We the law abiding, native residents of Kyrenia, forced by the Turkish troops which invaded Cyprus in 1974 to abandon our ancestral land and become refugees
DEMAND The right to return to our homes and properties and live in them, both us and our children, under conditions of freedom and security
DEMAND That human rights and the European acquis communautaire are implemented in our case as well, since we are equal citizens of the European Union
WE EXPECT From the United Nations to assist in finding a solution compatible with the principles on which this international organization is based and which it is called upon to defend according to its Charter and not to submit to us for signature plans that violate every human right and every principle of justice/law.
WE EXPECT From all sensible individuals to do their utmost in order to stop the injustice against us.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE TURKISH INVASION AND OCCUPATION IN FACTS AND NUMBERS
35% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus is under occupation
142.000 Greek Cypriots – one quarter of the overall population – were displaced from the occupied northern part, where they constituted 70% of the inhabitants, and are being kept away from their homes and property, while the Turkish Cypriots of the free areas were forcibly transferred by their leadership to the occupied areas
About 500 enclaved persons (from 20.000 that were living there in mid 1974) have remained in their occupied villages and live under conditions of oppression, threats and deprivation
35.000 Turkish soldiers, equipped with modern weapons and supported by air force and navy, continue to be present in the occupied part of Cyprus
115.000 settlers, most of them from Anatolia, have been transported and have settled in the occupied part, with the aim of altering the demographic structure of the island
55.000 Turkish Cypriots, from a total number of 116.000, have emigrated abroad since 1974, due to the economic, social and moral degradation prevailing in the occupied areas
The occupation regime is methodically implementing a long-term plan for the eradication of the cultural and historical heritage going back to 11.000 years in the occupied areas and Greek place-names have been arbitrarily turned into Turkish place-names
Turkey blatantly violates 84 United Nations Security Council Resolutions and 12 Resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly issued between 1974- 2001 about the situation in Cyprus.
The Turkish invasion forces have forced the tightly-knit community of the native Greek Cypriots of Kyrenia to be scattered in the free areas of Cyprus, but they have not managed to eradicate it
The whole of Kyrenia Municipality demands nothing less or more than the implementation of the human right of its citizens to return to their home town, where they lived for thousands of years
The European Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe has already recognized to Kyrenia citizen Titina Loizidou the inalienable right to her property, through its decision of December 1996 (Case of Loizidou V. Turkey, 40/1993/435/514), and Turkey has complied and has already compensated Mrs. Loizidou for depriving her of the income from her property, which rightfully still belongs to her
It is unacceptable for a part of the European Union to be under military occupation and it is in fact the most militarised place in the world
KYRENIA WILL WAIT BECAUSE ITS HISTORICAL PAST DICTATES THAT IT SHOULD NOT GIVE UP ITS JUST FIGHT
HISTORY GUIDES AND TEACHES
The Turkish military forces landed on the northern shores of Cyprus using as a pretext the coup against the elected President of the Republic of Cyprus five days earlier, on 15 July 1974. Those responsible for the coup were overthrown and democracy was restored in a week. The Turkish army however, violating the ceasefire agreement, reached on 22nd July, entered the town of Kyrenia, occupying it and violently forcing all its Greek native inhabitants to leave. Subsequently, by mid –August, it advanced even further and occupied 35% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus applying the same tactics. It forced the native Greek inhabitants to leave, plundered their homes and usurped all of their belongings, forcing those who had the courage to remain despite the fear of being killed and oppression, to resort to the free areas of Cyprus in the following 18 months. Only a very small number of Greek Cypriot inhabitants managed to remain until today in the Karpasia peninsula, in spite of the prevailing inhuman living conditions and persecutions.
Ever since the occupied part of the island remains the most militarised place on earth, with 35 thousand Turkish troops, fully equipped with the most modern military weapons, which it buys from the USA. Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, is until today the only divided city in Europe.
Turkey, while protesting falsely about the alleged isolation of the Turkish Cypriots, is in fact persecuting, expelling or killing from the occupied area of the island which it controls, every Turkish Cypriot who disagrees with its policy and arbitrarily brings settlers from Turkey to live in the part of the island under its occupation.
It distributes the properties of the native Greek inhabitants, whom it has forced to leave, and allows Turkish businessmen to build and sell various European citizens and others, holiday homes which are being built on land of Greek Cypriot ownership, despite the relevant decisions of the European Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe.
The native Greek Cypriot lawful inhabitants of occupied Kyrenia will never condone the illegal military occupation of their town by Turkey. Being refugees in their own homeland since 1974 they are fighting for their human rights.
To return to their homes and properties in conditions of freedom, security and dignified living conditions.
As European Union citizens they are asking that human rights and international laws be implemented in their case too, that the European acquis communautaire and human values be ensured in any solution of the Cyprus problem
This is dictated by the forty centuries of history and civilization created by the Greek residents of Kyrenia.
The plans for the solution of the Cyprus problem presented so far, especially the well known Annan plan, did not safeguard the human rights of all those citizens that the Turkish army forced to leave their homes.
According to the most prominent legal and constitutional experts, the plans for solution, prepared without the involvement of the native inhabitants of the island, would have caused more problems at the expense of all the inhabitants of the island and would have abolished the Republic of Cyprus.
HISTORY OF THE TOWN
Kyrenia is the capital of the district with the same name in the northern part of the island, which extends from Cape Kormakitis, includes the greatest part of the mountain range of Kyrenia (with the well known peaks of Kornos, Kyparissovouno, Ayios Ilarionas, Voufavento, Pentadaktylos) and ends in the middle of the northern coast of the island, also known as “Achaeon Akti”. This is justified because right after the Trojan War a lot of people from the area of Achaia in the Peloponnese came here and founded towns.
Population by District, census years 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911, 1921, 1931, 1946, 1960, 1973 Population by Religion and District census years 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911, 1921, 1931, 1946, 1960 Population and houses inhabited by District census years 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911 Population and houses inhabited by District census years 1921, 1931, 1946, 1960 Population by District and Sex census years 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911, 1921, 1931, 1946, 1960
PREHISTORIC YEARS In the town of Kyrenia and its vicinity, traces have been found confirming that the area had been inhabited since the Neolithic Age (5800-3000 B.C.). Graves of the Mycenaic, Geometric and Archaic ages (1300-500 B.C) have been excavated. The area was suitable because it had a good climate, a rich soil and lot of water.
Lykofronas indirectly mentions as the founder of Kyrenia, Kifeas, who was military man who came to Cyprus accompanied by people from various towns of Achaia. One of them was Kyrenia, which is near the present day town of Aegio. The people who accompanied him settled peacefully in the area, and ever since the native inhabitants of Kyrenia belong to the Greek race as regards their language, civilization and religion.
The most ancient reference to Kyrenia, along with other seven city/kingdoms of Cyprus, can be found on an Egyptian inscription dated in the age of Pharaoh Ramses III (1125-1100 B.C.).
The small distance separating it from the opposite coast of Asia Minor helped in the development of its trade. Ships setting off from the Aegean islands would sail along the coast, cross the sea and arrive at the northern coasts of Cyprus, mainly at the two city/kingdoms of Lapithos and Kyrenia.
A proof of Kyrenia’s commercial activities is an ancient ship wreck which was found just outside its port. The route that it had followed (end of the 3rd century, beginning of 3rd century) via Samos, Kos, Rhodes, the coast of Asia Minor and Kyrenia, confirms the town’s close commercial relations with other city/kingdoms of the Eastern Mediterranean.
During the dispute between the heirs of Alexander the Great, the Kingdom of Kyrenia came under the King of Lapithos, who had sided with Antigonos. After the prevalence of the Ptolemes in the whole of Cyprus, all of the Cypriot city/kingdoms were abolished by Ptolemy I (312 B.C.). Kyrenia, due to its sea trade continues to prosper. During the 2nd century B.C., as mentioned in the lists of the Delphi Oracle, Kyrenia was one of the six Cypriot towns which had the privilege of hosting the special envoys of the Delphi Oracle who were collecting the offerings to God Apollo and this was an indication of its wealth. There is evidence that in Kyrenia there were temples of both God Apollo as well as Goddess Aphrodite. The graves from the Hellenistic years which were discovered in today’s Kyrenia bear witness to its prosperity, because they are rich in findings.
During the Roman years, neighbouring Lapithos was the district/ s administrative centre. Kyrenia continued to be a big community though, and constituted a municipality, as evidenced by Roman period tombs, rich in funeral gifts, that have been excavated. A limestone inscription on the base of a statue reads ’Κeryneians/ Community‘ (13-37 AD). Famous for their construction works, the Romans left their marks here; they built a castle and a seawall at the front, so that the ships could anchor with safety.
Christianity was soon introduced. The old quarries in Chrysokava area, eastern of the Kyrenia castle, were converted into catacombs and accommodated the first Christian martyrs/ tombs. Later on, some of these tombs became churches with beautiful frescoes, like the Agia Mavri Church which is rock-carved.
Kyrenia had her own metropolitan Bishop. One of her first Bishops, Theodotos, was arrested and tortured during Likinios/ Empire (307-324 AD). The Church celebrates his memory on the 2nd of March.
Following the division of the Roman Empire into the eastern and the western one in 395 AD, Cyprus came under the Byzantine State and the Orthodox Church.
The Byzantine Emperors reinforced the roman castle of the town and built a church next to it, dedicated to Agios Georgios and used as a military chapel. After the destruction of Lambousa, as a result of the Arab raids in the early 9th century, Kyrenia/s importance grew, thanks to the safety the castle and its military contingent provided to the town. The last Byzantine governor of the island, Isaac Comnenus, sent his family and treasures to the island in 1191, when he was being persecuted by Richard the Lionheart of England, who soon after took possession of Cyprus.
FRANKISH (Lusignan) PERIOD
Because Richard the Lionheart needed money, he sold the island to the Knights Templar and when they regretted the purchase the following year, in 1192 AD, Guy de Lusignan bought it. In the Frankish years, the surrounding villages became feuds and Kyrenia the administrative and commercial centre of the area. The Byzantine castle was enlarged; walls with towers were built around the town and port, whereas fortification works were extended to the already existing Byzantine castles of St Hilarion, Voufavendo and Kantara. The four castles constituted a unified, defensive wall that protected the town from attack both by land and sea. Kyrenia and its castle saw many conflicts among the Frankish kings themselves as well as conflicts with the Genoans. Kyrenia castle faced many sieges but was never conquered.
When Cyprus was handed over to the Venetians (1489 AD), the castle of Kyreneia underwent changes in order to serve the new military needs, following the invention of gunpowder and the manufacturing of big cannons. Therefore, three out of the four slim Lusignan towers of the castle were demolished along with the royal quarters. Thick, carved towers were built in their place, which could resist cannon fires. Nevertheless, the Turks did not attack the castle after all, as it was surrendered to the Turkish military forces in 1571.
The Ottomans, although Kyrenia was the capital of one of the four and later one of the six districts of Cyprus, did not allow the Christians to enter the inner wall town of Kyrenia and especially the castle, because the Turkish gunmen’s corps along with their families lived there. The gunmen’s arbitrary lootings and criminal acts caused fear and horror to the people of the surrounding area. The few locals that dared to stay were sea people, who lived in houses around the deserted walls. Most of the locals moved to Pano Kyreneia, to Rhiatiko (a place which formerly belonged to a king) and to the surrounding villages of Thermia, Karakoumi, Kazafani, Bellapais and Karmi. The first revival of the town was due to the seamen who had a good relationship with the Turkish rulers by giving them gifts, so that they could conduct trade with the Asia Minor coast and the Aegean islands.
In 1783, Chrysopolitissa Church within the walls of Kyrenia was renovated and afterwards, due to the favourable decree of Hatt-i-Humayioun Sultan in 1856, which granted political rights to the Christian citizens of the Ottoman Empire, Archangelos Michael Church was rebuilt on a rock overlooking the sea. Many people from the surrounding villages took heart and moved back to Kyrenia. The trade with the Asia Minor coast was blooming and the products of the narrow plain allowed the inhabitants to live comfortably, educate their children and become high-cultured.
In 1878, after secret agreements between the British and the Ottoman governments, the island was ceded to Great Britain, as a war base in the Eastern Mediterranean. Since the British initially did not make any administrative changes, Kyrenia continued to be the administrative centre of the whole district and for this reason it kept on developing. The British constructed a road linking Kyrenia with Nicosia and also shaped its port. The Municipality was reorganized and took effective measures for the modernization of the town. In 1893 a hospital was built with private funding. During the first decade of the 20th century, Kyrenia was a flourishing, small town with a new school building, with her own newspaper and her own charity, artistic and sporting groups. It also gradually became a place of leisure and holiday for Nicosia residents. There were various hostels and in 1906, the first hotel, Akteon, was built near the sea. However, those first decades under British administration increased the inhabitants’ hardships; ruthless taxes, frequent droughts and global financial crisis caused the youth, especially the youth originating from the town and the district, to migrate en masse, initially to Egypt and later on to the USA.
In 1922, after centuries, the see is restored to the town with the construction of the Metropolis. In the same year, however, the Greco-Turkish war, which brought along the Asia Minor Catastrophe, brought the town’s trade to a standstill and the town ran the risk of losing its economic vitality.
Then, a person from Kyrenia, who had immigrated to the USA, was repatriated and built the first contemporary hotels in town, the Sea View in 1922 and the Dome Hotel in 1952, near the sea, with the primary goal to attract foreign tourists. The beautiful port, the many antiquities, the captivating landscape which combines sea, plain and mountain, with its rich vegetation, in combination with the modern accommodation facilities soon attracted many tourists and Kyrenia was revitalized through tourism. After World War II more hotels were constructed. The town of Kyrenia continued to be the favourite vacation place for Nicosia residents. Alongside the Greek and Turkish residents of Kyrenia, many British were now added, who chose Kyrenia as their place of residence.
THE REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS
After independence (1960) Kyrenia’s progress was somewhat suspended because of the inter-communal clashes of 1963-'64. Despite the fact that there were almost no conflicts in Kyrenia, armed Turks, members of parastate organizations, cut off the Nicosia/Kyrenia road and took over St Hilarion castle. Nevertheless, a new road was constructed from the east and the town continued to host tourists while hotels grew in number.
During the 60's a new Town Hall was constructed and a Folklore Museum was founded. An important ancient wreck was discovered in the sea of Kyrenia and was preserved and exhibited along with all its amphorae and freight inside the Kyrenia castle. The town's cultural activities were multiplied. Apart from the traditional festivities in celebration of the Holy Spirit and Epiphany Day, a Pancyprian Flower Festival was organized in the spring and theatre performances and concerts were held in the Kyrenia castle, while yacht races were organized. Kyrenia, Cyprus’ smallest town, was undoubtedly the jewel of the island.
However, Kyrenia was no longer restricted to its two traditional neighbourhoods, Pano and Kato Kyrenia (Rhiatiko), but expanded towards the mountain Known as the new neighbourhood of California, while it almost merged with the villages of Thermia, Karakoumi and Agios Georgios. All its inhabitants, Greeks, Turks, Maronites, Armenians, Latins and British lived together and co-operated peacefully. Even when in 1963-'64, the Turkish revolt against the lawful state erupted (upon instructions from Turkey), no conflicts or killings took place in Kyrenia. Only the illegal Turkish organization TMT forced the Turkish Cypriots living in Lapithos village to leave their homes and settle either in Kyrenia or Templos village.
In 1974 there were 47 villages in the Kyrenia district. Greek Cypriots along with Maronites constituted 83,12% of the population, while Turkish Cypriots constituted 13,45%. The rest were foreigners, mainly British pensioners.
The Turkish invasion on July 20th, 1974 suspended everything. The Greek residents of Kyrenia amidst bombings by Turkish airplanes were scattered in fear, and took shelter in basements to protect themselves. Three days after the invasion a cease fire agreement was concluded. The Turkish troops, defying the agreement, invaded the town, plundered and slaughtered many civilians. Most of the residents of Kyrenia who remained there, became enclaved and were taken to the Dome Hotel where they were forced by the Turkish army to gradually leave along with the Greek inhabitants of the rest of the Kyrenia district.
Following the inhumane ethnic cleansing imposed by the Turkish invaders at the expense of the native Greek Cypriots, only a few hundred Maronites were allowed to stay in their villages, yet they were also forced to abandon their homes due to the continuous violations of their human rights by the Turkish army. Today, only a few dozens of them remain enclaved. Out of the ……… British permanent residents of the town and outskirts in 1976, only 180 remained here. The houses, churches, public buildings were looted and systematically destroyed.
Later on, while Turkey spread propaganda about the so-called isolation and suffering of the Turkish Cypriots, she hunted down, killed or forcibly chased out of Cyprus any Turkish Cypriot who disagreed with her policy and arbitrarily brought in settlers in the occupied part of the island. Turkey distributed the properties of native Greek Cypriot inhabitants among the settlers and allowed Turkish businessmen to build and sell, to Europeans and others, country houses which were constructed on Greek Cypriot properties, despite the condemning decisions of the European Court of Human Rights.
It is not difficult to imagine the suffering of the inhabitants of Kyrenia who were forcibly displaced and were deprived of all their possessions. They struggled, beginning from scratch, and they continue to do so. Capable and dignified people as they are, they have survived, their only goal being to return to their land.
THE INHABITANTS OF Kyrenia AFTER 1974
The inhabitants of Kyrenia, despite the fact that they were forced to scatter all over the non-occupied part of the island (while many of them migrated), continue to form a unified community. The native Greek Kyrenia voters as well as the members of the Maronite community exercise their civil rights enlisted in separate election catalogues and they elect their own representatives to the House of Representatives.
The Kyrenia Metropolitan District continues to function despite displacement and is headed by its own Bishop.
Above all, the inhabitants of the small town of Kyrenia rally round the Kyrenia Municipality which is a lively Municipality, in spite of the displacement. The elected Mayor, aided by the municipal council, organizes events which keep the inhabitants of Kyrenia united. On many occasions, in cooperation with the various associations and clubs of the town, they keep alive the local customs and traditions. Mainly, however, they continuously struggle for the human rights of the native citizens of the small town with all available means.
Already, the European Court of Human Rights has recognized to Kyrenia resident Titina Loizidou her inalienable right to her property, with its December 1996 decision (Case of Loizidou v. Turkey, 40/1993/435/514). Turkey has already complied with the decision and paid to Mrs. Loizidou the compensation awarded by the Court for the deprivation of use of her property, which rightfully still belongs to her.
Kyrenia Municipality, undertaking a coordinated effort, has urged more Kyrenia residents to apply to the Court of Human Rights and claim their houses and properties.
Kyrenia Municipality is an active Member of:
The Union of Cyprus Municipalities
The Ancient Greek Mediterranean Trading Ports Association
The Amphictyony of Twinned Cities and Areas in the Mediterranean
It is twinned with:
Pythagorion of Samos
Kyrenia Achaeas – Municipality of Diakofto.
It is temporarily housed in a house which is next to the Green Line in the divided city of Nicosia, at 8 Markou Drakou Street (next to Ledra Palace check point), that was granted to the Municipality by the Cyprus Government.
Kyrenia Town Hall supports and has permanently under its auspices the Kyrenia Folklore Club. The Club, which was established in 1966, is housed within the Town Hall and after the displacement is focused on preparing studies and publications on the civilization, traditions, customs and history of Kyrenia.
Since 2006, the Municipality has its own children’s dancing group and children’s choir.
The Municipality organizes the following annual events:
Pancyprian essay writing competition for elementary school students
Pancyprian painting competition for high school students
Pancyprian essay writing competition for lyceum students
Main activities of the Municipality, which have become an institution after the displacement, are:
Anti-occupation activities, on July 22nd , the day Kyrenia was occupied by the Turkish invaders
The “Greek Letters Day” event on the occasion of the Three Hierarchs Feast Day
Kyrenia artists’ exhibition
Evening mass at Archangel Michael Church, Protector of the city