In 1960, Cyprus became an independent country with a bicommunal (Greek and Turkish) character. The constitutional framework was provided by the Zurich and London agreements which unfortunately contained the seeds of partition and grounds for intercommunal conflict.
In December 1963, the city became the scene of intercommunal riots and clashes, as a result of Ankara's policy, which aimed at the self-enclavement of Turkish Cypriots. The British Secretary for Commonwealth Relations, Dunkan Sands, rushed to Cyprus in a bid to restore calm. A contact committee of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots was set up and met at the British High Commissioner's residence under Sand's chairmanship. At these meetings, General Young, who with the help of British troops had undertaken to supervise the ceasefire, marked in green color on Nicosia's map the confrontation line that would serve as a buffer zone. Thus ths Green Line came into being.
The treacherous coup and the Turkish invasion in July 1974 has had tragic consequences on the city and the whole island. The crown with the golden suburbs of Agios Dometios, Egkomi, Strovolos, Agioi Omologitai, Aglantzia, Pallouriotissa, Kaimakli, Omorfita, Trachonas, Mintzeli, was reduced to half a wreath with half the city and the three latter suburbs under occupation. The city's streets have since been cut in two by ugly roadblocks. A wall of sandbags and gun emplacements have split the city in two. In 1974, tanks extended the line outside the city, dividing the entire island in two. The Green Line is no longer a line on the map of Nicosia, it's a line on the whole map of Cyprus. A line on the map, grim barbed wire on the ground that you can touch and see every day, a tangible sign of occupation. Behind the barbed wire the painful realities of invasion: occupation of 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, 3.000 dead, 200.000 refugees in their own country, that is the whole Greek Cypriot population of the occupied areas. 1619 missing persons, who were alive at the end of the war and for whom Turkey has persistently refused to give any information, enclaved Greek Cypriots expelled from the Karpass and Kyrenia, despite a commitment undertaken by Mr Raouf Denktash, the Turkish Cypriot leader, under the Third Vienna Agreement of 1975 to protect their lives and properties and respect their rights. Greek Cypriot property situated in the occupied areas has been distributed and sold. Churches have been destroyed and turned into mosques or warehouses. Archaelogical treasures have been pillaged and sold to smugglers and antiquity dealers. Greek books from schools, municipal and private libraries have been sold by the kilo at public auctions. Greek Cypriots are banned not only from returning to their homes and properties but even from visiting their towns and villages, their homes, their schools, their churches, the graves of their parents. A program of ethnic cleansing has systematically been applied in the occupied area, coupled with the alteration of its demographic character. It is to be noted that the settlers brought over from Turkey have by now become more numerous than Turkish Cypriots whose number has been dwindling due to emigration to Europe and elsewhere, because even they cannot endure the reality of the invasion. Turkey's claim that its invasion of Cyprus aimed at protecting Turkish Cypriots is thus shown to be a big lie. The presence of 40.000 Turkish troops, a force disproportionate to the area and population of the island, which is within a small distance from Turkey, as well as Turkey's military installations in Cyprus, indicate not only possible expansionist plans but also psychological blackmail.
Behind the Green Line barbed wire there lie the painful realities of the occupation, which are in sharp contrast to the declared principles of democracy and freedom adopted by the United Nations, the European Union, NATO and all free countries. These principles are being put to the test in Cyprus. On the Green Line, history will be the judge of the credibility of the free world.
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