Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, arose out of the eastern Mediterranean. And Othello, the Moor, at the service of the Venetians, was sent to Famagusta to ward off the Turks in Shakespeare’s play.
In 1571 the Venetians were defeated and the island became part of the Ottoman Empire. A pawn in relations between the Ottoman and British Empires, in 1914 it became a British colony. To thwart the island’s struggle for independence, the British set its two communities against each other. The Republic of Cyprus was founded in 1960 and lasted three years followed by attempts at ethnic cleansing by both sides, with massacres, persecutions and looting. In the summer of 1974, the Colonels in Greece organised a coup in Nicosia to bring Cyprus under Greek control. Turkey, one of the four guarantors of the violated inter-ethnic agreement, then invaded the island to protect the Turkish community. Ankara embarked on a war that split the two communities and the country across the middle, resulting in internal migrations and land grabs, 2,000 people unaccounted for and 10,000 casualties.