The History Of Cyprus And Immigration

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The history of the community is going to be analysed in two parts to give a better understanding of the reasons Turkish Cypriots immigrating to England. The first part is History of Cyprus. In this part, the history of Cyprus, from end of the 1950s until 1970s will be examined. The second part is immigration. In this part, the statistics of the immigration will be evaluated. In addition, the style of Turkish Cypriots in England will be mentioned.


Cyprus has played a key role throughout history, despite its limited geographical size and small population of around 800.000 people. The major powers have taken an interest in controlling and settling the island and this resulted in island being taken over by many nations. Cyprus has been part of Romans (30 BC-330 AD), Byzantine Empire (330-1191 AD), Richard the Lionheart and the Knights Templar (1191-1192), Frankish (Lusignan) Period (1192-1489), Venetian Republic (1489-1571), Ottoman Empire (1571-1878) and most recently, Britain (1878-1960). As a result, a multicultural population was left in Cyprus. While there are various small minorities, Latins, Armenians and Maronites, the population of the island is 80 per cent Greek and 18 per cent Turkish. (From the book)

The relationship between the communities in Cyprus (British and Greek) became violent during the end of 1950s. The island was under British Rule at that time. The reason of violence was resistance of Greek Cypriots against British rule. The Greeks of the island wanted to have their own independence. In January 1955, the National Organization of Cypriot Fighters (Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston - EOKA) was founded by Greek Cypriots. The aim was to attack the British and force them abandon their rights on the island. On April 1955, General Grivas (leader of EOKA) launched armed violence against British. "On April 1, 1955, EOKA opened a campaign of violence against British rule in a well-coordinated series of attacks on police, military, and other government installations in Nicosia, Famagusta, Larnaca and Limassol. In Nicosia the radio station was blown up". (Hakki, 2007, p. 9) Over one hundred British Personnel and servicemen died as a result of this attack. Greek Cypriots were also suspected of collaboration. Furthermore, in 1956, EOKA targeted police; Greek Cypriots and British murdered which resulted in Turkish Cypriots becoming casualties of EOKA terrorism. In 1957, violence between the Greek and Turkish communities developed into new and deadly form. Same year, Turkish Cypriots formed the Turkish Resistance Organization (Turk Mukavemet Teskilati - TMT), to fight EOKA and the growing demand for enosis¹. However, in 1958, EOKA targeted and burnt Turkish Cypriot villages.

On 11 February 1959, Greek and Turkish foreign ministers met in Zurich to draft treaties for independence of Cyprus. Agreement was reached between Greece and Turkey on a plan for settlement of the Cyprus dispute. On 19 February, following a conference in London, the agreement was signed by the representatives of Greece, Turkey, Britain and the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities. With the agreement, the communities divided into two. The Zurich Agreement provided a constitutional framework for both Cypriot communities, which emphasized on the equality of those two in many matters and also provided political and cultural separateness. According to the agreement;

The president of the Republic would be a Greek and the Vice-President would be a Turkish Cypriot (he would also have the right to veto)

Religious, educational, cultural and sporting affairs would be divided.

Municipalities would be separated in the five largest towns of the island.

Under the Treaties of alliance and guarantees, Britain, Greece and Turkey would have the right of intervention to protect the constitutional settlement. Also, stationing of the limited numbers of Turkish and Greek troops would be allowed.

Britain would have two sovereignty bases, Dekelia and Akrotiri-Episkopi, recognised.

For Turkish Cypriots, the most significant benefit of the agreement was enosis being forbidden. However, in Greek Cypriots' eyes, the agreement provided political equality to the Turkish Cypriot minority which was their fear. Subsequently, this constitution was all but a peace-maker. It was obvious that the constitution would bring more conflicts between the two communities rather than a peaceful democratic system

After drafting a constitution with Zurich and London Agreements, on 16 August 1960, Cyprus was proclaimed an independent state after eighty-two years of British Rule. Although, the communities did their best to ensure the smooth functioning of the new state, their efforts failed soon after the republic was established. The Greek Cypriots wanted to end the separation of the municipalities. The reason was, for Greek Cypriots, separating municipalities was a sign of separation and partition of the island, something they did not wish to happen. In November 1963, President Makarios suggested 13 amendments to the Constitution. The main features of these amendments were;

Greek Cypriot President and Turkish Cypriot Vice-President would be elected by the Greek Cypriot dominated House of Representatives

The veto powers of the Turkish Cypriots would be removed

The components of the Turkish Cypriots in the civil and military arms of government would be reduced

The municipalities would be unified

Makarios' interference through these amendments obviously aimed at maintaining the authority to the Greek Cypriots, putting Turkish Cypriots aside. He wanted to pass these amendments to the Constitution before any potential outside intervention. And so, after these amendments would be accepted, Turkish Cypriots would not have many rights or power to oppose him. He would then achieve a goal presumed dead, that is, to unite Cyprus with Greece ('Enosis').

The communities failed to agree on the suggested constitutional changes; the suggestion was rejected by the Turkish Cypriot community and also by Turkey. After the disagreement, violence and terrorism came to a head between the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, in December 1963. The main intention of the Greek Cypriot attacks was to destroy all the Turkish villages on the island. The violence erupted in the capital of Nicosia. Necatigil stated that "On December 28, 1963, the Daily Express carried the following report from Cyprus: We went tonight into the sealed-off Turkish Cypriot quarter of Nicosia in which 200 to 300 people had been slaughtered in the last five days. We were the first Western reporters there, and we have seen sights too frightful to be described in print. Horror was so extreme that the people seemed stunned beyond tears." (1993, p. 35) Similarly, GazioÄŸlu pointed out that "It is nonsense to claim, as the Greek Cypriots do, that all casualties were caused by fighting between armed men of both sides. On Christmas Eve many Turkish Cypriot people were brutally attacked and murdered in their suburban homes, including the wife and children of a doctor-allegedly by a group of 40 men, many in army boots and greatcoats." (1999, p. 114) This was also published on the Guardian, on December 31, 1963. During the Greek Cypriot armed aggression launched in December 1963, 103 Turkish Cypriot villages were destroyed. Ismail stated that "On January 1, 1964, the Daily Herald reported: When I came across the Turkish Cypriot homes they were an appalling sight. Apart from the walls they just did not exist. I doubt if a napalm attack could have created more devastation. Under roofs springs, children's cots, and gray ashes of what had once been tables, chairs and wardrobes. In the neighbouring village of Ayios Vassilios I counted 16 wrecked and burned out homes. They were all Turkish Cypriot's. In neither village did I find a scrap of damage to any Greek Cypriot house." (1989, p. 118) During 1963-1964, around 25,000 Turkish Cypriots escaped from their villages to less dangerous areas, cowering in fear of the Greek Cypriots. They were refugees in their own homeland. Turkish Cypriots Human Rights Committee stated that "When the disturbances broke out in December 1963 and continued during the first part of 1964, thousands of Turkish Cypriots fled their homes, taking with them only what they could drive or carry, and sought refuge in safer villages and areas." (1979, p. 187) The two communities stopped the attacks after Turkish jets were circulating around Nicosia. From 1964 to 1967 there were not many conflicts risen on the very ground of Cyprus, since the Turkish Cypriots were mostly withdrawn to safer areas.

In 1973, Greek attacks started again in the island towards Turkish Cypriots. "Members of the Greek Cypriot National Guard were mercilessly murdering all the civilian men, women, and children of the Turkish Cypriot villages and towns." (Ismail S., 1989, p. 289) Similarly, Necatigil stated that "On July 23, 1974, the Washington Post reported that in a Greek raid on a small Turkish village near Limassol, 36 people out of a population of 200 were killed. The Greeks said that they had been given orders to kill the inhabitants of the Turkish villages before the Turkish forces arrived." (1993, p. 99) After all these attacks against Turkish Cypriots, under the Treaty of Guarantee, Turkish Prime Minister Ecevit strongly inclined the Turks to intervene and save Turkish Cypriots. The Britain was invited to participate in military operations; however, the invitation was declined. Turkey's intervention began to Cyprus 20 July 1974. Turkey initially landed on the island with few troops, thus not being entirely successful. This resulted in Greek Cypriot army occupying many Turkish Cypriot enclaves all over the island. After Turkish forces achieved satisfactory results, they agreed to stop the attacks on 23 July 1974.

Guarantor powers, Britain, Greece and Turkey met in a conference in Geneva, on 25 July 1974. In the meantime, Turkish forces did not hold their ground, as Greek Cypriots were capturing more and more Turkish Cypriot enclaves. Guarantor powers met again at the second Geneva Conference on 9 August 1974. During the conference, Turkey demanded drastic action regarding the resistant Greeks. Turkey submitted a plan which involved separation of Turkish Cypriot areas from Greek Cypriots'. Guarantor powers failed to agree on the plan. The failure induced the second invasion of Turkey on 14 August 1974. With the invasion, the island divided and Turkey occupied 37% of the island. 50.000 Turkish Cypriots moved to North, while 160.000 Greek Cypriots moved to South. Since the partition, there has not been violence in the island.

"Turkey intervened to protect the lives and property of the Turkish-Cypriots, and to its credit it has done just that. In the 12 years since, there have been no killings and no massacres." (

The history of Cyprus bequeathed to its people unforgettable memories from 1960 to 1974. It can easily be observed that the people of the island suffered a lot during this period. From the massacres of 1963/1964 and 1974, more than three hundred Turkish Cypriots and more than one thousand five hundred Greek Cypriots have vanished into thin air, still not to be found.


As a result of the conflict and the violence of 1950s and 1960s, and then the economic and political problems of 1970s and 1980s (after the partition of the communities), Turkish Cypriots migrated from Cyprus.

Between 1955 and 1959, 29,000 Cypriots left the island. This was the time that there was an anti-colonial struggle in the island.

In 1960s, 50.000 Cypriots left the island. This was the time that Cypriots suffered economically. Also they suffered from inter-communal strife. Most immigrants were young males of the island. They were mostly unemployed. Some of them were factory workers, while some of them were university graduates.

In 1974, 40.000 to 50.000 Turkish Cypriots left the island. The reason was the events of 1974.

Britain was on the top of the immigration list. More than 75 percent immigrants came to Britain during 1953-1973. Many immigrants worked in the factories. Sewing was a good job option for women.

The Turkish Cypriots have so much pride and honour in themselves. They can sacrifice anything for the future of their children and name. Thus, they are working many hours to save money for the sake of their family. This, however, had unwanted effects, since it affected negatively the education of their children and family bonds. Many Turkish Cypriot immigrants who left Cyprus had the plan to stay in London for a while, make some money and then return to their country. But this dream rarely came true. Education in the UK was an important reason that many Turkish Cypriots decided to visit England. After the course of their education, many decided to stay permanently.

Haringey and Hackney are now the home of many Turkish Cypriots along with their businesses, shops and restaurants. Part of the community also lives near Greek Cypriots in Walthamstow and Edmonton. The Muslim community is being served by a mosque that is located in Green Lanes.