Cyprus

Cyprus has been a war zone – there has only been a cease-fire and none of the traumas people went through in 1958, 1963-64 or 1974 have ever been treated on a systematic basis.

—Sevgul Uludag[1]

A map showing the division of Cyprus

Cyprus is an island in the Levant region of the Mediterranean Sea.

It is de facto, but not de jure,[2] divided into two states: the Republic of Cyprus in the south (a member of the European Union); and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in the north (recognised by Turkey).

In the present, Cyprus is one of the most religious[3] countries in the EU. It is also deeply racist, sexist, and homophobic[4][5]. Specifically, the TRNC legalised homosexual sex in 2014,[6] the last part of the European Union to do so.

Militarisation

As of 2014, Cyprus is the 3rd most militarised country in Europe and the 6th most militarised in the world.[7]

Even though it is a small island, due to its tumultuous history, it has five armies deployed on it:

  1. The British army. The UK controls parts of Cyprus as "sovereign base areas"
  2. The United Nations army. Their peacekeeping forces on the island are called UNFICYP (United Nations forces in Cyprus). They control the no mans land separating the Republic and the TRNC.
  3. The Greek army. Greek forces in Cyprus represent the influence they have been granted by the British as a guarantor power.
  4. The Turkish army. Similarly, to the Greek army, they represent the guarantor power. Although, they are also seen as an enemy combatant to the Republic of Cyprus as no peace agreement has been reached.
  5. The Cypriot Republic's army. This is the only army of one of the nations which are actually Cypriot.

Ethnic, religious, and linguistic segregation

Flag of the Republic of Cyprus.
Flag of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
Potential diplomatic, legal and financial gains all advocate in favour of reunification, but political trust still eludes the two communities. The occupation can be withdrawn, but can Cypriots overcome the separate Greek and Turkish nationalisms that have nurtured them for so long?

—John Psaropoulos, Al Jazeera[8]

Cyprus is ethnically,[wp] religiously,[wp] and linguistically[wp] diverse in terms of both native and immigrant populations. The two most populous native groups have ethnic ("Greek Cypriot", "Turkish Cypriot"), religious (Christian, Muslim), and linguistic (Cypriot Greek, Cypriot Turkish) identities that tightly correlate. This is because during Ottoman rule, some Cypriots chose to work for the state and in so doing converted to Islam, and learned Turkish. Thus, during British colonial rule, the label "Turkish Cypriots" was created in order to divide and conquer. Neither of the groups actually have Greek or Turkish ethnic roots, notwithstanding present attempts to Hellenise or Turkify the two communities using mainlanders, propaganda, (biased) education, and so on.

From the end of the Ottoman rule, through the British, and into the present ethnic, religious, and linguistic segregation of native Cypriots has dramatically increased. Cypriots, both "Turkish" and "Greek", have been living in apartheid. Communities across the island went from diverse in the 1890s, to ghettoised in the 1970s. Purpose-built ghettos for approximately 18% of the population (the "Turkish Cypriot" minority) were created. Their movement was controlled by the Republic until the Turkish invasion in 1974.

"[Turkish Cypriot] Aysel, 16 years old [in 1964] and four months pregnant, had just learned that her husband had been kidnapped[.] She grabbed the village mukhtar’s rifle, determined to defend her home, find her husband and avenge his kidnap."[9]

One of the peaks of the ethnic tensions was on the 20th of July 1974 when Turkey invaded. "The invasion marked the only occasion when one NATO ally fought another - and it remains the only occupation on EU soil. "[8] The Turkish invasion caused thousands from both communities to flee their homes and lose their properties. However, the neocolonialist geopolitical actions of Turkey did have the side-effect of liberating the "Turkish Cypriots" from oppression. As being both an economic underclass and ethnic/religious/linguistic minority, they had little hope of achieving fair treatment. The constitution drafted by the British, after granting Cyprus independence, was (and still is) extremely racist and biased in its treatment of the two communities.

Until very recently, 2003 when some checkpoints along the borders opened, the "Turkish" and "Greek" Cypriot communities have had no direct physical access to each other on the island. Their lands are separated by the Green Line (a no man's land controlled by the UN, and as delimited by the British). Such strict segregation has inevitably lead to tensions and further segregation.

External links

Footnotes