The troubled history of Cyprus

NICOSIA (Combined reports) – Greek and Turkish leaders of ethnically divided Cyprus began intensive reunification talks yesterday in a bid to end a stalemate which could botch the EU’s expansion plans from 2004. The following is a chronology of events in the eastern Mediterranean island. – 1878 – The Ottoman Empire hands over Cyprus to British administration while retaining nominal sovereignty. – 1914 – Britain annexes Cyprus, later absorbing it formally as a crown colony. – 1955 – The Greek-Cypriot EOKA guerrilla group launches armed revolt against British rule. – 1960 – Britain grants independence to Cyprus under a constitution providing for broad power-sharing between Turkish and Greek Cypriots. – 1963 – President Makarios proposes changes to the constitution, effectively abrogating power-sharing arrangements with the Turks. Intercommunal violence erupts. – 1964 – Government formed without Turkish Cypriots. Many Turks withdraw into enclaves patrolled by Turkish-Cypriot paramilitary groups. The UN peacekeeping force is established. – 1967 – The military seizes power in Greece. – 1974 – July 15: Members of the Cyprus national guard, composed solely of Greek Cypriots, overthrow the president, Greek Orthodox Archbishop Makarios, in a coup sponsored by the military regime in Athens aimed at union with Greece. They install Nicos Sampson, an avowed enemy of the Turks, as a figurehead president. A total of 200 Greek Cypriots are killed in the fighting. July 20: Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, quoting the Zurich accords of 1959 that made Turkey, Greece and Britain guarantors of Cypriot independence, orders Operation Attila, landing troops on the northern coast in a «peace operation» to protect the Turkish-Cypriot minority. July 23: Fall of the colonels’ junta regime in Athens and collapse of the coup in Nicosia. Parliamentary speaker Glafcos Clerides takes over as caretaker president of Cyprus until the restoration of Makarios. July 30: The meeting of the three guarantor states in Geneva set up a «security zone» manned by UN troops, recognizing the existence of two autonomous administrations on Cyprus. August: The United Nations demands the restoration of Cypriot sovereignty and withdrawal of foreign troops. Talks in Geneva collapse. The Turkish army advances eastward and by August 16 controls 37 percent of the island. Greeks in the Turkish zone and Turks in the Greek zone flee to the opposite sides. – 1975 – February 13: Denktash proclaims the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus (TFSC) in the Turkish-occupied sector. – 1976 -June: Denktash is elected president of the TFSC. – 1977 -January: Denktash and Makarios agree on the principle of a federal «bicommunal, bizonal» non-aligned state of Cyprus. August 3: The death of Makarios interrupts negotiations. – 1978 -Talks resume between Denktash and President Spyros Kyprianou. – 1983 – Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash declares a breakaway state in northern Cyprus, recognized only by Turkey. – 1984-1990 – Several sessions of talks make no progress. – 1992 – April 10: UN Security Council passes Resolution 750, saying a settlement must be based on «a state of Cyprus with single sovereignty, an international personality and a single citizenship, with its independence and territorial integrity safeguarded, and comprising two politically equal communities.» UN-sponsored talks later in the year break down, over the areas to be under Greek and Turkish-Cypriot administration and representation in a federal government. – 1993 -Greece and Cyprus sign joint defense pact. – 1996 -June-October: At least three Greek Cypriots die in intercommunal violence on the Green Line and in the UN-manned buffer zone. – 1997 – Denktash and Clerides, elected president in 1993, meet face-to-face for the last time in Geneva. Denktash conditions future direct talks on recognition of his breakaway state, splitting the island into two separate states, but indirect talks with UN intermediaries continue to be held, with no results. A series of direct talks begin between the leaders in New York, Switzerland, and in Nicosia. – 1998 – The government of Cyprus begins EU accession talks. Turkey and the breakaway state in northern Cyprus form a «council of association,» matching one set up between the Republic of Cyprus and European Union in preparation for Nicosia joining the EU. – 1999 – Earthquake hits Turkey, killing over 18,000 people. Sympathy in Greece boosts tentative reconciliation started months earlier by Athens and Ankara. The EU accepts Turkey as a candidate for membership. A new round of talks starts in New York. Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides sits in one room, while Denktash sits in another, with UN officials shuttling between them. – 2000 – November 10: Proximity talks end. November 24: Denktash says talks aimed at reuniting Cyprus are «a waste of time,» if his republic’s existence is not accepted. – 2001 – Jan 29: The top UN envoy for a divided Cyprus fails to restart stalled reunification talks. May 10: European Court of Human Rights finds Turkey guilty of wide-scale abuses following its 1974 invasion. June 6: Denktash says Cyprus’s prospective EU membership will upset power balances in the eastern Mediterranean. November 4: Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit says Ankara could «annex» northern Cyprus if the island’s internationally recognized government becomes an EU member. November 8: Denktash says he has invited Clerides for «heart-to-heart» direct talks, calling for «sincere dialogue.» Clerides agrees, providing there is a UN official present, which Denktash accepts. November 12: Greece says there can be no EU expansion without Cyprus. November 15: Clerides agrees to meet with Denktash. November 27: Turkey’s National Security Council says Ankara would not agree to any formula for a solution that would «breach international agreements, threaten the security of Turkey and the breakaway state, and render the Turkish Cypriots a minority under Greek-Cypriot rule.» December 4: Clerides and Denktash hold their first summit in four years in the buffer zone which separates the two parts of the island, and announce the resumption of direct talks in mid-January 2002. December 5: Clerides crosses over into the Turkish-held north to dine with Denktash. December 29: Denktash reciprocates Clerides’s symbolic December 5 invitation and has dinner with Clerides in south Nicosia. – 2002 – January 11: The two Cypriot leaders meet twice in Nicosia to discuss the fate of some 2,000 people who went missing during the island’s years of conflict.January 16: Clerides and Denktash start reunification talks.(Reuters, AFP)