The gorgeous Isle of Cyprus is a popular destination for holiday makers from all over Europe especially the British. However not everyone knows that part of the country is under occupation by an invading army. In 1974 the Turkish army invaded the North of Cyprus and have been there ever since. They have announced the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or TRNC as it has also been called but sadly no other country in the world recognizes it. Actually most countries including those within the U.N. and the E.U run trade embargoes against North Cyprus. Air Travel to the North of the Island is also banned by most countries and tourist wishing to see there must fly into Turkey first.
The events in Cyprus leading up to the 1974 invasion were turbulent to say the least and some observers claim that the Turks used this as a justification. During the British occupation of the Island there was a powerful political movement towards”Enosis” or union with Greece which many Greek Cypriots considered to be their motherland. There was a long battle with the British for independence and out of this desire for Enosis was born EOKA or Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston translated in English to National Organization of Cypriot Fighters. These guerrilla fighters were heralded as national heroes in Cyprus’s struggle for independence and there are lots of monuments erected in their memory dotted around the Island. In 1971 after the overthrow of the government in Greece from the military junta EOKA b was formed in Cyprus with a renewed emphasis on Enosis with the mainland.
The final outcome of the struggle saw the formation of a coalition style government with representation by both Turkish and Greek Cypriots according to a percentage scale. The Greek Cypriots of course being in the majority, which led their Turkish compatriots to whine that they were under represented. In fact following suggested changes in the constitution the Turks withdrew from the Islands government amid a period of inter-communal violence and most of the Turkish Cypriot population retreated into defensive enclaves.
Thousands of Greek Cypriots were forced to flee their homes with only what they could carry leaving all their land and businesses behind. Even now (2007) these displaced Cypriots still consider themselves refugees and the Cyprus government shares their view. The Turkish authorities encouraged nationals to move to North Cyprus and has tens of thousands of it’s troops stationed there too. The border between the North and Southern Cyprus is patrolled by the United Nations peacekeeping force whilst the capital Nicosia remains the last divided city in the world. Since Turkey expressed her desire for ascension into the European Union that the”Cyprus problem” is beneath the global spot light and all those involved are attempting to work out a solution.
No one can predict how many issues of the long standing dispute will be settled but emotions on either side still run deep. Visitors to Cyprus especially the Famagusta area will see that many small business owners proudly display old photos of premises they left behind in 1974. The disputes over land being sold for development in North Cyprus also continues to add fuel to the political fire too. There’s little doubt that both sides still have a ways to go before they expect to see any solutions to the issues regarding the occupation of North Cyprus.