Anyone can tell you that in traveling to a region you will develop a new interest in that region’s modern history. The area is now “on your map” and you can understand things that were formerly of little personal significance. The observation has been made many times that Israel’s mention in the news of the US is disproportionate to its size. But I wonder if part of the reason for that is that many Americans (both Jews and Christians) have visited Israel. Some people are interested in Israel simply because it’s the biblical land, but I would guess that having visited (or having family) there is an even greater reason.
On Cyprus, the major event in modern history was the invasion of the northern half of the island by Turkey in 1974. This issue was relatively unknown to me before this trip, so it was interesting to watch my thinking on the subject evolve as I was exposed to more information. After one day in the southern half of the country, esp. southern Nicosia, it was very easy to emphatize with the Greeks who had lost so much in the invasion. The signs they had posted there as we crossed over to the North were very bold and graphic. Clearly the Turks were animals who deserved the condemnation of the world. But after spending a day in the North and reading and thinking more about the situation, I became convinced that there was a very real other side to the story.
I still don’t know a lot, but I can also make some conclusions based on my experience with other conflicts in the world and in history. This is also true given what the world and UN have (and have not!) done since the invasion. Yes, it’s true that no other country in the world has recognized the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (thus the Turks were in the wrong), but it’s also true that much more significant pressure could have been applied if the world/UN had thought it necessary (let alone discuss EU entry). But they saw it too – there were injustices on both sides. Yes, the Turks took away land of the Cypriots, but yes, the Turks were not treated well by some of their Greek neighbors.
Ultimately, I think it’s like a lot of regional conflicts – there are many losers and most of them are not the ones who personally deserve the loss.
2 thoughts on “Island of Cyprus #4 (Modern Conflict)”
Todd, thanks for this series of posts on your trip to Cyprus. Something you have not yet mentioned (unless I overlooked it) is the role of Cyprus in Israel’s independence back in 1948-9 with its concentration camps. Not exactly the same as the Nazi version, in that the Cyprus camps were more like holding stations. I was not really aware of this history until I began collecting LMLK postage stamps. Examples:
Postcard commemorating the end of the detainee camps with postmark showing the island’s outline
Ship cachet welcoming the refugees
Island map marking each of the camps:
Nicosia (capital with hospital)
Karaolos (Caraulas; Hdqrs. #1; summer refugee detention camps #55, 60-63)
Famagusta (reception port)
Xylotymbou (Xylotymvou; Hdqrs. #3; refugee detention camps #69-70)
Dhekelia (Hdqrs. #2; winter refugee detention camps #64-68)
The Paul Newman movie, “Exodus”, depicts some of this history. Besides Nicosia, did you tour any of these other sites?
I wonder what Todd would have concluded today if the Turks invaded and took over Scotland in 1974.
In Cyprus there are Greek (84%) and Turkish (15%) Cypriots. Before 1960 it was a British colony. Needless to say the British used “Devide and conquer”, just as they did to the American colonies, Arabs and Jews, Indians and Pakistanis, etc, etc to keep their bases and interests in place.
When the population wanted independence they instigated trouble between the two communities and with the help of a few traitors and paid agents from both sides crteated hatred in a population that lived together without many issues before that.
Of course Turkey, Greece, the USA and NATO wanted a piece of thee action and their bases there so the schemed to devide the island between two NATO alies, Greece and Turkey and have the British bases (15% of the island) as well. When Turkey invated it decided screw the rest (as it usually does) and took over 40% of the island, not just a land bridge connecting a Turkish enclave to the ocean.
The hunta in Greece fell and the country became democratic for the first time since the ancient times. No kings, no dictators, no junta.
Turkey remains the same. A muslim nation in denial, a military junta in real control, playing the good guy bad guy game with the world. The US needs them to support Israel, but I fear they are the next Iran.
Cyprus because of the treason and abuse from the West supported the Arabs but as always happens the arabs turned around and betrayed Cyprus because Turks are Muslim. Now Cyprus is a member of the EU and Turkey is trying to get in.
As for the occupied areas. Our land is not inhabitted by Turks, but by thieving Europeans who go and buy stolen land at basement prices. They fall off the back of the Turkish Truks.
Germans in my grandmothers house, Belgians in a villa build on our olive garden, British in condos build on our orange orcharts, etc, etc. Churches turned into mosques, stolen icons sold off to the rich, arabs buying hotels.
We are all fools because it is not about religion, language or nationality, it is about money. Dog eat dog.
Lets see who is next. Remember yeasterday it was me, tomorrow it could be you! Try to be on the winning side. But which is that? Or just give up and be HUMAN.