In the past quarter of a century, the island of Cyprus has seen more than its share of violence and privation.
In the past quarter of a century, the island of Cyprus has seen more than its share of violence and privation. After a long and bitter fight to achieve independence from Britain, the traditional enmities between Greeks and Turks further embittered the island's two communities. Then came 1974 and the Turkish invasion which effectively split Cyprus into two nationalities. But since then, the Greek sector of the island has gone a long way towards recovery.
SYNOPSIS: The ruins of the Presidential Palace in Nicosia epitomised the condition of the Greek population of Cyprus in 1974. President Makarios stood amid the ruins of his ambition to make Cyprus strong and truly independent. Briefly deposed in an armed coup, he regained power only to find half Cyprus occupied by Turkish invaders. Greek-Turkish hatred was again inflamed and the economy was in ruins.
It has taken four years to reverse the effects of those disasters. Although Makarios himself died in 1977, the Greek community on Cyprus has repaired most of the damage and has put itself back on the road to prosperity. The principal problem concerned the 200,000 refugees who fled the part of the island occupied by the Turks and sought safety in the Greek sector. Despite international aid, the refugee problem threatened to engulf Greek Cyprus.
Today, most of those who left their homes in the northeast of Cyprus have been rehoused. A massive building programme not only provided homes but employment for many of the thousands thrown out of work by the war. In 1978, unemployment is down to two percent, according to government figures, and a desperate situation has been transformed..and the government is now saying that Greek Cyprus, on its own, has an economy as flourishing as that of the entire island before 1974.
The United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus has been in position, keeping the peace between Greeks and Turks, since 1966. Today, its task is to monitor the ceasefire line between the two portions of the island-which in one case, passes through the middle of a Greek-owned engineering plant. Like nearly all similar plants, it is working at full production. Sound economics and hard work have contributed to the recovery, but Cyprus has also been lucky. The demise of Beirut has seen both American and Arab money pouring in. A succession of good crops have boosted food exports and the results of this good fortune are to be seen in a new port at Limassol, a new airport at Larnaca and new hotels for a tourist industry which is booming again. Last year, the Greek Cypriot economy grew at an impressive 12 percent rate and new President Kyprianou has reason for optimism. It may be early to say that Greek Cyprus has overcome all its difficulties, but the results, only four years after a war, are at least encouraging.