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Cyprus Issues: Green Line and Attila Line

During the end of the 1963, the intercommunal violence caused an imminent threat for the stability of the island. Nicosia (Lefkoe), the capital of the Republic, became a Battleground and physical segregation of the two communities intensified. Between 1963 and 1974, the Turkish Cypriots were forced to live in enclaves on their own in overcrowded slum conditions. They have lived in 5 percent of the island’s territory and 25,000 Turkish Cypriots have become refugees. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council decided to send a peacekeeping force. A buffer zone marked by the “Green Line” was drawn between the conflicting groups. Since March 1964, the United Nations Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) has deployed to prevent a recurrence of fighting and to contribute the maintenance of law and order and the restoration of normalcy to the island.

It was the time that the Turkish government, in its capacity as one of the guarantor powers, came to the rescue of their Cypriot brothers. It landed Turkish troops on the island, liberating the Northern part of Cyprus, so that the Turkish community could have some safe haven in their own country.

Turkey was impelled to take this action primarily because it wanted to frustrate the annexation of Cyprus to Greece as planned by a military coup against President of Cyprus, Makarios that had just taken place in the island. The coup leaders had done this with the connivance of the military junta that was ruling Greece at the time. Subsequent to the Turkish landing, exchange of population took place under a mutual agreement. The entire Turkish community moved to the liberated North and the Greek community migrated to the South. That was the end of the age-old sufferings of the Turkish Cypriots at the hands of the Greek Cypriots. Ever since then, the two communities have been living in peace and both have been progressing at an unprecedented pace.

Turkey seized 37 percent of the island. Cyprus was divided into northern (Turkish) and southern (Greek) section by the “Attila Line”, running from through Nicosia (Lefkoe) to Famagusta (Gazimagusa). The Turkish intervention caused huge personal and social tragedies. Approximately, 180,000 Cypriot Greeks became refugees, fleeing to the south and abandoning their possessions behind. There were also 6,000 dead and 1615 missing persons on the Greek side.

After the coup and war of 1974, the efforts of peaceful resolution of the Cyprus conflict have been increased at the intercommunal level as talks and negotiations between the leaders of the two communities. Between 1974-1 990 the major third-party has been the UN Secretaries-General. They have attempted to mediate the intercommunal talks:
Denktash-Makarios (1975-1977), Denktash-Kyprianu (1977-1988), Denktash-Vasiliu (1988- 1993), and now Denktash-Klerides. With the end of the Cold War, the United States and the European Union began to play more important rOTe in the negotiation process.

Both sides see the political reconciliation and the solution of the conflict differently. The Turkish Cypriot community demands the recognition of its separate political status, which culminated in the establishment of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in November 1983. Before declaring TRNC as an independent state, the Turkish community kept patiently waiting for nine long years for the Greek Cypriots to agree to some equitable solution of the Cyprus problem. Unfortunately, that did not happen. And it hasn’t happened till today.

The Greek Cypriot community sees the solution of the Cyprus problem only in the context of a bi-communal solution that allowed for the “three freedoms”: freedom of settlement, freedom of property ownership, and freedom of movement. The removal of Turkish forces from island was another Greek Cypriot precondition for settlement. Furthermore, other issues had to be dealt with such as the question of Turkish settlers on the island, international guarantees to replace the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, economic reconstruction, exploitation of resources, and development of infrastructure on a joint rather than unitary basis.

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