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Some key dates

11th centuries BC: Myceneans and Achaeans colonize the island.
9th century BC: Phoenicians settled in Cyprus.
7th century BC: Several Cypriot kingdoms flourished under Assyrian influence.
669/663 BC: Independent city-kingdoms
570 BC: Egyptians under Amasis conquer the island.
450 BC: Phoenician rulers in Salamis
414-374 BC: Under Evagoras of Salamis (in Eastern Cyprus) the island’s ten city kingdoms were united into one state and Greek culture, including the Greek alphabet, was promoted.
333-58 BC: Became part of the Greek Hellenistic and then, from 294 BC, the Egypt-based Ptolemaic empire.
58 BC: Cyprus was annexed by the Roman Empire.
45: Christianity introduced.
395: When the Roman Empire divided; Cyprus was allotted to the Byzantine Empire.
7th-10th centuries: Byzantines and Muslim Arabs fought for control of Cyprus.
1191: Richard the Lionheart of England conquered Cyprus as a base for Crusades; he later sold it to a French nobleman, Guy de Lusignan, who established a feudal monarchy which ruled for three centuries.
1498: The Venetian Republic took control of Cyprus.
1571: Cyprus was conquered by the Ottoman Empire.
1625-1700: Great depopulation of Cyprus. The plague wipes out over half of the population.
1821-33: When in the 1820s and 1830s the Balkan peoples rebelled against their Ottoman masters, Cyprus remained calm. As a preventive measure the local Ottoman governor had the Archbishop, bishops and other higher clergy hanged.
1878: Britain leased Cyprus from Turkey in return for defensive alliance against Russia.
1914: Formally annexed by Britain after Turkey entered World War I as a Central Power.
1923: By the treaty of Lausanne, which formally concluded the Greek-Turkish war in Asia Minor (i.e., Asia Minor Catastrophe), Turkey renounced all rights on Cyprus.
1925: Cyprus became a crown colony.
1931: Greek Cypriots protested against the economic consequences of the Great Depression. This led to riots (Oktovriana) where demands for enosis (union with Greece) were heard. The British suppressed the unrest and removed all elements of self-administration; from now on Cyprus was ruled dictatorially (Palmerokratia).
1939-45: Cypriots participated in WWII; Britain allowed municipal elections.
1948: the British Labour Government offered a constitution to the Cypriots which was rejected because it did not offer links with Greece.
1950: The newly elected Archbishop of Cyprus Makarios III organized an unofficial plebiscite of the Greek Cypriots which brought an overwhelming majority for enosis. The British took no notice of it.
1951-55: Greek efforts to find a peaceful solution failed because of British intransigence. The British believed that they needed the whole Cyprus as a military basis; Eden: The British Empire is not up for sale. In 1954 the Colonial Secretary Hopkinson stated that Cyprus can never expect to become independent. This intransigence led the Cypriot leadership to the decision to fight for freedom.
1955-59: The National Organization of Cypriot Fighters (EOKA) conducted an anticolonial campaign against Britain. Unlike other anti-colonial movements of that period, the Cypriot EOKA came from the political Right and fought not for independence but for union with Greece. The means applied were those of partisan or town guerilla warfare. In order to suppress the upheaval the British used a divide and rule strategy. They played both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and the two motherlands (Greece and Turkey) off against another, thus dividing the population which had lived together peacefully for centuries.
1960: The Zurich and London Agreements were signed by the United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey. These were meant as a solution to the situation but in effect they were only a hollow compromise: still, the Republic of Cyprus was an independent state in theory alone. In reality its independence was limited by a Treaty of Guarantee which allowed the three guarantor powers (United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey) to intervene trilaterally or unilaterally in cases of internal crisis to restore the status quo ante . The Treaty of Alliance allowed Greece and Turkey to station troops on Cyprus (950 Greeks & 650 Turks). The Constitution institutionalized the separation of the two peoples living on Cyprus (separate municipalities, seperate majorities in the House voting tax laws). The Greek president and the Turkish vice president had absolute veto powers. Instead of the principle of majority and minority (80% Greeks, 18% Turks) representation, a kind of de facto partnership (50/50) was followed. There was no article in the Constitution encouraging the cooperation between the two communities with the aim of creating a shared Cypriot identity. Without this Cypriotization the constitution was unworkable. Archbishop Makarios, (Greek Cypriot) becomes the first President, Dr Kutchuk (Turkish Cypriot) Vice-President.
1963-64: After independence Makarios had two aims: first, to achieve real independence by getting rid of the two treaties and second, to change the Constitution abolishing all veto rights and many ethnic clauses. The Turkish Cypriots and Turkey, however, were not ready to accept any changes. In November 1963 Makarios submitted his 13 changes to the constitution which were rejected by Turkish Cypriots and the Turkish government. Inter-communal fighting erupted. The US Government stepped in and developped various plans for solution. The Acheson plan provided a partition of the island and an attachment of the two parts to Greece and Turkey. However, the UN prevailed and an UN Peace-keeping force (UNFICYP) was sent in. On order of their leaders, thousands of Turkish Cypriots retreated into enclaves and were embargoed by the Greeks Cypriots. The UN attempted to supply them with food and medicine.
1974: During the Greek Dictatorship (1967-1974) the Cypriots’ interest in Enosis cooled down. In spring 1974 the military Junta in Greece was staggering and needed urgently a success. A coup inspired by the Athens junta tried to kill Makarios but he escaped. Greek officers in the Cypriot National Guard installed Nikos Sampson as president. Sampson had earned a reputation as a pathological killer of Turks during the civil war in 1963/4, and his installation provoked Turkey’s leadership. When Britain refused to take part in an operation to restore the status quo ante (treaty of guaranty), Turkey acted unilaterally and intervened militarily. A cease fire was agreed upon and negotiations began, when in Athens the military government collapsed and democracy returned to Greece. In the meantime the Turkish forces were reinforced and when the negotiations were about to end in success, the Turkish army resumed its advance, occupied the north of Cyprus (40 % of the island) and expelled the Greeks living there. Cyprus was thus practically partitioned. President Makarios was restored to office.
1977: A High Level Agreement was signed between Makarios and Denktash: Cyprus was to be a bicommunal, bizonal federation. However, when Makarios died in 1977, Denktash began to procrastinate, for he wanted an independent Turkish Cypriot state.
1983: Denktas proclaimed independent Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC); recognized only by Turkey.
1992-1995 : UN sponsored talks between the two sides
1994: The European Court of Justice declared trade with northern Cyprus illegal.
1998: Full EU membership negotiations commenced. Greek Cyprus rejected Denktas’s confederation proposals.
2003: The Republic of Cyprus set to join the European Union in May 2004. Renewed negotiations about the status of the island take place. On 23 April 2003, the line which divides the two parts of Cyprus was partly opened. Thousands of Turkish and Greek Cypriots cross the border to the "other side" after 30 years.
April 24 2004: The Annan Plan for the island’s reunification was accepted by a majority of Turkish Cypriots but rejected by the majority of Greek Cypriots.
May 1 2004: The Republic of Cyprus was accepted as a member of the European Union; thus it acquires a potential veto against an entry of Turkey into the EU.
September 24, 2006: Archiepiscopal elections. Bishop of Paphos Chrysostomos is elected new Archbishop of Cyprus, Chrysostomos II.
January 1, 2008: Cyprus joins the Eurozone.
February 24 2008: Presidential elections. Dimitris Christofias becomes the first Communist head of the European Union and the State of Cyprus.
2012: the Republic of Cyprus holds the Presidency of the Council of Europe.

Source: Combined and revised information based on Hutchinson Country Facts and Wikipedia, with further input and additional information provided by Prof. Heinz Richter (History, University of Mannheim).

D 12 September 2012   

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