You are on page 1of 6


Early History
Famous for its copper resource around 3000 B.C., the island of Cyprus had seen many
invaders since then. Greek colonizers arrived in sizable numbers first after the end of the
Trojan War (1184 B.C) and secondly after several Greek poets and playwrights started to
mention the myth of Aphrodite’s influence on the island. According to the poets,
Aphrodite, the Grecian goddess of love and beauty, had been born out of sea foam at
Cyprus western coast, where Paphos is present day. Soon after that the cult of Aphrodite
was founded and many temples devoted to the goddess were built in Paphos.

Although, celebrated by its multi-cultural influences, Cyprus has been first and last,
always an outpost of the Hellenic world. But coveted by every powerful civilization in
reign, its has been taken throughout history first by Egypt, Persians, Alexander the Great,
Rome, the Byzantine Empire and invaded several times by the Arabs.

It would be, however, the Roman occupation that would have more influence on Cyprus.
For illustration, although the Roman’s main concern with the island was to exploit its
resources for the Roman treasury, the reign bought new technology, economic prosperity
and education to its inhabitors. Moreover, forgotten for many years, it was also the first
area of the Roman Empire to be governed by a Christian.

As history goes, when the apostle Paul arrived in Salamis in 45 A.D., the apostle
Barnabas, who was also a convert and a native of Salamis, arrived with him. As they
traveled the island at Paphos they converted not only the first Roman of noble birth but
also one who was the proconsul, Sergius Paulus.

It would be centuries later, however, that Cyprus would once exchange hands to another
empire. With Diocletian’s successor, Constantine, the island would eventually become
part of the Byzantium Empire, and be taken away from its Byzantine governor Isaac
Comnenus in 1191 by Richard the Lion Heart during the Third Crusade.

It was then with the transfer of Cyprus to Guy de Lusignan, the then ruler of the Latin
Kingdom of Jerusalem, because of debts owed by the Knights of Templar, that nearly a
eight hundred years of Byzantine rule would come to an end, as the Lusignan Dynasty
would establish a western feudal system in the isle of Cyprus for the next 300 years until
1468- 1489 A.D. when it was linked with Venetian rule by marriage and 1571-1878 A.D.
with the Ottoman Empire reigning.

The British Rule

It would be a while for British occupation to occur in Cyprus for it was until after the
sixteenth century, that the Ottoman’s military power would finally decline, and they
would be considered for many years to come as “the sick man of Europe.” This title,
unfortunately, for them, would be working against them for it is then that various nations
would then seek to profit at its expense and one of them would be the island’s population
majority-the Greek Cypriots.
When the British Empire was given Cyprus it had rejected it three times first in 1833,
1841 and 1845, before accepting it from the Ottoman’s in 1878. Nevertheless, it must be
noted that when Great Britain took over Cyprus administration, it had been due to both
the Ottoman Empire and the Great Powers fear that Russia would try to fill the power
vacuum by expanding west and south of Eastern Europe.

The Greek Cypriot administration had some opposition at the thought of British
colonization but it made its presence known with a speech given at Larnaca by the
Bishop of Kition, for the first British high commissioner stating how the British Empire
should expedite the unification of Cyprus to Greece as it had done to the Ionian Islands.
The British, nonetheless, refused to consider the Greek Cypriots lobby efforts for enosis.
(The idea of enosis is basically the idea of the island becoming a part of the Greek

This, furthermore, would not be the only time that Cyprus would cry for enosis or even
consider lobbying for it while under the British Empire. In demonstration, at the outbreak
of the First World War, the British annexed Cyprus and offered it to Constantine I of
Greece, in return for his support in the war. Nevertheless, while Eleftherios Venizelos,
the premier of Greece accepted the idea of enosis, the king rejected it and instead tried to
remain neutral during WWI.

It would be then after the offer lapsed, the Republic of Turkey was established in 1923
and the British finally declared Cyprus as a colony under the crown in 1925 that open
rebellions would become more violent. In 1931, for demonstration, a riot resulted in
several deaths and the burning of the British Governments House in Lefkosia. Due to
these revolts the crown would then over the years start to impose harsh restrictions on the
island. All political parties were banned, the constitution was suspended, martial law was
imposed, no nationalist parties were allowed and press censorship prevailed.

All the same, while British occupation restricted many of its inhabitants, it also bought
many benefits to the island. The economy prospered, money was brought for
modernization projects, an efficient civil service was put in place, hospitals were built,
roads were established to formally isolated towns, after WWII malaria was eliminated
and locusts were practically eradicated.

World War II and Postwar Nationalism in Cyprus

While claims for enosis were put on hold during WWII due to the fact that many Cypriots
joined the British Armed Forces, both sides knew that towards the end of the war talks
would have to be discussed for their political support during the war. Except for a series
of very limited air raids the island itself escaped the war unscathed, nonetheless, as it had
been two decades earlier the island was once again the center station for a super power to
supply, train and keep its naval station.

During the onset of the war, however, the British never made a move to restore or even
make a new constitution, seeing how its former one had been revoked in 1931.
Nonetheless, it would be after October of 1941, that after years of condemnation, political
parties were granted permission to form and without delay many political parties such as
the Cypriots communist party and national peasant organizations were formed.

The campaign towards enosis began on April 1, 1955 with the uprising of EOKA
(Ethniki Organosis Kyrprion Agoniston) founded by Cypriot native Colonel George
Grivas and Michael Mouskus, who was Archbishop Makarios III. The campaigns were a
series very well strategized military attacks against British police, military and other
government institutions in Limassol, Larnaca, Famagusta, and Nicosia. The results of
these riots were the resignation of many Greek Cypriots from the police force and the
replacement of the force by Turkish Cypriots.

Problems were approaching rapidly in the island and 1957 because of intercommunal
tensions between the Greeks and the Turks, the Turkish Cypriots formed the TMT (Turk
Mukavemet Teskilati) to fight the EOKA. The TMT was basically formed under the fear
that should enosis occur, the only way to protect the Turkish Cypriots interest and
identity was to divide the island (Taksim) in two with the Greek Cypriots living in one
side and the Turkish Cypriots in another.

Nevertheless, when talks for Cyprus independence began in 1958 no mention of enosis or
taksim ever happened. And even though the island was in the verge of a civil war, in
August 1960 after a series of talks in the Zurich-London Agreements, Cyprus achieved its

The Republic of Cyprus

The Republic of Cyprus was born out of a compromise. While many Greek Cypriots and
the EOKA were disappointed that enosis had not been possible, a constitutional
agreement was made that Cyprus was to become an independent republic with a Greek
Cypriot President and a Turkish Cypriot Vice-President.

The constitution was made effective on August 16, 1960, and the first general elections
for the House of Representatives were held in July 31 of that same year.
A month later the island became a member of the United Nations, in the spring a member
of the Commonwealth. And a year later in December he became an official member of
the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

No amount of independence, however, would ensure peace between the Turkish and
Grecian community living in Cyprus. After eight years of living under the British entity,
the Turkish Cypriots now had enough political power to content its colleges the Greek
Cypriots. Contention between the two parties had always been the under lying surface,
nevertheless, serious problems became arising when the integration of Turkish and Greek
Cypriots in the army would occur, Michael Mouskus, who was Archbishop Makarios III,
leader of the Greek Cypriots during the revolution against the British and Cyprus
President, wanted complete integration between the two communities in the nations
army, but Fazil Kucuk, Makarios Turkish Cypriot Vice President demanded for
segregation. And when the bill came to pass for Kuck’s vote in October 20, 1961, he
vetoed any integration between the Greek-Turkish Cypriots in the armed forces.
Intercommunal Violence 1963-1974
The tension between the two ethnic groups in the island was as tense as it could get in the
early sixties. From 1963 to 1967 there were some very bloody quarrels between the two
sides. Nonetheless, it would be in November of 1967 that would finally lead both sides to
segregate completely. What pulled the trigger was that even though Greek Cypriots had
seen a lot of intercommunal violence since 1964, the Turks began bombing Greek
Cypriot forces and declared their own provisional administration in the island.

Makarios, as expected denounced the new administration as illegal and it was there along
with many other Greek Cypriots that Makarios finally accepted that the unification of
Cyprus with Greece was unlikely to happen during the present crisis.

Over the next few years the EOKA-B, a pro-union organization would try to overthrow
Makarios from power. Nonetheless, with its leader General George Grivas’s death in
1974 and new administration in Greece under Brigadier General Dimitrios Ioannides in
1974, more division within the country would happen. Ioannides, who strongly believed
in enosis, headed a junta from Athens, and Makarios, fearing a future militaristic
dictatorship wrote a letter demanding the removal of all Greek troops from the island.
Ioannides, however, demanded the overthrow of Makarios, thus opening a path towards
more Turkish Cypriot resistance.

In demonstration, the Turks, supported by Turkish Cypriots, insisted on some form of

geographical separation between the Greeks and the Turks living in the island. And after
failing to gain any support from the British under the Treaty of Guarantee, ordered a
Turkish invasion on the island on July 20, 1974, that would end in the deaths of
thousands of Greek and Turkish Cypriots. This is what would eventually establish a
corridor between the two groups known as the UN Buffer Zone or the “green line.”

Over one hundred and forty-two thousand Greek Cypriots were displaced and would
eventually end up as refugees in their own country, while the Turkish Cypriots would
retain 36% of the island, 70% of the economic potential and just move to the northern
section of the island in order to comply with Turkey’s ethnic segregation laws.

Over the years, moreover, thousands of more Turkish citizens would settle on parts of the
island that used to belong to Greek Cypriots. And about forty three thousand Turkish
troops with innovate weapons continue to be quartered on the island illegally.
For under international law while northern Cyprus is considered an independent state
since 1983 by Turkey, it is not recognized by the United Nations (UN).

Post 1974 and Present

In the last few decades, however, the basic arguments for the Cyprus dispute have
changed. After talks of the European Union (EU) allowing accession negotiations, the
argument was made that because of its link with the countries history, Turkey would not
have a veto on Cypriot accession.
After talks to unify the country in 2004, the Annan Plan V was presented to both sides,
and after several revisions to the plan, the Republic of Cyprus would have become the
United Cyprus Republic which would have been a federation loosely made up of two
states. Each side would have its own parliament, and there would be a bicameral
parliament on the federal level. The senate would have consisted of equal parts of
members of the both ethnic groups. Nonetheless, many controversial issues arose against
the plan one of them mainly being the issue concerning property and the question of
Since 1974 up to present day there has been an ongoing occurrence where Greek Cypriots
are being evicted from their Turkish occupied villages and these who remain in those
places are mostly people over the age of sixty.

The plan, however, would be vetoed and in May of 2004, a week after the referendum,
Cyprus joined the EU, under the terms that the whole island is considered a member but
the bodies of EU’s laws are to be suspended in the northern section of the island that
corresponds to the Turkish Cypriots.

The Government of Cyprus

The Republic of Cyprus has been a member of the United Nations since 1960 and is also
a member of the Commonwealth, Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization,
Organization on Security and Co-Operation in Europe and the European Union.

According to the 1960 constitution, the President of Cyprus must be Greek and the vice
president a Turk. Under the law, moreover, both ethnic groups have equal representation
and civil rights in the island. However, because of the 1964 fighting outbreak, Turkish
representatives in the legislative branch withdrew their membership from the House of
Representatives and finally in 1967 the Turkish Cypriot administration announced its
own transitional administration to oversee the Turkish community in Cyprus.

For the Greek side of Cyprus a president is elected for a five year term. Fifty-six
members of the House of Representatives are elected also for five year terms and for the
last decades the provision that states that the vice president must be of Turkish origin, in
the constitution has been in disuse. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, however,
is only recognized by Turkey since 1983 and its president is elected also every five years,
appoints its Council of Ministers, and elects its legislative member for five year terms.

In Cyprus although all its citizens carry a Republic of Cyprus passport and live as
European citizens, all EU applications and laws are suspended in the northern Turkish
occupied part of Cyprus until unification or a resolution occurs. Nonetheless, the Cyprus
government does provide its Turkish Cyprian residents living in Greek occupied
territories free medical care, education and an array of services, even though doing so is
prohibited under the conditions of military occupation and division.

The Judicial System

The Cypriot legal system is much similar to that of the British judicial system. In both
the Greek and Turkish area’s the Supreme Court, who is the final appellate court and
authority in administrative and constitutional cases, also appoints judges to the six district
and assize courts. However, in the Turkish area, there are two communal courts as well as
communal appeals courts.

Political Parties
In the Greek community there have been several main political parties since 2001. They
have been the AKEL (Anorthotikon Komma Ergazaomenou Laou or the Progressive
Party of the Working People), the DIKO (Dimokratiko Komma or the Democratic Party),
the DISY (Dimokratikos Synagermos or the Democratic Rally) and the Orthodox Church
of Cyprus who also exercise some political power within the island.

The last elections in Cyprus have been fascinating for the fact that it was Tassos
Papadopoulos, a representative that helped draft the constitution of Cyprus that took
office as President of Cyprus in 2003. He was elected first of the Parliament of Cyprus in
1970, then president of the DIKO during the historic elections of 2000 and has long been
a representative of Greek Cypriots in intercommunal talks.

Local Government
There are six administrative districts in the island; Kyrenia, Limassol, Nicosia, Paphos
and Famagusta. The Turkish areas include Kyrenia, and several small parts of Larnaca,
Nicosia and Famagusta. Chief towns and larger villages are managed by elected
municipal corporations and the smaller villages are managed by a headman and elders.
Since the 1960’s the Turkish communities have managed their own areas and have a civil