The gorgeous Island of Cyprus is a popular destination for holiday makers from all around Europe especially the British. However not everyone knows that part of the country is under occupation by an invading army. They have announced the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus or TRNC since it has also been called but unfortunately no other country in the world recognizes it. In fact most countries including those inside 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 states and tourist wishing to visit there should fly into Turkey first.
The events in Cyprus leading up to the 1974 invasion were turbulent to say the least and some observers assert that the Turks used this as a justification. During the British occupation of the Island there was a strong political movement 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 the 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 liberty and there are several monuments erected in their memory dotted around the Island. In 1971 following the overthrow of the authorities 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 the struggle saw the creation of a coalition style government with representation by both Greek and Turkish Cypriots in accordance with a percentage scale. The Greek Cypriots of course being in the majority, which directed their Turkish compatriots to complain that they were 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 supporting. Even today (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 thousands of it’s troops stationed there also. 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 trying to work out a solution.
Nobody can predict how many issues of the long standing dispute will be settled but emotions on both sides still run deep. Visitors to Cyprus especially the Famagusta area will notice that many small business owners proudly display old photographs 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 property. There is little doubt that both sides still have a ways to go before they expect to see any solutions to the issues concerning the occupation of North Cyprus.