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’ve declared the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or TRNC since it’s also been called but unfortunately no other country in the world recognizes it. In fact 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 can be banned by most states and tourist wishing to see there must fly into Turkey first.
The events in Cyprus leading to the 1974 invasion were themselves turbulent to say the least and some observers assert that the Turks used this as an excuse. During the British occupation of the Island there was a strong political move towards”Enosis” or union with Greece which many Greek Cypriots considered to be their motherland. There was a long struggle 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 several monuments erected in their memory dotted around the Island. In 1971 following the overthrow of the government in Greece by the military junta EOKA b was formed in Cyprus with a renewed emphasis on Enosis with the mainland.
The final outcome of this struggle saw the creation of a coalition style government with representation by both Greek and Turkish Cypriots according to a percentage scale. The Greek Cypriots of course being in the majority, which led their Turkish compatriots to whine that they had been under represented. The truth is following suggested changes in the constitution the Turks withdrew from the Islands government amid a period of inter-communal violence and many 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 opinion. The Turkish authorities encouraged nationals to move to North Cyprus and contains thousands of it’s troops stationed there too. Since Turkey expressed her desire for ascension into the European Union that the”Cyprus problem” is under the global spot light and all those involved are trying to work out a solution.
Nobody can predict how the many issues of this long standing dispute will be settled but emotions on both sides still run deep. Visitors to Cyprus notably the Famagusta area will notice that lots of small business owners proudly display old photos of assumptions they left behind in 1974. The disputes over property being sold for development in North Cyprus also continues to add fuel to the political fire too. A new generation has grown up on the Turkish side of the border and they feel like they belong there whilst those from the South still lay claim to the land. There’s little doubt that both sides still have a long way to go before they expect to see any answers to the issues concerning the occupation of North Cyprus.