In April, the Anglo-Turkish Society turns the spotlight on Britain’s historical role in Cyprus with a talk from Dr Michael A. Riccioli.
The Istanbul-born and educated academic of Maltese descent is a retired senior lecturer and researcher from the Université Paris Dauphine, where he specialised in Anglo-Turkish relations.
Any student of history will know that Anglo-Turkish relations have been through political conflicts, diplomatic manoeuvrings, and economic difficulties over the centuries, yet the spirit of cordial relations has always persisted between the two countries.
Turkiye’s neutrality during the Second World War, for example, strained relations with the Allies and the Axis powers. Yet the legacy of Atatürk’s enthusiasm for pro-West relations, and the help of British and Turkish ambassadors, Turkiye managed to restore relations with Britain.
The British government was well aware that Turkish neutrality between 1939 and 1945 had prevented the conflict from spreading to the Middle East, according to Dr. Riccioli. In the post-war period, while the British had been replaced in the Middle East by the Americans, they continued to be present in Turkiye.
In this hybrid talk, Dr. Riccioli will also explore the role of Britain’s two leading political parties in colonial Cyprus. The British Conservative Party were, he argues, historically pro-Turkish and were happy to support partition of the island, while the Philhellenic members of the British Labour Party strongly advocated for the Greek Cypriots and their right to self-determination, even if that meant Enosis (‘union with Greece’).
These differences impacted the UK’s approach to Cyprus before and after the establishment of an independent Republic of Cyprus in 1960, including in 1974.
Britain’s response to the war in Cyprus, says Dr. Riccioli, was a turning point as it chose to avoid being embroiled in a hopeless struggle and instead ‘lay down the burden’* it had inherited from the Turks in 1878 (* from John Reddaway, ‘Burdened with Cyprus: The British Connection’).
You can hear Dr. Riccioli’s fascinating talk in full and ask questions at this in-person event at the Royal Anthropological Institute. It will also be broadcast live via Zoom. Details and how to get tickets are below.
Dr Michael A. Riccioli, a British citizen of Maltese descent, was born in Istanbul. He attended the English High School for Girls (primary) and the English High School for Boys (secondary) and completed his secondary and high school studies at the French Consulate General School (Istanbul).
After his French Baccalauréat, he received a three-year grant – The Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Fund Grant – from the British Consulate General in Istanbul to cover his book expenses when he decided to study at the Faculty of English Language and Literature at the Sorbonne-Nouvelle (Paris III).
His MA dissertation focused on ‘Turkish Foreign Policy since 1945 and Anglo-Turkish Relations’. His 5th year postgraduate diploma (D.EA.) was on ‘Les Relations Anglo-Turques 1945-1980’ and his Ph.D. thesis was on ‘Les Relations Anglo-Turques 1939-1980 et le Conflit Chypriote’.
His fully updated doctoral thesis was published in April 2022. The book written in French (with footnotes in English and French), is based on documents from the French and British archives.
He taught English at the Turco-British Association (ITBA) (Istanbul), the British Institute (Paris) and the University of London Institute (Paris). He also taught English, Business English and British Civilisation at the Catholic Institute (Paris) and at the Universities of Picardie Jules Verne (Amiens) and Paris-Dauphine.
He has published numerous English language textbooks and articles. He lives in the suburbs of Paris.
Title: ‘Anglo-Turkish Relations 1939-1980 and the Cyprus Strife’
Date: Tuesday 04 April 2023
Venue: Royal Anthropological Institute, 50 Fitzroy St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 5BT
Admission: The event is free to ATS members, and £10 to non-members. Concessions: students are £7.50. Alternatively, view with a Zoom stream link for £5.00.
Register via Eventbrite – click here to access