Geoff Hazel - Backwards and forwards

Running time
2 min 48 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


In the south in Limassol, you had a lot of Russian expats, and in Paphos, a lot of British expats, basically Limassol was a Russian town, and they were there. Well, there was a lot of trouble in Limassol, cars getting blown up, people getting shot now and then. It was the Greek separate mafia and the Russian mafia trying to control the port. Because through that port a lot of ships would come in there, not unload or anything, but would get new paperwork and sail.

There was a lot of... Yeah, a lot of the money coming into Southern Cyprus was ships of convenience or flags of convenience. Offshore banking were located. We met two Aussies that were there. They were the head office of such and such a bank, but I can't remember which one it was now. But they were just there as figureheads to say that the head office was there. They were paid for basically doing not much at all. But they paid a lot less taxes than they paid anywhere else.

The port was well and truly in Greek Cypriot side, nowhere near the buffer zone. What we did have in some areas living in the south, you had pockets of Turkish Cypriots that were still there. Same as in the north, there were pockets of Greek Cypriots still living there. So we used to go and visit them weekly, to make sure that they weren't being harassed or whatever.

With the ones in the north, we'd take food up to them from the south. And next thing, you'd find them coming back through and delivering the food, selling it in the markets down south. But they didn't really need it, but it was the thing they wanted to do. The military provided the vehicles, and we always sent people along just to talk with local police and keep it calm if anybody was going to get upset, and to do the checking, to make sure they were all right, nothing was being done to hurt them.

The one crossing point that was there... Well, at Pyla, they could go backwards and forward. The Greek Cypriots could come into the village of Pyla and go back out. Turkish Cypriots could come in and go back out. Now some of the Turkish Cypriots actually went through because they were being employed, particularly in the peak tourist season, because they were cheap labour.

At Ledra Palace, what could go backwards and forwards were the Armenians. There was an Armenian community mainly in the north, but they travelled backwards and forwards, and both sides allowed it. They just had to check in. That was the first tour.

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