Sunday, 9 December 2007

Achaean Coast: the enclaved of Agia Triada

The video above was made by the Cypriot artist Toula Liasi as a tribute to the enclaved Greeks from the village of Agia Triada in the remote Karpas peninsular, which has been under Turkish occupation since Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974.

Agia Triada, a satellite village of Yialousa, had an exclusively Greek population of some 1,400 in 1974, whose rights to stay on their land and carry on their lives unimpeded, after the invasion, were supposed to have been guaranteed and regulated by the Third Vienna Agreement of 1975.

But the Turks never honoured this agreement and as a result of violent and bureaucratic means the number of Greeks living in Agia Triada has dwindled to around 100, mainly elderly people who, despite daily pressure and harassment from the Turkish occupation regime and the hundreds of Turkish settlers dumped on the village, refuse to leave.

Toula Liasi is from Agia Triada and her parents remain enclaved in the village, and in 2004 she documented these unlikely heroes and heroines – these Cypriot resistance fighters – in an exhibition shown in Nicosia called Αχαιών Ακτή.

Αχαιών Ακτή/Achaean Coast (Achaean being the Homeric name for Greeks) is the stretch of coast off Agia Triada where the first Mycenaean Greeks are said to have landed on Cyprus in the 1300s BC. These pioneer Mycenaeans were traders, and were joined in Cyprus over the next two centuries by refugees fleeing the collapse of Mycenaean civilisation and Dorian invasion in Greece.

The Greek geographer Strabo writing in the first century AD presents a (more mythical) variation on the theme of Mycenaean colonisation of Cyprus and the naming of Αχαιών Ακτή. He states that Achaean Coast is where the locals believed that Tefkros, after the Trojan war – having failed to prevent the suicide of his brother, Ajax the Great, and consequently condemned to exile by their father, King Telamon of Salamis, the island-kingdom 16km west of Athens – landed with his companions to initiate the Greek presence in Cyprus.

Tefkros, the legend continues, went on to found Salamis in eastern Cyprus – 6km north of occupied Famagusta, 45km south of Yialousa – which became the pre-eminent city-state in ancient Cyprus, and a bastion of Greek culture on the island.

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