The Green Line in Cyprus

Forty Nine Years On

As a conclusion to this story (completed in 2017) it is useful, yet sobering to consider a number of extracts from "The Impartial Soldier" by Brigadier Michael Harbottle.
Between June 1966 and August 1968, Brigadier Harbottle was the Chief of Staff of UNFICYP (United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus) and in 1968 wrote the memoirs of his service in Cyprus.


Following the drawing of the Green Line through Nicosia by General Young and his staff in December 1963:
Little did anyone at that table that night, least of all General Young, think that the green ribbon of chinagraph would become a dividing line between Turk and Greek Cypriot in Nicosia across which neither would step voluntarily for four years; an unremitting obstacle to progress towards normalization between the two communities.

The purpose of the line:
The Line was an immediate measure to separate the contestants and to ensure a workable cease-fire arrangement.

The duration of the line:
It was never meant to be anything but a temporary measure, and certainly was never intended to acquire such a protracted inter­national significance. 

Criticisms of the line:
I doubt if there is any formula which could provide a better answer to the immediate problem, but one lesson that might be learnt from Cyprus is that, whatever the immediate expediency, any agreement of this kind should include a time-limit on its existence. 

The future of the line:
The day that the Green Line disappears from the face of the Cyprus map, I believe a new confidence will emerge which will herald a major step forward in the relationship between Greeks and Turks. For the present it remains symptomatic of racial separatism.

Unintentional clairvoyance:
Had not General Young succeeded in getting agreement to this vital and immediate safeguard, many more people would have died; and it is a reasonable supposition that Turkey would have intervened physically with its armed forces to secure the safety and the political identity of the Turkish Cypriot people. 

All the above comments were written in 1968, just four years after the Green Line was, in 2017 we are a further forty nine years on.

Newspaper headline dated May 26th 2017.

Newspaper headlines and comments dated July 9th 2017