Skip to main content

Cyprus President Anastasiades in Delhi to discuss country's reunification, though India is a different story altogether

By Sadhan Mukherjee* 
In 1963, the then East German writer Christa Wolf created a worldwide sensation when her book Divided Heaven came out. The basic story is that just before the Berlin Wall came up, a couple from East Germany, Manfred and Rita, visits West Berlin, the show piece of the West. Theirs is the story of love as well as sacrifice. The glitter of the West could not convince Rita to stay on in West Berlin and she goes back to East Germany.
But their pathos was palpable. “At least they can’t divide the sky,” says Manfred, who decides to stay on in West Berlin. But Rita chooses her socialist ideals, and East Germany, over a life with him in the West. “The sky?” Thinks Rita, in response, “This vault of hope and desire, love and sadness?” ‘Oh yes,’” she says, “The heavens are what split first.”
The wall came up in 1961 and was demolished in 1989. In 1990 the two Germanys and two Berlins were reunited. How many couples and how many families were divided in world over in wars and their aftermath is anybody’s guess. Even now war and its consequences taking their tolls rendering many peoples and families divided and filial ties destroyed.
When German reunification came, people’s joy could only be guessed. The same people who had been divided due to big power politics of post-World War II could reunite. There are the post-war divisions of Indian, Korea and several other nation states. In German reunification, the same people were reunited. In Korea too the same people are involved but for many others the story is divergent.
India is also a different story altogether. So is the story of Cyprus. Myth has it that Greek Goddess Aphrodite was born in Cyprus. It came under the Ottoman Empire and later a part of British Empire from 1914 to 1960. Its present population ratio is 76% Greek Cypriots and 24% Turkish Cypriots. The Greeks demand Cyprus’s union with Greece from the 1930s which the British opposed and imposed harsh measures to control the movement. During the Second World War Britain sought to make Cyprus a base for its Mediterranean operations.
In 1948 King Paul of Greece declared that Cyprus wanted union with Greece. This and a later referendum in 1950 in which about 97% of Greek Cypriots wanted union was rejected. The movement’s leadership was taken over by Archbishop Makarios which drew international support. Turkey also became worried and violence erupted in many places. In 1955 the British government declared emergency. Makarios and many other clergy men were forced into exile in Seychelles. A ceasefire agreement was arrived at and Makarios was released.
The Turkish response to Greek demand for union with Greece was a demand for partition of the Island in 1957, and soon it led to Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot hostilities egged on by the British. The violence continued for several years. Greece then agreed that Turkey was an interested party to the dispute.
Finally an agreement was arrived at Zurich in 1959 without the presence of either the Greek or the Turkish sides. This agreement set the basis for independence of Cyprus, no union with either Greece or Turkey. The President of Cyprus would be a Greek Cypriot while the Vice President a Turkish Cypriot and several other conditions. On 16 August 1960 Cyprus became an independent state. But it did not lead to resolution of Greek-Turkish tensions and conflicts on the island.
The demand for union with Greece was revived and by December 1963 inter-ethnic riots broke out. President Makarios approached the UN and in 1964 United Nation Peacekeeping forces took charge of the dividing buffer zone cutting the island into two parts, the socalled Green Line, something like the Radcliffe line dividing East and West Bengal. There are several such lines like the McMahon Line and Line of Actual Control, as well as the LOC in Jammu & Kashmir. Such lines also exist in Syria, Lebanon and some other countries. Greek military forces which had come to the Cyprus withdrew after the UN Peace Keeping forces moved in.
In 1974 Greece carried out a coup d’├ętat in Cyprus organised by the Greek military junta which was already in power in Greece. The same year, Turkey also carried out an invasion. Turkish troops took control of 38% of the island. Some 200000 Greek Cypriots living in that area fled to southern Cyprus and some 70000 Turks moved to northern Cyprus from the southern areas. In 1983 the northern area declared itself to be Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus but it not recognised by any state except Turkey.
UN Peace Keeping forces continue to maintain peace between the two sides and no major clashes have taken place so far. The buffer zone literally runs through Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus. Two military bases are maintained on the island by the British. In 2003 the buffer zone was partially opened and members of both communities and EU citizens were allowed to cross the buffer zone. This writer was unable to do so in 1966 when he visited Nicosia.
On 21 April 2004, the planned UN-sponsored referendum on reunification was held. Turkish Cypriots accepted the UN plan as stated in the referendum, but Greek Cypriots rejected it by a large majority. In May 2004 Cyprus joined the European Union. In 2008 elections to Cyprus legislature were held and the leftist President Dimitris Christofias started talks for a reunified Cyprus as a bizonal federal state. In 2014, talks between north and south in which both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots took part led to a joint declaration for a negotiated settlement.
The present Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades is following up the issue of Cyprus reunification and is mobilising international opinion. He is currently in New Delhi and is going to discuss the issue with President Pranab Mukherjee and PM Narendra Modi. Turkish President Rycep Erdogan is also scheduled to visit India on 30 April and this could be a good opportunity to discuss this ticklish issue with him.
---
*Veteran journalist

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.