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Modern History of Cyprus
2001-09-05 23:49:58

British rule lasted until August 1960 when, after a four-year liberation struggle, the island became independent and was proclaimed a Republic. The 1960 Constitution of the Cyprus Republic proved unworkable in many of its provisions and this made impossible its smooth implementation.

When in 1963 the President of the Republic proposed some amendments to facilitate the functioning of the state, the Turkish Cypriot community responded with rebellion (December 1964), the Turkish Cypriot Ministers withdrew from the Cabinet and the Turkish Cypriot public servants ceased attending their offices. Ever since then the aim of the Turkish Cypriot leadership, acting on instructions from the Turkish Government, has been the partition of Cyprus and its annexation to Turkey.

On July 15, 1974 a coup was staged in Cyprus by the military junta, then in power in Greece, for the overthrow of the then President of Cyprus, Archbishop Makarios. Turkey used this pretext to launch an invasion, with a full-fledged army against defenseless Cyprus on July 20, 1974. The invasion was carried out in two stages (July 20-22 and August 14-16), in which the Turkish troops eventually occupied 37% of the island’s territory.

Nearly two hundred thousand Greek Cypriots, 40% of the total Greek Cypriot population, were forced to leave their homes in the occupied area and became refugees in their own country. The few thousand of Greek Cypriots who remained in their homes after the invasion were gradually forced, through harassment and intimidation, to leave their homes and move to the south. Now, only about six hundred have remained in their homes in the north, mainly in the Karpass area. Hundreds of people were reported missing and their fate has still not been ascertained. The island’s rich cultural and religious heritage in the occupied areas has been looted and/or destroyed.

International bodies, such as the UN Security Council, the European Parliament, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Commonwealth and the Council of Europe, have condemned these ongoing violations of the fundamental human rights of the people of Cyprus. Despite this international condemnation, repeated UN Security Council Resolutions, calling for the respect of the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as the withdrawal of all foreign troops from its territory, remain unimplemented.

Several rounds of intercommunal talks between the island’s two main communities (Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots) have not led to any positive development. This is due to the Turkish side’s intransigence and continuing effort to partition the island by means of maintaining an occupation army of 40.000 soldiers and by the colonization of the occupied part of Cyprus with over 80,000 settlers from Anatolia.

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