In these days when the fences for splitting people is an extremely topical issue, we can remember a strange and very artificial border that separates an European capital, as Berlin was in its time. We are talking about Nicosia, in Cyprus, and the last capital in the world still divided. And the History of this broken-hearts story starts not really long away, in the second part of the last century.
If we want to understand this problem, we need to know that in 1974, the Turkish Government conducted a military operation to invade the northern part of the island. Why did they do this? In 1960, Cyprus stopped to be a British colony and became in a new state. In its given constitution, the Turkish and the Greek communities was recognized with similar political status and the peace was possible for at least three years. Before that, both communities had several coexistence problems because the Greek one asked for the “Enosis”, the joining together with Greece, and the Turkish and always minority community wanted the “Taksim”, dividing the island. These aspirations were left due to the independence of the country, but in 1974, Greek-Cypriot and Greek militaries (remember in Greece there was the Dictatorship of the Colonels) did a coup d’ etat. In this tumultuous moment and being afraid of the Turkish community, Turkey decided to invade the north of Cyprus despite the disagreement of the United Nations.
But if you ask to Cypriot people nowadays, they probably say that fear about the Turkish minorities wasn’t an excuse enough and the word “occupied” is the most common. Actually, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is only recognized officially by Turkey and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Moreover, in both sides of the Green Line (the popular name of the frontier), they talk about “the north” and “the south”.
What is the current situation? Although you can see wire fences, barricades and barrel barriers as border and few soldiers guarding, the gates are places that people can cross easily and since spring, visa is not necessary anymore. Since 2003 when the frontier was open for the first time, there have been reconciliation gestures, like destroying walls and border infrastructure or the new crossing point in the centric and commercial Ledra street in Nicosia, the peace dialogues have been almost sleeping. In spite of the fact that both communities live nowadays without serious coexistence problems, the reunification still seems far away, above all after the Greek-Cypriots refused it in the referendum in 2004. In that date, the Turkish-Cypriots said “yes”, despite their president Rauf Denktash asked for voting against.
Beyond Cyprus, many international relationships experts say that the conflict for this historical piece of land hasn’t solved yet by Turkey and Greece, and the consequences may be seen in the current relations about present problems, for example the crisis with the Syrian refugees or the oil pipeline issue.
Fortunately, even though the border landscapes can seem hopeless, this beautiful Mediterranean island returns to normal step by step. Let’s remember that Cyprus is where the love Greek goddess born.