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State

Capital

Cyprus

Levkosia

Nicosia

Currency unit

euro

Connections

Empire

 EU

Greece

Levant

North Cyprus

Ottomans

War

War2

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History

An island off the coast of Turkey. Its history stretches back to the ancient world and it has featured in ancient Greek mythology (as the birthplace of the mythical Aphrodite). It was a Roman province, then Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman. Richard Coeur de Lion conquered it from the Seljuk Turks in 1191. Then it was under Genoa, then Venice from 15th century. The Ottoman Turks conquered it in 1573. During the 18th and 19th centuries there were revolts by the Greeks living there. In 1878 it was leased to the British, first as a temporary measure, then from 1914 Britain annexed it as a colony. It was part of Britain's system of defending the route to India and of controlling the Middle East. The majority of the people speak Greek but there has been a large minority of Turkish speakers, Muslim by religion. Some are the descendants of converts from Orthodoxy during the Turkish occupation.

It became independent in 1960 after a guerrilla war against the British in which a Greek guerrilla force (EOKA) campaigned for union with Greece. However, the large Turkish minority made it impossible to allow the island to become part of Greece (and Turkey is closer than Greece).

Independence came under a constitution with reserved rights for the Turks but with the Greek Archbishop Makarios as President. Greece, Turkey and Britain guaranteed the constitution against invasion. Britain retained certain areas as Sovereign military enclaves. Soon after independence the Greek Cypriots refused to allow the Turks to exercise their rights and the Turks withdrew from government.

There were incidents in which Greeks attacked Turks in mixed villages and in predominantly Turkish villages. These seemed to amount to a campaign encouraged, or not discouraged, by the government, to drive the Cypriot Turks out of the island.

The crisis came in 1973 when a violent Greek group under the leader of the original guerrilla movement, Grivas, overthrew the government with the assistance of the Military dictatorship of Greece and announced that Cyprus was to become united to Greece. The government he set up was composed of thugs, described by some reporters as Psychopathic killers.

The Turkish army invaded almost at once. British military help from the British bases helped restore Makarios. The Turks then took a part of northern Cyprus (37%) and proclaimed it to be a separate republic. The Greeks living in the north -180,000 - were driven out to become refugees in the southern part, which has retained the title of Republic of Cyprus but is now wholly Greek in population. The Turks in the south - 30,000 - fled to the north.

The capital is divided with a frontier through which very few people pass. A United Nations peacekeeping force prevents fighting resuming.

Many believe that the United States had a role in these troubles. There may have been collusion between the CIA and the military government of Greece to bring Cyprus into NATO as a part of Greece, or possibly to eliminate what was seen as a left wing government in Cyprus (though few outsiders would have described it as left wing). The conclusion on these questions must await examination of the documents.

Cyprus remains important in the Middle East as a relatively peaceful base with good communications with the rest of the world. It is seen as neutral between Arabs and Israelis and between Christian Lebanese and their opponents.

Reunification of the island in the near future seems unlikely. The most that seems possible is some kind of loose confederation between the two states. But Turkey seems to have a policy of maintaining the status quo. Mainland Turks have been encouraged to settle there and it is in practice a province of Turkey. As long as the peacekeeping force remains, the two sides are unlikely to fight but fighting would probably break out if the UN force were removed. As the UN is short of money and there are now many other more active conflicts there is pressure to remove the expensive UN force. However, this might be unwise.

In August 1996 the dispute showed signs of reviving when Greek Cypriots tried to enter the Turkish zone and some were killed.

Negotiations with the EU resulted in an agreement for Cyprus to join in the next group of new members. However, Greece has threatened to veto entry unless the dispute with Turkey is solved. Turkey has threatened to annexe the north if Greek Cyprus alone joins. Therefore intensive negotiations began in early 2002 which might result in a Confederation of the two parts of the island joining. This was supposed to occur in March 2003 but did not. The Greek part has now joined the EU without the Turkish part.

The frontier has been opened.

Languages

Greek

Turkish

English

 History

 Economics

 Green

 Rights

Politics

There is a multi-party system with an elected president and a parliament. Actual change of party has occurred, as in February 1993 election when Glafcos Clerides replaced George Vassilou.

Clerides was defeated in 2003. With him probably went the chance of agreement on confederation.

 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

Economics

Agriculture, tourism, financial services.

Cyprus adopted the euro in January 2008

Serious financial crisis in March 2013 when the euro is threatened by relations with Russia (the rouble). Russians attempting avoid taxes in their own country have been buying euros and putting them in banks in Cyprus. This has distorted the markets there.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Rights

Green/Ecology

Serious lack of water already (2010). Proposed solution is to import water from Turkey via a pipeline, but there are obvious political problems - the Greeks do not wish to be dependent on Turkey for their water. Desalination has also been proposed but this will use oil and cause carbon emissions, and be expensive.

 History

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

Human Rights

Climate effects

Last revised 20/03/12


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