Polykarpos Giorkatzis (Greek: Πολύκαρπος Γιωρκάτζης (locally [poˈlikaɾ̥poz‿ʝoɾ̥ˈkat͡ʃis]); 5 July 1932 – 15 March 1970) was a Greek Cypriot politician. He served as the first Minister of the Interior of the Republic of Cyprus.[1] He also served as provisional minister of Labour in the period leading to Cyprus being proclaimed an independent state. Before entering the political stage he fought for EOKA.[2][3] His political career evolved from a staunch supporter of Makarios to becoming one of the archbishop's principal political rivals. He was assassinated in 1970.[4]

Polykarpos Giorkatzis
Πολύκαρπος Γιωρκάτζης
Minister of the Interior
In office
16 Aug 1960 – 1 Nov 1968
Preceded byTassos Papadopoulos (Provisional)
Succeeded byEpaminondas Komodromos
Minister of Defence
In office
1 Jul 1964 – 1 Nov 1968
Preceded byOsman Örek
Succeeded byEpaminondas Komodromos
Personal details
Born5 July 1932
Palaichori Morphou, Crown Colony of Cyprus
Died15 March 1970 (aged 37)
Mia Milia, Republic of Cyprus
Fotini Leventi
(m. 1967; died 1970)
ChildrenConstantinos Giorkatzis
Maria Giorkatzi

EOKA years edit

Giorkatzis joined the ranks of EOKA, the Greek Cypriot organization fighting against British rule in Cyprus, in his twenties and assumed the nom de guerre Laertes. He became regional commander of EOKA operations in Nicosia. He was nicknamed "Houdini" in reference to his several successful escapes including from the Nicosia hospital on 31 August 1956[5] and from Nicosia Central Prisons on 2 May 1958.[6] After the end of the struggle he claimed to have been tortured whilst held captive by the colonial security forces.[7]

Political career edit

Provisional Minister of Labour edit

Giorkatzis was appointed Minister of Labour in the transitional government set up immediately before the Republic of Cyprus became independent. The Ministry of Labour, however, was effectively run by Tassos Papadopoulos, who held the official title of Minister of the Interior. British pressure had forced Makarios to distance Giorkatzis, a former active EOKA member from the Ministry of Interior which was in charge of internal security, police and intelligence.

Minister of the Interior edit

Following the first elections in 1960, Archbishop Makarios III, officially swapped the ministries between the two men. Typically for the ex-EOKA ministers in Makarios' first Council of Ministers, Giorkatzis was very young at the time, aged 29. He also had no higher education.

As Minister of the Interior, Giorkatzis quickly became notorious for using the police as his personal army. It is rumoured that he also set up a vast information network. He was also the leader of the underground Greek Cypriot pro-Enosis movement, initially known simply as the Organisation, which later clashed with the Turkish Cypriot TMT in the intercommunal strife which began in December 1963. Giorkatzis' code name in the Organisation was "Akritas", another name for the legendary Byzantine hero Digenis, an obvious link to the pseudonym of EOKA leader Georgios Grivas. Giorkatzis is alleged to have authored the so-called Akritas plan (plan of action in case of clashes between the Greek and Turkish communities in Cyprus). The document became famous after it was leaked to the press, and acquired its popular name from the codename signed under it. With Glafkos Clerides he established the first centre right party of Cyprus, attracting many of the EOKA members in its ranks.

Links to failed Greek PM assassination edit

In 1968, Giorkatzis offered assistance to Alekos Panagoulis, a Greek political activist (and later politician), who opposed the rise of the military junta in Greece, in his attempted assassination of dictator Georgios Papadopoulos on 13 August 1968. Panagoulis was arrested shortly after the failure of the attempt. It is not likely Giorkatzis was acting out of ideology. It is much more probable that he attempted to use Panagoulis as part of some greater plan, since there were growing signs of disagreement between the government of Cyprus under President and Archbishop Makarios and the military junta in Greece. What is known is that Giorkatzis simultaneously attempted to ship explosives and weapons to Greece using diplomatic bag prerogatives.

Despite the torture he was subjected to, Panagoulis revealed nothing. However, the Giorkatzis connection became known to the junta and Archbishop Makarios, President of the Republic of Cyprus, was forced by the junta to ask for Giorkatzis' resignation. The dictator Georgios Papadopoulos, the target of the attempt, had been godfather at the baptism of Giorkatzis' first child, Constantinos, just a year earlier, which particularly incensed Papadopoulos.

Assassination edit

A week later, Giorkatzis drove to a secret night rendezvous in an open area outside the village of Mia Milia; He asked a close associate to accompany him, but dropped him off some distance from the meeting point and drove on alone. As Giorkatzis' car approached another car parked at the meeting point, the occupants of the other car opened fire with automatic weapons. One of them then walked up to Giorkatzis' car and delivered a coup de grâce. They then drove off leaving Giorkatzis dead at the scene.[8] Fanis Demetriou, the police officer in charge of the investigation, quickly found evidence pointing towards the same two Greek officers in Makarios' entourage who had been found to be involved in the Hermes plot. After he reported this to his superiors, Demetriou was ordered off the case. The two particular Greek officers were eventually only questioned several weeks later, at which time they gave identical accounts of their whereabouts on the night of the murder. They both left the island shortly thereafter and never returned.

Giorkatzis' widow Fotini married Tassos Papadopoulos, then Minister of Labour, two years after her husband's death.[9] Papadopoulos and Giorkatzis had been close friends, and Papadopoulos had been best man at Giorkatzis' wedding.

Though Giorkatzis planned and executed an operation to assassinate the President of the Republic, and though his role in this has been acknowledged by the courts, the yearly church service in his memory is attended by prominent figures among the Greek Cypriot political leadership and at least one street has been named after him. A museum honoring the most distinguished aspects of his life is active in his birthplace in Palaichori, formally opened in 2002 by the then President Glafkos Clerides.[10]

Quotes edit

  • "Anything can happen now. To Makarios, people are like lemons: when they are squeezed dry, he throws them away." Quoted soon after the failed assassination attempt on Makarios on 8 March 1970. Giorkatzis was removed from a plane whilst trying to flee to Beirut.[11]

References edit

  1. ^ "Rulers. org – Cypriot Ministries, etc". Retrieved 30 July 2008.
  2. ^ Σήμερα .gr, Σαν. "Πολύκαρπος Γιωρκάτζης: Μία από τις πιο αμφιλεγόμενες προσωπικότητες του Κυπριακού Ελληνισμού". Σαν Σήμερα .gr (in Greek). Retrieved 9 May 2023.
  3. ^ ""Η μάχη του Νοσοκομείου" με 4 νεκρούς, όταν αγωνιστές της ΕΟΚΑ προσπάθησαν να απελευθερώσουν τον «Χουντίνι» της οργάνωσης, Πολύκαρπο Γιωρκάτζη. Ο ρόλος του δεσμοφύλακα". ΜΗΧΑΝΗ ΤΟΥ ΧΡΟΝΟΥ (in Greek). 31 August 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2023.
  4. ^ Δρουσιώτης, Μακάριος. ΔΥΟ ΑΠΟΠΕΙΡΕΣ ΚΑΙ ΜΙΑ ΔΟΛΟΦΟΝΙΑ Η ΧΟΥΝΤΑ ΚΑΙ Η ΚΥΠΡΟΣ: 1967-1970. ISBN 9789963631100.
  5. ^ Papanastasiou, Nicos (5 August 2005). "Η "Μάχη του Νοσοκομείου" (31 August 1956) (The hospital battle)". Simerini (in Greek). Retrieved 5 August 2008.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ Watson, Roland (3 May 1958). "News in Brief – Three more Nicosia prison escapes". The Times Digital Archive. London. pp. 6, Issue 54141, col B. Retrieved 26 July 2008.
  7. ^ Papanastasiou, Nicos (26 October 2003). "Βασανιστήρια ιερωμένων, γυναικών και ατόμων κάθε ηλικίας (Torture of clergy, women and people of all ages)". Simerini (in Greek). Retrieved 5 August 2008.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ "Ίδρυμα «Πολύκαρπος Γιωρκάτζης»". www.yiorkadjis.org.cy. Retrieved 9 May 2023.
  9. ^ Polignosi. "Παπαδοπούλου Φωτεινή". www.polignosi.com. Retrieved 9 May 2023.
  10. ^ "Οικία – Μουσείο Πολύκαρπου Γιωρκάτζη". Παλαιχώρι Μόρφου. Retrieved 9 May 2023.
  11. ^ "Under the Threat of Guns". Time Magazine. 30 March 1970. Archived from the original on 25 October 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2008.