Taking Care of Business: Canada’s Forgotten Cold War Conflict in Cyprus, July-August, 1974

David A. Kielstra


Canada’s response to the Cyprus crisis of 1974 represents a little known event in Canadian Cold War peacekeeping history. Following a coup on the island, two NATO allies were on the verge of war while the United Nation’s Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) wrestled to deal with the unfolding crisis. This paper places the experiences of Canada’s contingent in UNFICYP alongside Canada’s domestic response for a holistic assessment of Canada’s Cyprus actions. Unique material including veteran interviews, diplomatic documents, and UN radio logs also provide a more personal narrative. It was determined that the more robust form of peacekeeping practiced in Cyprus was a key measure to prevent further violence. Canada’s decision to dramatically bolster its UNFICYP presence through reinforcements and heavy weaponry also challenges the long-held assumption of a Trudeau-era withdrawal from international commitments. The Cyprus crisis clearly represents an assertive step forward for Canadian peacemaking on the world stage during the Cold War.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.