National Day 2017
Cyprus National Day is a public holiday in Cyprus and is recognised on 1 April each year. It is also known to some as Greek Cypriot National Day.
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Cyprus had been under British administration since 1878 after the island was handed over in an agreement with the Ottoman Empire for British military support, if needed, against Russia.
On 1 April 1955, a guerilla organisation was established. It was called Ethnikí Organósis Kipriakóu Agónos (EOKA), or the National Organisation of the Cypriot Struggle, and fought for Cyprus’s independence from colonial Britain, and for union with Greece (known as enosis). The organisation was established by Archbishop Makarios III and led by General George Grivas.
In the four years following, EOKA fought against British installations in Cyprus with bombings and armed warfare. The British troops were temporarily depleted due to the Suez Crisis but, in 1957, the British Army sent in extra forces and sought out the hideouts in the mountains.
During this time, Archbishop Makarios III was exiled. In 1958, he agreed to accept independence only for Cyprus, rather than union with Greece, which was becoming more difficult to attain. In February 1959, the United Kingdom, Turkey and Greece signed an agreement with Cyprus in Zurich and the EOKA guerilla forces disbanded.
The agreement declared that the State of Cyprus would become a republic with a Greek President, a Turkish Vice President, the national languages of Greece and Turkey, and its own flag. The agreement came into practical effect later in 1960.
Today the public holiday is largely a day of rest and relaxation for the people of Cyprus. In the lead up to the holiday, schools reinforce the lessons about EOKA and the Zurich Agreement. On the day, many attend religious services.