It took me some time to organize my mind…and figure out a way to express what i felt visiting Cyprus Island. I’ve been traveling to Larnaka last week, and i had the chance to visit a big part of the Island. And it’s wonderful. Not only for the people or the landscape: you feel a pulsing sense of history. Something stuck in time.
Cyprus is not only a “vacation island”. It’s not Greek. It’s considered to be a part of Europe but it’s still out of the Shengen area and you feel to be really at the borders of the occidental world. Just some history: On 16 August 1960, Cyprus attained independence after the Zürich and London Agreement between the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey. On 15 July 1974, 14 years later, the Greek military junta under Dimitrios Ioannides carried out a coup d’état in Cyprus, to unite the island with Greece.
Five days later, the Turkish army invaded the island, citing a right to intervene to restore the constitutional order from the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee. This justification has been rejected by the United Nations and the international community.
Turkish and Turkish/Cyprus Flag next to the Check Point in Nikosia
The Turkish air force began bombing Greek positions in Cyprus, and hundreds of paratroopers were dropped in the area between Nicosia and Kyrenia. International pressure led to a ceasefire, and by then 37% of the island had been taken over by the Turks and 180,000 Greek Cypriots had been evicted from their homes in the north.
At the same time, around 50,000 Turkish Cypriots moved to the areas under the control of the Turkish Forces and settled in the properties of the displaced Greek Cypriots.(*)
People there is torned up by the euro and global crisis. It remembered me about Italian people: very hard to unify, everybody has a different point of view. A lot of persons from the south considers themselves as Greeks (at least very linked to them), others cannot stand Greeks. Some are mad at UK’s dominion and their way to maintain Great Britain’s power there, others would like to have more help from them. One thing is sure: there is something deeply broken, marked by the deaths and war of 1974.
A lot of persons still cry thinking to what they have endured in 1974 and dream to have back their homes.
Even if there is not a wall like in Berlin, their Capital, Nikosia (or Lefkosia) is cut in two. The airport of the capital lies on the buffer zone and cannot be use since then.
You don’t feel a willing to fight. On the contrary, it appears that some improvements were done and there is a desire, at least from the politicians, to push to a unification of the island. (maybe because many are interested in the the largest gas deposit found in the triangle Israel-Egypt-South of Cyprus?….if yes, they will do this probably not respecting the population’s choice).
I was impressed to see that in a Britain military base near Larnaca, there was a petrol power plan: UK give to the south of Cyprus electric energy. At least a good part of it.
In a part of the Island, the road belongs to the UK, and on side you have Cyprus, and on the other side the Turkish part. Watchtowers on both side, and to draw the borders just black stakes all along the road.
In all this unresolved matters, you have tourists, especially from Russia and the Balkans, visiting and enjoying the sea. They go on the Turkish side to buy expensive copies of Occidental Fashion Brands (Copies of Louis Vuitton bags, Chanel, and so on…) and they don’t seem to care about the rest. I felt very uncomfortable in Kyrenia looking to these shops selling copies, and tourists concentrated more to find the best bag instead of looking to the Venetians walls, and all the history that Europe left these during the middle age.
(*) Datas taken from Wikipedia.