I can’t believe we have now been living in Cyprus for 2 and half years. It still feels like we have just arrived in certain instances and in others it feels like we have lived here forever.
Thought I would just start with a brief introduction to the country and over the next few months reveal more of the rich history and culture of our beautiful island home.
A former British colony, Cyprus gained it’s independence in 1960 following years of resistance to British rule. British forces retained two Sovereign Base Areas with the rights to use 13 other sites on the island, in order to keep strategic location at the eastern end of the Mediterranean, for use as a staging point for forces sent to locations in the Middle East and Asia.
Tensions between the Greek Cypriot majorities and Turkish Cypriot minorities came to a head in December 1963, when violence broke out in the capital of Nicosia. Despite the deployment of UN peacekeepers in 1964, sporadic intercommunal violence continued, forcing most Turkish Cypriots into enclaves throughout the island.
On 15, July 1974, a military coup d’état executed by the Cypriot National Guard and sponsored by the Greek government, removed the current Cypriot President Archbishop Makarios 111 from office and installed pro-Enosis nationalist Nikos Sampson. The aim was to unify the island with Greece.
This provided Turkey with the pretext it was seeking to evade Cyprus, using the protection of the Turkish Cypriots, who made up about 18% of the population. On 20 July 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus, violating all rules of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations. Many Greek Cypriots see this as the day time stopped for Cyprus, a day of infamy when the course of the nation’s history changed forever.
At 5:30am war sirens signified the descent of hell upon the beautiful country of Cyprus. About 40,000 Turkish troops were involved in “Operation Attila”. Cyprus’ summer skies turned black after Turkish warplanes bombarded the area of Kyrenia to Nicosia, killing hundreds of civilians before their ground troops completed the massacre. Turkey referred to their invasion as a ”peaceful intervention”. The Turkish invasion was done in two phases by Aug 1974 they controlled more than a third of the island. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots’ declared the occupied territory as the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (“TRNC”), however, this is only recognised by Turkey.
Cyprus had been split in 2 with Greek Cypriots fleeing to the south, becoming refugees in their own country. A ceasefire was declared on 14 August and a buffer zone was set up dividing the north and the south, which is permanently controlled by UN peace keeping forces.
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