The Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus is the homeland of two distinct peoples: the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. Their relationship is not one of a majority and minority, but one of equal partnership. The Turkish Cypriots speak Turkish, are Muslims and share the culture of their motherland, Turkey. The Greek Cypriots, on the other hand, speak Greek, are Orthodox Christians and profess the culture of their motherland Greece. After more than 300 years of Turkish rule, the island came under British influence in 1878, but sovereignty was formally transferred by Turkey to Britain in 1923. British colonial administration continued until 1960 when as a joint bi-communal state, the DRepublic of Cyprus was founded under international treaties, signed by Great Britain, Greece and Turkey, and by the leaders of both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities in their separate capacities. The 1960 arrangements created a political partnership between the two national communities which would enable them to share power and cooperate in a bi-communal state, with the necessary checks and balances and guarantees. Unfortunately, this political partnership and the internationally sanctioned regime lasted only three years.
The Greek Cypriots continued unlawfully to campaign against a bi-communal independent state and on 21 December 1963 put into effect their plan for a general onslaught on the Turkish Cypriot community. The aim was to abrogate the constitution of the country through the use of force and bring about ENOSIS (annexation of Cyprus to Greece). Turkish Cypriot members of the joint Parliament and the joint Government were expelled from their offices, the entire state machinery being unilaterally usurped by the Greek Cypriots. The brutality of Greek attacks was such that the Turkish Cypriot people in no less than 103 villages had to escape for their lives into the security of small enclaves scattered all over Cyprus and an extensive refugee problem was created as a result of Greek Cypriot attacks on Turkish Cypriots throughout the island. The Turkish Cypriots became virtual prisoners and hostages in their own land. The United Nations Secretary-General described this situation as a veritable siege. From 1964 until 1974, Turkish Cypriot people lived under difficult conditions in isolated enclaves, but they lived under their own rule. On 15 July 1974 Greece staged a coup in Cyprus with the aim of achieving ENOSIS. Turkey, one of the three guarantor states, called on Britain as the other guarantor for joint intervention under Article 4 of the Treaty of Guarantee. When Britain refrained, Turkey was compelled to intervene on her own, again in full accordance with the provisions of the said Treaty. Since then, peace and tranquility have prevailed on the island.
Division of the Island 1964
Turkish Cypriot families, forced to flee from their homes, withdrew into enclaves for mutual protection. This unprovoked Greek Cypriot use of force brought about the division of the island symbolized by the “Green line” in Nicosia. A joint political authority that could speak on behalf of both communities ceased to exist. But the Greek Cypriots, having overthrown by force the joint State and government, continued unlawfully to usurp the titles of the bi-communal State.
United Nations Intervention 1964
The U.N. tried to mediate, but Greek Cypriots would not allow Turkish Cypriots back into their legitimate positions in the Republic unless they abandoned fundamental constitutional safeguards. U.N. Peace-Keeping Force sent to the island in 1964 was unable to protect the Turkish Cypriots against Greek Cypriot elements who were supported by some 20,000 mainland Greek forces clandestinely sent to the island.
Turkish Cypriots Held Hostage for Eleven Years 1963-1974. For the next eleven years, Turkish Cypriots were held hostage in their own land without representation in a joint government or participation in a joint administration in contravention of the 1960 Treaties. Turkish Cypriot pleas for protection and assistance were basically ignored by the international community and the U.N. during those eleven years.
Peace-Keeping Force proved largely ineffective in providing security to the Turkish Cypriots. The British House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs reported in July 1987: “There is little doubt that much of the violence which the Turkish Cypriots claim led to the total or partial destruction of 103 Turkish villages and the displacement of about a quarter of the total Turkish Cypriot population, was either directly inspired or certainly connived at by the Greek Cypriot leadership.” The Turkish Cypriots never accepted the Greek Cypriot fait accompli of December 1963, and in the exercise of their right to self-defense, started to establish in stages a separate Turkish Cypriot administration in order to protect themselves from constant threats, and to take care of the political, economic and social needs of their own community.