Brief History of Cyprus - page 3


The Turkish Period
Though Cyprus on the whole became less prosperous under Ottoman rule, there were certain immediate benefits. Serfdom was abolished and the rights of the Greek Orthodox Church, which had been suppressed since the Franks, were restored.
However, there was very harsh rule and harsh taxation which impoverished the people, and there were continual revolts. In 1821 an attempt by Cypriots to support the Greeks in their revolt against Ottoman rule was brutally crushed, with the Archbishop being publicly hanged and many others, including three bishops, put to death.
Cyprus remained under Ottoman rule until 1878 when, with the Treaty of Berlin, the Sultan in his effort to secure British support in his conflict with the Russians leased Cyprus to Great Britain. Then in 1914, following the entry of Turkey in World War I on the side of Germany, the British government  annexed Cyprus and turned it into a Crown colony in 1925. In the meantime Turkey surrendered all claim on Cyprus with the Lausanne Treaty it concluded with Greece in 1923.

The British Period
The British rule left its mark on the island's complex culture with the adoption by the people Cyprus of some of the customs of their colonial masters, the legacy of some British colonial buildings, and, most importantly, the tradition of the British administration especially in the civil service.

Cypriots fought alongside the allies against fascism and nazism during World War II. The British, however, refused keep their word and offer the island the right of self determination at the end of the war. There followed the Enosis referendum of 1950,  when 96% of Greek Cypriots voted for Enosis,  Union with Greece. In April 1955 the EOKA Liberation Struggle, against the colonial rulers, under the leadership of the colonel Georgios Grivas Dighenis, resulted in the granting of independence to the island on the basis of the Zurich and London Agreements of February 1959.

Independence and invasion
The independent Republic of Cyprus came into being in August 1960. Its first President was Archbishop Makarios. Over the first three years of independence relations between  the Greek and Turkish Cypriots deteriorated, mainly as a result of flaws in the  constitution which gave disproportional rights to the Turkish Cypriot community including the right to block the passing of laws. In 1963 intercommunal violence broke out following which many Turkish Cypriots withdrew to enclaves. Attempts to bring the two sides back together were made through the United Nations who sent a contingent to the island.

On 15 July 1974 the Junta ruling Athens at the time organised a coup to overthrow Archbishop Makarios. A week later Turkey invaded the island, claiming this was to restore constitutional order. However, when the rightful government was restored, Turkish troops stayed on, implementing a long-held policy of partitioning the island. They went on to occupy more than a third of Cyprus, forcing  200,000 people to lose their homes and become refugees. The area under Turkish occupation unilaterally declared independence in 1983, an act condemned by the UN and other international organisations. No country in the world other than Turkey has recognised this illegal state.

The political issue, despite efforts to solve it, remains virtually frozen since 1974 and the occupation of part of Cyprus by the Turkish army still continues.

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