You may find information on the history of the Cyprus problem, its latest developments and relevant issues on the following websites:
Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Press and Information Office,
Presidency of the Republic of Cyprus.
Brief introduction to the Cyprus’ Question
The Republic of Cyprus became an independent sovereign state on 16 August 1960. Greece, Turkey and Britain were to stand as guarantors of the country’s independence under the Zurich-London agreements and Britain would retain two sovereign base areas. Political power was to be shared between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots on a 7:3 ratio. In addition, the Turkish Cypriot community had veto rights on major issues.
Relations between the two communities had for centuries been peaceful and amicable. However, certain provisions of the Zurich-London agreements and the 1960 Constitution were to prove conducive to constitutional deadlock, domestic conflict and foreign interference, rather than peace, harmony and respect for the sovereignty of Cyprus.
Efforts to amend the Constitution were rejected by the Turkish side, with the Turkish Cypriot leadership falling in line with Turkey’s long-term policy of segregation and partition. This resulted in the intercommunal clashes of 1963-64, the drawing of the dividing “green line” running through Nicosia and the constant efforts on the part of Turkish Cypriot extremists to promote Turkey’s partitionist and expansionist designs.
On 15 July 1974, the military junta ruling Greece carried out a coup against the democratically elected government of Cyprus. Using this criminal act as a pretext, Turkey, in violation of international law and the United Nations Charter, invaded Cyprus and since then continues to illegally occupy by the use of military force about 37% of the Republic’s territory. The dire consequences of this invasion, occupation and forcible division have been violations of human rights, massive colonization of areas under occupation, property usurpation, the destruction of cultural heritage and ethnic separation.
About 180,000 Greek Cypriots – a third of the population- were displaced, becoming refugees in their own country, while the Turkish Cypriots were compelled to move to the occupied part of the island in compliance with Turkey’s policy of ethnic segregation. Over 4,000 persons were killed during the invasion, while 1,400 Greek Cypriots remain missing.
43,000 Turkish troops continue to occupy the island illegally. Over the years, some 160,000 colonists from Turkey were brought to Cyprus and settled in the occupied area, in violation of international law, with the aim of changing the demography of the island. In view of the mass emigration of Turkish Cypriots from the occupied area (due to the conditions created by Turkey’s occupation) the total number of Turkey’s troops and settlers is now much greater than that of the remaining Turkish Cypriots.
The international community has stated repeatedly and categorically its support for the internationally recognised sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole of its territory, including the occupied part. United Nations resolutions reaffirm, inter alia, the right of the Republic of Cyprus and its people to full and effective control over the entire territory of Cyprus and natural and other resources and call upon all states to support and help the Government of the Republic to exercise these rights (United Nations General Assembly resolution 37/253, of 13 May 1983).
In 1983 the occupation regime, with Turkey’s encouragement and endorsement, arbitrarily and unilaterally declared the independence of the occupied part of Cyprus. The Security Council of the United Nations by its resolution 541 (1983) deplored this declaration, considered it as legally invalid and called for its withdrawal. Furthermore, by its resolution 550 (1984), the Security Council condemned all secessionist actions and called upon all states not to recognise the purported entity, the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” and not to facilitate or in any way assist the secessionist entity.
By the same resolutions as well as by a number of other resolutions the United Nations called upon the international community not to recognise any Cypriot state other than that of the Republic of Cyprus and to respect its sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and unity.
The independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as the legality of its internationally recognised Government have been recognised repeatedly in numerous resolutions and decisions of other international bodies too, such as the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement, etc. The international community, with the sole exception of Turkey which prompted the purported declaration of independence of the occupied part, recognises only one state in Cyprus, the Republic of Cyprus and its legal Government.
In the year 2011, more than thirty thirty-seven years later, the “Cyprus Question” or “Cyprus Problem”, as it is commonly referred to, remains unresolved. Turkey’s actions have been condemned by unanimous UN Security Council resolutions, UN General Assembly resolutions, international court decisions, and decisions by other major international and regional organizations. But most of these resolutions and decisions remain unimplemented. As a result, the Republic of Cyprus remains forcibly divided and occupied.
The Government and the people of Cyprus remain committed to a viable settlement that would allow the genuine, peaceful and secure reunification of their country. Consistent with this outlook, the Cyprus government has been working systematically towards creating the necessary conditions for substantial and constructive negotiations under UN auspices, which will in turn lead to an agreed, functional and lasting settlement to the Cyprus problem.
On 8 July 2006, President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Tassos Papadopoulos and the leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat signed an agreement on a “Set of Principles”, They reaffirmed their commitment to reunify Cyprus on the basis of a bi-zonal bi-communal federation and agreed on procedures to prepare the ground for comprehensive negotiations toward that end. The implementation of this Agreement was undermined by the intransigence of the Turkish side.
In order to move the process forward, H.E. the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Demetris Christofias, sought, immediately after his inauguration on 28 February 2008, to meet with the Turkish Cypriot leader in yet another effort to achieve a breakthrough and to set in motion a process that would bring about direct negotiations between the two communities.
At their first meeting, on 21 March 2008, President Christofias and Mr. Talat decided to proceed with the setting up of a number of Working Groups and Technical Committees, and their respective agendas. They also decided to meet in three months to evaluate the work of the Working Groups and Technical Committees, with a view to starting full fledged negotiations under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General. Additionally, they agreed on the opening of the Ledra Street crossing, which finally took place on 3 April 2008.
On 23 May 2008, President Christofias and Mr. Talat issued a Joint Statement where the two leaders “reaffirmed their commitment to bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality, as defined by relevant UN Security Council Resolutions. This partnership will have a Federal Government with a single international personality…”
On 25 July 2008, President Christofias and Turkish Cypriot leader Talat reviewed the work of the Technical Committees and Working Groups. Based on the progress made, as well as on the clarification of the basis of the solution achieved during their meetings, they decided to “start full-fledged negotiations on 3 September 2008, under the good offices of the United Nations Secretary General”.
Since the start of the full-fledged negotiations, there have been several rounds of talks between President Christofias and Mr. Talat, as well as a number of meetings of the Working Groups and Technical Committees. During the talks, some common understanding was reached regarding certain aspects of the solution; however, important divergences remain, due to the provocative and unconstructive stance of the Turkish side and its unwillingness to sincerely commit to a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem.
The change of leadership in the Turkish Cypriot community, with the “election” of Mr. Dervis Eroglu in April 2010, casts further doubts on the negotiations. Recalling Mr. Eroglu’s long-held positions on the Cyprus problem, his “election” creates reasonable worries as regards the prospects of resolving the problem. The first meeting between President Christofias and Mr. Eroglou took place on 26 May 2010.
The negotiations are continuing to this day and the Government of the Republic of Cyprus remains committed to seeking a mutually acceptable solution to the Cyprus problem, which will benefit both Greek and Turkish Cypriots alike. In the meantime, the Government continues to introduce initiatives to promote trust and economic integration between the two communities.