Geoff Hazel - Face off and cribbing
While I was there, the second tour had all changed. Not only was the place bigger and the roads were tremendously better, because the Turks built a four-lane road, but it was mainly designed to be an airstrip in case they needed it. So when the Greeks saw it, they built one, and then they built more. But the second tour, it had changed. And well, to start with, the general was no longer the boss.
We now had a chief of mission civilian. So all of a sudden, little issues weren't as easy to resolve as they used to be. Like one example, on the first tour, one of the jobs of the military was to make sure no fortifications were moved forward at all, or had extra fortification put on. They could replace what was there, but not add to it. And there was one in the Canadian area where they started to dig a trench, just a slit trench, but it was five feet forward from the line.
So the Canadian battalion centre section up there told them to move it back and they didn't. So all of a sudden, they had a platoon of Greek Cypriot national guard there confronting the Canadians. So the Canadians sent a platoon and gradually built up. So eventually we had a better battalion with a couple of tanks on the Greek Cypriot side and the armour personnel carriers on the UN side facing off each other. But the one thing that was happening at night, all the Greek Cypriot national guard went home, and then came back next morning.
So on one particular night, the general and the battalion command just said, "Put a bulldozer and fill it in," and they did. Came back and they said, "Oh, okay. All over." That was it. Second tour, a similar thing in a slightly different area, but a similar thing. This time, the Turk's trying to move forward, and no you can't confront, because we're now run by a politician or diplomat. We will negotiate.
Well, when I'd left for about five months later, the damn thing was still there and they'd actually moved it forward even further. Now, fortunately, it was in an area where the Greek Cypriots couldn't see, it because it was only up against a UN post. But if the Greek Cypriots had known that they'd moved forward, there would've been a lot of hell raised. But getting a decision out of a politician diplomat was not easy. So things had changed in that respect.