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 Cyprus History

Cyprus was the site of early Phoenician and Greek colonies. For centuries its rule passed through many hands. It fell to the Turks in 1571, and a large Turkish colony settled on the island.

In World War I, at the outbreak of hostilities with Turkey, Britain annexed the island. It was declared a Crown colony in 1925. For centuries the Greek population, regarding Greece as its mother country, has sought self-determination and reunion with Greece (enosis). The resulting quarrel with Turkey threatened NATO. Cyprus became an independent nation on Aug. 16, 1960, with Britain, Greece, and Turkey as guarantor powers.

Archbishop Makarios, president since 1959, was overthrown on July 15, 1974, by a military coup led by the Cypriot National Guard. The new regime named Nikos Giorgiades Sampson as president and Bishop Gennadios as head of the Cypriot Church to replace Makarios. Diplomacy failed to resolve the crisis. Turkey invaded Cyprus by sea and air on July 20, 1974, asserting its right to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority. Geneva talks involving Greece, Turkey, Britain, and the two Cypriot factions failed in mid-Aug., and the Turks subsequently gained control of 40% of the island. Some 180,000 Greek Cypriots were uprooted by the Turkish troops.Greece made no armed response to the superior Turkish force but bitterly suspended military participation in the NATO alliance. The tension continued after Makarios returned to become president on Dec. 7, 1974. He offered self-government to the Turkish minority, but rejected any solution “involving transfer of populations and amounting to partition of Cyprus.”

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Turkish Cypriots proclaimed a separate state under Rauf Denktash in the northern part of the island on Nov. 15, 1983, naming it the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.” The UN Security Council, in its Resolution 541 of Nov. 18, 1983, declared this action illegal and called for withdrawal. No country except Turkey has recognized this illegal entity.

In 1988, George Vassiliou,became president. The purchase of missiles capable of reaching the Turkish coast evoked threats of retaliation from Turkey in 1997, and Cyprus's plans to deploy more missiles in Aug. 1999 again raised Turkey's fire.

The continued strife between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots threatened Cyprus's potential EU membership—it had in fact met all the economic standards—and provided a great incentive to both sides to resolve their differences. UN-sponsored talks between the Greek and Turkish leaders, Kleridas and Denktash, continued intensively in 2002, but without resolution. In Dec. 2002, the EU invited Cyprus to join in 2004, provided the UN plan was accepted by February 2003. But just weeks before the UN deadline, Kleridas was defeated by right-wing candidate Tassos Papadopoulos in presidential elections. Papadopoulos has a reputation as a hard-liner on reunification—he's rejected all previous UN attempts to reunify Cyprus.

The UN deadline passed, and by mid-March, the UN declared that the talks had failed, and it appeared that only the Greek side of the island would join the EU in 2004.

             Cyprus History Image


9, Gregori Afxentiou Ave, P.O. Box 41003, under Frangiorgio Hotel, Larnaca - Cyprus
Tel: +357 24 655800 Fax: +357 24 627346, Email:
info@cyprusproperties.com.cy , Website : http://www.cyprusproperties.com.cy
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