On October 1st, a bank holiday in Cyprus, we celebrate our Independence Day with festivals at schools and communities and a big military parade in capital city Nicosia.
According to the Zurich-London Treaty, Cyprus becomes an independent republic on 16th August 1960 with the charismatic Archbishop Makarios III as the first president who had already been elected on March 1st, 1959. Cyprus also becomes a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Commonwealth, and the Non-Aligned Movement. According to the above treaty, Britain retains two Soverign Bases (158.5 sq.km) on the island. The Greek Cypriots alternating support for independence and union with Greece, and the efforts of the Turkish Cypriots towards partition of the island, in combination with the military and strategic aims of the Great powers at various times lead to a friction between both sides escalating into violence in 1963.
Between 1963 and 1974, talks between the two communities were held in an effort to find a mutually acceptable formula. However, the situation was dramatically altered in July 1974 when the military junta that was then ruling Greece staged a coup d'etat against Makarios announcing that Makarios was dead. The President had escaped to Paphos and from there he addressed the people of Cyprus through a local radio station. This triggered a huge wave of enthusiasm amongst the Greek Cypriots who were relieved to know that their beloved leader was alive.
Turkey, on the other hand, taking advantage of the situation and purporting to act under the Treaty of Guarantee attacked Cyprus on July 20, 1974. The Turkish Aggression caused heavy loss of life both in the battle field and during attacks on civilians including children and old people. In addition to this bloody invasion, illegal immigrants from Turkey were brought to inhabit the northern occupied part of the island. To this day, the island remains divided in two parts: the Republic of Cyprus which has been an official member of the European Union since 2004 and the illegally occupied area in the north.