The Thick of It


Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I shielded myself from the onset of winter with a couple of weeks in Cyprus. I have visited the island many times. Politics runs through the island.and I have over recent years started venturing into the Turkish occupied Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. Turkish troops have occupied around 37% of the island since 1974, while British troops occupy 3% with two Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia. I was pleased to read today that Britain is to propose returning half of the SBA land, to both sides of the divide, in order to help achieve a lasting peace.

Having only been divided 35 years ago, the occupation is still felt by many. The unresolved issues of compensation for land for people who had to move away, on both the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot side is still to be resolved. For many years there looked to be little hope for a mutually agreed solution. The rejection of the Annan Plan in 2004, which sought to unify the island as a confederation, looked to hold back peace.  The election of left wing leaders on both sides of the border, both committed to negotiation offers a chance for peace. 

The holiday itself was immense fun and included watching Apollon versus Omonia on the Saturday night. The crowd made for a wonderful spectacle, the football somewhat less so. Playing for Apollon was English journeyman Junior Agogo, formerly of 14 clubs, including Bristol Rovers. It made me think, if I was a mediocre English league player, I'd much rather be a relative star and live on a holiday island. Playing on the Greek side, Agogo will get a few more plaudits and the chance to play in UEFA competition, something not yet available for his counterparts in the North's Birinci Lig.

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