The Year of Stagnation in Cyprus
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In the mid-seventies, a group in Athens, Greece, backed a military coup in the country’s capital, Nicosia. This coup was led by Greek Cypriots who were advocating a union with Greece. Makarios was still president of Cyprus, but the extremists Greek Cypriots felt that he no longer supported a connection between the two countries. Eventually, the Greek and the Turk Cypriots fought, and Greek Cypriots overthrew the current government. This government lasted less than a week, when the ex-military rulers turned over the governmental reigns to non-military politicians. This resulted in an upheaval with regard to the geographical location of the two ethnic groups: Turk Cypriots escaped to the north and Greek Cypriots relocated to the south. Unfortunately, the process created a number of homeless individuals who had to abandon their property.
The nation of Cyprus became divided into two sections. The Greek Cypriots controlled a little more than sixty percent of the land and the economic affairs of Cyprus, while the Turk Cypriots ruled slightly less than forty percent. The Greek ruled the area that became known as the Republic of Cyprus which is recognized internationally.
The Turk Cypriots also established a formalized government. Thus, in February 1975, the Turkish Cypriots formally set up their own government with a popularly elected president and a prime minister responsible to the National Assembly exercising joint executive powers. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriots declared the independence of the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (TRNC) and in 1985 adopted a constitution and held elections; this arrangement is recognized only by Turkey.
During this period, the conflict between the two ethnic groups initially had devastating effects on the small country of Cyprus. Almost a quarter of a million individuals became homeless. However, later in the 1970s when the Middle East experienced a dramatic increase in oil prices, Cyprus enjoyed an increase in economic prosperity. Additionally, as the civil war in Lebanon intensified, many foreign companies moved their base to Cyprus.