The last militarily divided city in Europe
Nicosia the capital of Cyprus, is now Europe's only militarily divided city. The city has been divided into Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot zones since the Turkish invasion in 1974. The ceasefire line from 1974 today separates the two communities on the island, and is commonly referred to as the Green Line. Ledra Street (closed since 1963), patrolled by UN peacekeepers is currently considered no-man's-land. Greek and Turkish Cypriot authorities reopened Ledra Street on April 3, 2008, raising hopes for a renewed drive to reunify the island.
In 1974, following a period of violence between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and an attempted Greek Cypriot coup d'état aimed at annexing the island to Greece (sponsored by the Greek military junta of 1967-1974) Turkey invaded and occupied Cyprus. Turkish forces invaded the island in two waves, occupying 37% of the islands northern territory. Approximately 160,000 Greek Cypriots fled to the south of the island, while 50,000 Turkish Cypriots fled north. Approximately 1,500 Greek Cypriot and 500 Turkish Cypriots remain missing. The Turkish invasion led to the widespread displacement of Cyprus's ethnic communities, dividing the island between a Turkish Cypriot north and Greek Cypriot south. Northern Cyprus (TRNC) has received diplomatic recognition only from Turkey, on which it has become dependent for economic, political and military support. The international community, including the United Nations and European Union, does not recognize the TRNC as a sovereign state, but recognizes the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole island. The United Nations considers the declaration of independence by the TRNC as legally invalid in several of its resolutions. The ceasefire line from 1974 today separates the two communities on the island, and is commonly referred to as the Green Line. The United Nations Buffer Zone in Cyprus runs for more than 300 km along the Green Line, which partitions the island of Cyprus into a southern and a northern area. The United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) was established in 1964 to prevent a recurrence of fighting between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. In 2004, Cyprus joined the E.U. and has been at the heart of tensions over Turkey’s troubled bid to become a member.
©2008 Jordan Kevrekidis
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