Northern Cyprus History


The Historical Tapestry of Northern Cyprus.(Northern Cyprus History)

Ottoman rule (1570-1878)

Between 1571 and 1878, during the Ottoman Empire’s rule, Cyprus was home to two distinct communities: Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. Despite their differences in ethnicity, religion, language, culture, and traditions, they coexisted peacefully and harmoniously under the Ottoman Millet System.

The Greek War of Independence, waged by Greek revolutionaries against the Ottoman Empire from 1821 to 1829, played a pivotal role in igniting Greek nationalist sentiments. This period saw the resurgence of the Hellenistic ‘megali idea,’ which, in turn, fueled the Greek Cypriot desire for ‘enosis,’ the union of Cyprus with Greece

British Rule (1878-1960)

In 1878, as outlined in the 1878 Cyprus Convention, the United Kingdom assumed control of the island, even though it legally remained part of the Ottoman Empire. However, in 1914, during World War I, Britain unilaterally annexed Cyprus due to its alliance with the Ottoman Empire. This formalized Cyprus as a Crown Colony in 1925.

Following this annexation, Greek nationalistic fervor surged in Cyprus, with Greek Cypriots intensifying their calls for enosis, or union with Greece. They protested British rule, reaching a climax in 1931 when they set the British Governor’s House ablaze. With guidance from the Greek Orthodox Church and support from Greece, they established the Greek terrorist organization EOKA. Its mission was to end Cyprus’s British colonial status and achieve union with Greece through a military campaign. EOKA, founded on April 1, 1955, carried out a violent campaign, targeting various groups, including British colonial rulers, Turkish Cypriots, and even Greek Cypriots who opposed enosis.

Recognizing their co-ownership of the island, Turkish Cypriots opposed Cyprus’s annexation to Greece and demanded an equal role in shaping its future. Greek Cypriot armed attacks against the British also affected Turkish Cypriots, exacerbating tensions between the two communities. By 1959, the situation had become untenable for both Turkish Cypriots and the British administration.

The Partnership Republic of Cyprus (1960-1963)

In the 1950s, in response to Greek Cypriot violence, a compromise was reached involving the Turkish Cypriot Leader, Greek Cypriot Leader, Turkey, Greece, and Britain. This diplomatic effort resulted in the London and Zürich agreements, which ultimately established the partnership Republic of Cyprus in 1960. The international treaties, including the Treaties of Establishment, Guarantee, and Alliance, served as guiding principles for this establishment.

The birth of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960 marked a crucial milestone, granting the island its independence and granting guarantor rights to Turkey, Greece, and the United Kingdom. Concurrently, Britain retained control over two military bases, called the Sovereign Base Areas (SBA), located at Akrotiri and Dhekelia.

In 1960, the Republic of Cyprus was founded on the principles of political equality between its co-founding partners, the Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. Its constitution established a functional federation, with each community independently managing communal affairs, including matters like birth, death, marriage, education, culture, sports organizations, municipal duties, and taxation.

The legitimacy of the 1960 Republic rested on joint participation and effective presence of both communities in all state organs. Neither side held the unilateral right to govern the island without representation in all state organs and its government.

Division of the island and Greek Cypriot atrocities against Turkish Cypriot people (1963-1974)

In 1960, the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots entered into a partnership to form the Republic of Cyprus. However, tensions arose when the Greek Cypriots pursued ambitions of uniting the island with Greece. This led to the infamous Akritas Plan, a blueprint for annexing the island to Greece and marginalizing Turkish Cypriots.

The Greek Cypriots proposed amendments known as the Thirteen Points, which aimed to undermine the rights and equal co-founder status of Turkish Cypriots, violating the 1960 constitution. When Turkish Cypriots opposed these changes, the ‘Akritas’ plan resulted in civilian massacres and ‘ethnic cleansing’ in 1963, causing significant casualties and displacement.

The Greek Cypriots then forcefully took control of the partnership Republic of Cyprus, expelling Turkish Cypriot officials and altering the constitution. UN reports from 1963 to 1974 extensively document these historical events.

The cruelty against Turkish Cypriots led to the establishment of the ‘Green Line’ in 1963 and the deployment of the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in 1964.

Since then, Cyprus has lacked a central administration capable of representing the entire island. The Greek Cypriot regime, claiming to be the ‘Republic of Cyprus,’ has deviated from the 1960 partnership, effectively becoming a Greek Cypriot state.

Greek Army coup d’etat and Türkiye’s Response (15 – 20 July 1974)

On July 15, 1974, the Greek military junta in Athens, in collaboration with the Greek Cypriot terrorist organization EOKA, staged a coup d’état in Cyprus. Their goal was to achieve immediate enosis, which Archbishop Makarios described as ‘an invasion violating the independence and sovereignty of the Republic’ in his address to the UN Security Council on July 19, 1974.

Due to the imminent threat of further bloodshed on the island, Turkey intervened militarily on July 20, 1974, invoking Article IV of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee. This intervention not only prevented the annexation of Cyprus to Greece but also saved the Turkish Cypriot population from potential annihilation.(Northern Cyprus History)

Population Exchange Agreement (2 August 1975)

Under United Nations auspices, both sides reached the Voluntary Exchange of Populations Agreement during the third round of inter-communal talks in Vienna on August 2, 1975. As a result, Turkish Cypriots were relocated to the North, and Greek Cypriots to the South. UN documents (S/11789 of August 5, 1975, and S/11789/Add.1 of September 10, 1975) thoroughly document the Agreement and its implementation.(Northern Cyprus History)

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (15 November 1983)

Since the deliberate destruction of the bi-national Republic in 1963, no single constitutional government or republic has represented both communities on the island. For nearly six decades, neither side has held jurisdiction over the other; each has governed independently.

The Greek Cypriot side took control of the state organs of the partnership Republic and continued to assert itself as the ‘Government of Cyprus.’ Meanwhile, the Turkish Cypriot people have administered their own region.

In 1964, Turkish Cypriots formed a General Committee that operated until December 27, 1967. Subsequently, the Provisional Cyprus Turkish Administration (later renamed the Cyprus Turkish Administration on December 21, 1971) was established. This was followed by the Autonomous Turkish Cypriot Administration.

Over time, Turkish Cypriot institutions in judiciary, executive, and legislative branches transformed into the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus in 1975. This evolution ultimately led to the establishment of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on November 15, 1983.

Today, the TRNC is a fully operational state with a democratically elected government, legislature, and an independent judiciary, as well as other essential state institutions.

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