of which to be Turkish.

In his long-term strategic plan Sir Crispin envisaged that they had to cut the umbilical cord with Greece (relations Greece/Cyprus) and that they would need the use  of the 6th American Fleet and the British Royal Navy to prevent Greek ships from crossing the Aegean in aid of Cyprus. Coordinated effort with the allies (and pro-British elements in Greece) to minimise relations between the Greek Government and Greek Cypriots and “attacks against the Greek press and radio” etc.

The last paragraph of  Sir Crispin Tickell’s document concluded: “11. The various courses of action suggested above would take some time to produce results. In one respect at least time is on our side in the island. Whatever happens it sees [sic] certain that the present redeployment of population will continue and the Turks will gather in the northern part of the island. The more complete this is, the more obvious and acceptable a solution of the kind described in para 1 above.”



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