Saturday, 12 July 2014

A forgotten occupation: Cyprus

File:Cyprus districts named.png
Map: Wikimedia

Forty years ago this month Turkey invaded Northern Cyprus. The BBC archive reminds us:

Thousands of Turkish troops have invaded northern Cyprus after last-minute talks in the Greek capital, Athens, failed to reach a solution.

Tension has been running high in the Mediterranean island since a military coup five days ago in which President Archbishop Makarios, a Greek Cypriot, was deposed.

The coup led to fears among the Turkish Cypriot community that the Greek-backed military rulers would ignore their rights and press for unification for Cyprus with Greece or enosis.

Archbishop Makarios became the republic's first elected president in 1959 only after agreeing to give up plans for a union with Greece.

A Turkish armada of 33 ships, including troop transporters and at least 30 tanks and small landing craft, has landed on the northern coast.

The outcome which remains the case today is:

....Turkish forces advanced to take control of nearly 40% of the island.

About 160,000 Greek Cypriots fled south or were expelled - about 50,000 Turkish Cypriots moved north a year later.

Talks to settle the crisis diplomatically failed. In February 1975, the Turks announced the establishment of the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus, with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash becoming president. Eight years later they declared themselves an independent state which is recognised only by Turkey.

All this took place in the context of both nations being run by military Juntas. Zaynep G, a Marxist writes:

With the coup d'état of April 21, 1967, Greece entered a dark period under the rule of the Colonels' Junta. When the Junta rejected US requests to use Greek airports during the Arab-Israeli War of 1973, a counter coup d'etat took place on November 25, 1973 against the former junta, which had lost the support of the US. And on July 15, 1974, a fascist coup d'état, led by Sampson, was carried out in Cyprus against the regime of Makarios, which was an attempt to set up a fascist-type administration. But five days after the coup, on July 20, 1974, Turkey invaded the North-Eastern part of the island and on July 23, both juntas in Greece and Cyprus collapsed.

Of course that was then. And the world around has changed. The Junta's are long gone, Communism has collapsed world wide. New threats to world stability have arisen, particularly that of religious fundamentalism has taken its place.

Meanwhile the whole issue of Cyprus has fallen well off the political radar of most, myself included until today when the following was drawn to my attention on Face Book:



The President of the National Federation of Cypriots in the United Kingdom, Peter Droussiotis, today called on British Cypriots and everyone who supports justice and human rights, to voice a collective call for a free, united Cyprus at a rally in Trafalgar Square on Sunday 13th July.

Urging the need for Cypriots to turn out in force to remind the world of the landmark 40th anniversary of the invasion of Cyprus, Mr Droussiotis urged the Cypriot diaspora and friends of the island to make clear to Prime Minister David Cameron and the wider international community the strength of opposition to Turkey’s continuing military occupation.

Read the rest: here

Hat tip: Jonny Paul.

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