Northern Cyprus the Lost Gem

By: Kev Moore

Northern Cyprus is arguably the most beautiful part of this Mediterranean Island paradise. With its lush mountain ranges and green valleys the North is probably more fertile too. There are hundreds of unspoiled beaches and the traditional Cypriot villages have breathtaking views out over the ocean. In fact many Greek Cypriots in the South would agree that Northern Cyprus is the better half of the Island too. Unfortunately however these Greek Cypriots no longer live on the North of the Island and see themselves as refugees or displaced persons. You see, in 1974 Turkey invaded Northern Cyprus which they have occupied ever since despite international disaproval and numerous trade embargoes.

Nicosia in Cyprus is the last dived city in the world split by a 3kilometer buffer zone which is patrolled by troops of the U.N. peace keeping force. Buildings abandoned within this zone have remained untouched since 1974 and the shreds of washing still on the clothes lines lend a ghostly air to the whole area. Visitors to the Greek Cypriot side of Nicosia can view this no mans land from several view points and even leave comments in a visitors book too. The pages of this book tell an emotional tale in many of the prayers and wishes that have been added to it over the years. There is still a huge strength of emotion and feeling surrounding the "Cyprus problem" even to this day by those that vividly remember the events of that time.

Further East is the even more eerie specter of the resort town of Famagust most of which lies in dereliction within the buffer zone. Tourist trips to Northern Cyprus take people to see the remains of this once proud holiday resort and they can still see the shell damage to buildings with whole sides totally blown out. Famagusta was once the premier resort of the whole Mediterranean and any luxury cruise worth its salt would have berthed in Famagusta port. The resort has miles of white sandy beach and the beautiful Mediterranean ocean is crystal clear. Visitors to this "ghost town" can't help but feel the tragic sense of loss that exudes from the crumbling buildings and miles of barbed wire.

If you take your Cyprus holidays in the Famagusta area of Southern Cyprus look out for the photos and pictures of the town proudly displayed by many of the business owners. These people or their parents would have been driven from their homes with nothing more than they could carry. They would have lost everything they ever owned when they fled from Northern Cyprus including land, homes and businesses leaving them penniless refugees. In spite of these loses most of them have rebuilt their lives and now have thriving businesses in the South close to the border. For most of them however the level of emotion has not eased with the passing of time and seeing their former homeland across the border in Northern Cyprus doesn't help.

Since Turkey has expressed a desire to join the European Union the "Cyprus problem" is once again being debated and pressure is being bought to bear. No one can predict how the deadlock will be resolved but it is likely that a resolution is on the cards in the not too distant future. The whole issue of Northern Cyprus is sure to open up many old wounds and there has even been talk about compensation including the return of Famagusta to Southern Cypriot ownership. Who can tell? perhaps one day soon the beautiful resort of Famagusta will thrive once again and those cruise ships will tie up in her port. Then maybe, just maybe there will be no border and no state of Northern Cyprus.

Cyprus Guide
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