Diary offers glimpse of 1974 Cyprus war through teenage eyes

Thu Jul 17, 2014 6:38pm EDT
 
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By Michele Kambas

NICOSIA (Reuters) - On a balmy July morning in 1974, Victoria Harwood Butler-Sloss was awoken by the sound of gunfire outside her childhood home in Cyprus’s capital Nicosia.

Aged 13, she started to document a defining moment in one of the world’s most intractable conflicts - a coup against a democratically elected government, engineered by Greece's military junta, triggering a Turkish invasion five days later.

“Machinegun fire, bombs, mortars, guns ... fighting all round house. Only me, mam and Robert,” she wrote in neat script.

Her mother tried to go outside, a bullet whizzed past, and then she, her mother and her brother spent the next few hours huddled in the kitchen. The telephone went dead.

Butler-Sloss started her diary the day Greek Cypriot army tanks rolled into the streets of Nicosia.

Forty years on, and defying the best efforts of many mediators, this east Mediterranean island remains partitioned among its Greek and Turkish Cypriot populations, with Nicosia remaining the last divided capital in Europe.

“I’m still mystified as to why I started writing it,” Butler-Sloss, born on the island of Armenian and British parents, told Reuters. 

“I think it was my way of keeping calm,” said Butler-Sloss, who lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two sons, but frequently returns to Cyprus to visit her mother.   Continued...

 
A view shows the city across Turkish and Greek Cypriot-controlled areas and the United Nations (U.N.) buffer zone in central Nicosia March 12, 2014. REUTERS/Neil Hall