Will Sri Lanka Become Another Cyprus? by Victor Rajakulendran

ntensive efforts are being made in Sri Lanka by the International Community (IC) to restart the stalled Norwegian facilitated peace process between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Sri Lankan government. Through this peace process, the IC is trying to prevent the island of Sri Lanka getting divided into two separate entities. At this time it is very relevant and worthy to have an insight into the failed efforts of the International Community (IC) in Cyprus to keep this divided island together as one country.

A brief comparison

Cyprus

Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, 9,250 sq km in size and located south of Turkey. Out of the 771,657 people living in this island about 80% are Greek Orthodox community and about 18% are Turkish Moslem community and the rest are Maronite, Latin and Armenian minorities. There are three languages spoken amongst the people of Cyprus namely Greek, Turkish and English.

Cyprus has been ruled by more than two dozen nations, by medieval knights, and self appointed kings during its long and turbulent history. Its rulers have always been one of the strongest powers in the region, whose rule deeply influenced the island in matters of religion, trade, culture, language, way of life and politics.

During the Latin period of 380 years, (1191-1571) the Greek Orthodox Church in Cyprus was oppressed and subordinated by the ruling Latin tyrants who were Catholics. The lands and property of the Greek Orthodox Church were confiscated and given to the Roman Catholics. The independent Orthodox Archbishopric was totally suppressed. Orthodox churches were closed and the Greek bishops were deported to remote parts of the island.

Ottoman invasion of Cyprus in 1570 brought an end to this Latin domination and for the next 308 years migration of Turkish people from Turkey occurred. Since 1572 in Cyprus, two distinct nations of people existed. One is the Cypriot Greeks, the remnants of early invaders, and the other, is Turkish Cypriots, the ancestors of the Turks from mainland Turkey, who were settled in the island a year after the Ottoman Conquest, in 1572 and the following years.

The British took over the administration of Cyprus in 1878, in exchange for providing

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