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The Cyprus split widens. Reunion of Greeks, Turks seems ever more distant on this strategic island

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The Greek-Cypriot taxi driver, without taking his eyes off the road, nonchalantly points at the hills to the east on the way from Larnaca to Nicosia.

About a half mile away, at the top of a dusty hill, sat a guard post surmounted by the Turkish flag, snapping in the brisk afternoon wind.

''There they are,'' he remarks, adding after a brief pause, ''and there they will probably remain.''

''They'' are the Turks.

''You are a journalist, are you not?'' he continued. ''When you leave, write just one thing: Tell the world that we will never see our homes again unless the Americans stop helping the Turks.''

It was an appropriate introduction to Cyprus.

July 15 will mark the 10th anniversary of the overthrow, engineered by Greek Army officers, of Cyprus's late President Archbishop Makarios. Five days later, Turkey invaded. These events ripped the island in two and introduced an element of instability on NATO's eastern flank.

A decade has in no way erased the sense of loss that followed the coup and the invasion that sent 200,000 Greek Cypriots from the north - nearly a third of the country's total population - flooding to the south.

Much has changed over the past 10 years as both sides have sought with varying success to rebuild their lives. But a solution that would reunite the country and rid it of foreign military forces seems more distant than ever.

Last Nov. 15, Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash unilaterally declared an independent Turkish-Cypriot state in the north of the island, despite virtually universal international condemnation of the move. He has set dates for a referendum on a new constitution (Aug. 19) and general elections (Nov. 4) and threatened to open part of Varosha, a deserted Greek-Cypriot suburb of Famagusta , ''which in no way will be given to Greeks, but to our people,'' Mr. Denktash said in an interview.

''Having condemned us,'' Denktash complained, ''how can you (the United States) ask a condemned man to stop breathing, to stop eating. . . . You condemned me outright, you cut all contact with me, you pronounced the Greek Cypriots are my government.


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