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The Kyrenia District

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CYPRUS: One of the cradles of European Civilisation in peril

CYPRUS: So close to Europe and yet it was left exposed to aggression. It continues to be divided, its demographic character illegally changed by Turkish Settlers being brought in, from Turkey and the Cypriot people are still suffering the consequences of the Turkish aggression.


Greek through the centuries... The town of Kyrenia as well as the neighbouring town of Lapithos, which is situated 8 miles west of Kyrenia, were centres of Greek Kingdoms in ancient times. The history of Hellenism in this area begins as early as 13th century B.C. when the Mycenaean Greeks came to Cyprus.

East of Kyrenia lays the «Coast of Achaeans». Here, according to Strabol (14.682.3), Teucer came ashore, the man who established Salamis after the Trojan war. Moreover many other testimonies from ancient writers, apart from the great number of archaeological findings, testify to the Greek character of Kyrenia since the dawn of history.

Skylax («Periplus» Muller 1, p. 77.103) says that «Near Cilicia there is the island of Cyprus and many towns in it, the following: Salamis, Karpasia, Kyrenia, Lapithos, Soli, Marion, and all Greek”.

The name Kyrenia is very common in the ancient Greek world. Even today there is a mountain in the Peloponnesus called Kyrenia, from where the first Greeks came to Cyprus. Kyrenia was built soon after Trojan war by Kefeas, a Greek from Achaea (Lycofron st. 856).

Lapithos was built by Praxandros who came from Laconia (Sparta). Strabo (14.682.3) says that «there is a town called Lapithos which has a harbour and shipyards and was built by Laconians and Praxandros».

Lapithos was named after the Greek hero Lapithos (12th century B.C.) who died in battle there, as Nonnos says in his «Dionysiaka» (15.422.450).

The Greek character of the region and the existence of Greek Kingdoms were preserved through the ancient times although Cyprus was occupied successively by the Assyrians (8-6th century B.C.), the Egyptians (6th century B.C.) and the Persians (6-4th century B.C).

During the victorious campaigns of Alexander the great against the Persian Empire, this Greek region happily found its freedom. During the wars which followed Alexander’s the great death, the Greek Kingdoms of Cyprus were divided in supporting the belligerent successors of the Great Macedonian.

Diadorous Siculus (19.79) says that in 312 B.C. Ptolemy arrested Praxipos the king of Lapithos and the king of Kyrenia, because they were on the side of Antigonos of Syria. At this time, i.e. the end of 4th century B.C. dates the wreck of an ancient Greek commercial ship and remains of its cargo which were found (by a Kyrenian diver Andreas Kariolou) and salvaged by an archaeological mission of the University of Pennsylvania, in the Kyrenia Sea.

During the Roman occupation of Cyprus a Greek inscription of 42-43 A.D. was erected by Kyrenia city Council in honour of its benefactor Tiberious Chandrias Aenias. This inscription was discover in 1898 and constitutes an indisputable proof of the Geek character of the region.

The people of Kyrenia were converted to Christianity during the first years of the Christian era, following the teaching of Saint Barnabas, as it is cited in the life of Saint Afxivios.

St. Barnabas has preached Christianity in this region together with St. Marc (46 A.D.) The Byzantine Empire succeeded the Roman occupation and ruled Cyprus till 1191 A.D. During this time along with Kyrenia flourished the city of Lampousa, the ruins of which are near the Greek village of Karavas. Here, the famous silver discs of Lampousa (7th century B.C.) were found, which now are in the Metropolitan Museum of New York, the British Museum and the Cyprus Museum. These discs as well as many other works of art, such as icons, mosaics, churches, and monasteries, such as the monastery of «Panayia Achiropiitos», the monastery of Antifonitis, etc. clearly reveal the profound Christian faith of the Greek population of Kyrenia.

The Frankish occupation of Cyprus (1191 -1489) was followed by the Venetian (1489-1570/71), the Turkish (1571-1878) and the English occupations (1878-1960).

In 1571 Sultan Selim II, after the conquest of Famagusta and just before the sea battle of Lepanto, occupied the famous Kyrenia castle and city.

The conquerors came and left and in 1960 Cyprus was declared an independent Republic. The Greek inhabitants of the region had always lived peacefully and in harmony with the small number of Cypriot Turks.
The conquerors who occupied Cyprus and Kyrenia were many, but Kyrenia preserved, since the 13th century B.C., its Greek character in all aspects of life, its Greek civilisation and language, because the Greek roots in the region of Kyrenia are historically so deep that no unjust and inhuman invasion, or, the barbarous displacement of its people by Attilas in 1974, can obliterate.

The testimony of figures...

The following facts show the Greek character of the Kyrenia District:


Population distribution in the Kyrenia District in accordance with the official survey carried out in 1960 , when Cyprus was declared an Independent country:

Greeks 24,434 78.7%
Turks 4,298 13.8%
Others 2,283 7.5%

Population distribution in Kyrenia and villages in 1960 Survey:

Greek villages 35 76.9%
Turkish villages 8 17.3%
Mixed villages 3 5.8%

Land ownership:

Greek     83.5%
Turkish   16.5%


Economically active population: (40% of the total all over Cyprus)

Greeks 11,000
Turks 2,000 - 80% were farmers
Others 200

Lemon production in 1973 (i.e. the year before the Turkish invasion):

Greek producers 145 million lemons
Turkish producers 5 million lemons

Other economic activities:

Industries 284 units 575 employees 98% Greek ownership
Services 590 units 1,625 employees 96% Greek ownership
Commercial Business 298 units 1.128 employees 96% Greek ownership
Building contractors 385 units 609 employees 97% Greek ownership
Transportation Storing and Communication Business 241 units 389 employees 99% Greek ownership

Hotel and apartments on 20.7.1974 (just before the Turkish invasion):

  Greek owned Turkish owned Joint Greek/Turkish ownership
Kyrenia Town Operating 2,140 - -
Elsewhere in the District Operating 760
Under Construction -
- -
TOTAL 4,300 - 92

And the inhabitants of the Kyrenia District wonder...

Would it be justice if the rightful owners, who as it is shown above, in their great majority are Greek Cypriots, are to be deprived of their fundamental right to return to their ancestral homes and property, in order to accommodate a solution, on the basis of the situation created by the force of arms? , or as it is otherwise presented: on the basis of the “realities of today”?

Similarly, would it be justice if the large majority of the rightful land owners are to be deprived of the ownership of their land so that a solution can be accommodated?

Under those circumstances where is the application of the provision of Article 13 (1) of the international Declaration of Human Rights which states that:

« Every person has the right of freedom of movement and the free choice of residence within any country»?

Where is the application of the provision of Article 17 (2) of the international Declaration of Human Rights which states that?

« No one shall be arbitrarily deprived the ownership of his property? »

Can it be ignored that ….

• Cyprus, one of the cradles of European Civilisation, is now in peril?

• Aphrodite (Venus), goddess of beauty, love and corporal harmony, was born in Cyprus where she had her sanctuary, well known in antiquity, at Palaepaphos town (modern Kouklia village)? Praised and glorified by writers, poets, painters and Musicians from Homer to Horace, Shakespeare, Botticelli and Wagner, she exercised a unique influence in the artistic and cultural creation of Europe.

• Cyprus is also the birthplace of European Christianity? The place where the first Eponymous European high ranking officer adopted Christianity? It was in A.D. 46, in the governor’s palace at ancient Nea Paphos (modern Kato Paphos) where the Roman proconsul of the island, Sergius Paulus, became a Christian, the first European official known by his name.

• Cyprus, this inseparable part of European culture, is since 1974 in peril, due to Turkish aggression and expansionism …?

•Customs, Culture


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