MODERN GREECE AND TURKEY: Independence didn't make things quieter. By 1963 the acrimony between Greek and Turkish Cypriots had turned to violence. The following year the United Nations arrived to keep the peace. More than a half-century on they're still there, mainly patrolling the so-called "Green Line" buffer zone. Cyprus split into an internationally recognized, Greek-speaking south and a breakaway Turkish-speaking north in 1974 — when Turkey invaded after a coup by supporters of union with Greece. Tens of thousands became refugees after they were displaced from their homes. A series of attempts to reunify the island have all ended in failure, most notably in 2004 when Greek Cypriots voted in a referendum against a proposed peace deal.
TODAY'S SPAT: Cyprus' entry into the European Union in 2004 and adoption of the euro four years later were meant to put it on the path of stability and prosperity. Instead the eurozone debt crisis has upended Cyprus' dreams. The island's shadowy and outsized banking system and its over-reliance on Russian money have turned it into the latest country needing a bailout to avert collapse. In an unprecedented move, the EU said last weekend that depositors would have to cough up funds for the country's bailout — effectively amounting to a seizure of savings. That has infuriated Russia, which has billions deposited in Cypriot banks — much of the money believed to be laundered illegal gains. The EU's calls for depositors to effectively pay for a large chunk of Cyprus' bailout have not only raised fears of disastrous bank runs; they have also put Europe on a political collision course with an increasingly assertive Moscow. Cyprus has also recently discovered significant off-shore gas deposits — that means it will likely remain in the gaze of big powers for decades to come.
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