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The Cyprus Question
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    On 15 July 1974 the ruling military junta of Greece staged a coup to overthrow the democratically elected Government of Cyprus.

    On 20 July 1974, Turkey, using the coup as a pretext and in complete violation of international law and order, invaded Cyprus, purportedly to restore constitutional order. In a two-phase invasion and despite calls by the UN Security Council, Turkey occupied 36,2% of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Cyprus, an act which was universally condemned as a gross infringement of international law and the UN Charter. Turkey,

    The invasion and occupation has had disastrous consequences for the people of Cyprus and the economy of the island. The main consequences were:

    Refugees: About 142,000 Greek Cypriots living in the north – nearly one quarter of the population of Cyprus – were forcibly expelled from their homes and properties in the occupied northern part of the island where they constituted 80% of the population. These people are still deprived of the right to return to their homes and properties. A further 20,000 Greek Cypriots enclaved in the occupied area were gradually forced through intimidation and denial of their basic human rights to abandon their homes, therefore bringing the number of Greek Cypriot refugees as a result of the Turkish invasion to over 160,000.

    Illegal Exploitation of Greek Cypriot Properties in the Occupied Area of Cyprus: Following the invasion and the forceful eviction of over 160,000 Greek Cypriots from their lands and homes in the northern occupied part of Cyprus, Turkey introduced to that part of the island a very well orchestrated and organized colonization policy, which continues unhindered to date, in an attempt to enforce ethnic separation and alter the demographic structure and composition of the island. As part of their colonization policy, Turkey illegally distributed, and continues to do so today, most of the Greek Cypriot owned properties in the occupied part of Cyprus to Turkish mainland settlers, who were brought over to Cyprus by Turkey herself. Unfortunately, and despite various European Court of Human Rights Judgements as well as a Judgement by a Republic of Cyprus Court which have called on Turkey to allow Greek Cypriots to use and enjoy their properties, Turkey continues to deny the Greek Cypriot legal owners access, control, use and enjoyment of their property in the occupied area of Cyprus.

    Enclaved: In the aftermath of the Turkish invasion in 1974, about 20,000 people - mainly Greek Cypriots including just over a thousand Maronites - found themselves cut off behind enemy lines in their villages in the north-eastern Karpass peninsula and in the Maronite villages west of Kyrenia town.

    This group of people, known as the enclaved, remained in their villages in the hope that, following the ceasefire, they would be able, unperturbed, to carry on with their normal way of life. Unfortunately their hopes were soon frustrated. The illegal Turkish occupation regime adopted a policy of oppression, human rights violations and harassment, in an effort to drive these people out of their homes and properties. As a result of the continuous human rights abuses and harassment, the number of the enclaved gradually declined dramatically over the years and, sadly, by 2006 only 526 people, mostly elderly, remain in the occupied area (Greek Cypriots and Maronites).

    Missing Persons: About 1,500 Greek Cypriot civilians and soldiers disappeared during and after the invasion. Many had been arrested and some were seen in prisons in Turkey and Cyprus before their disappearance. The fate of all but a handful remains unknown. To resolve this humanitarian issue it is essential to have Turkey’s cooperation.

    Colonization and Altering of the Demographic Structure of the Occupied Area of Cyprus: Since its 1974 invasion and subsequent occupation of 36,2% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus, Turkey has maintained a policy of bringing in thousands of Anatolian colonists to settle in the occupied area, thus changing the demographic character of the island. Unfortunately, demographic analyses clearly show widespread emigration of the indigenous Turkish Cypriots, who are systematically replaced by an even greater number of illegal colonists from Turkey. Today, it is estimated that the illegal Turkish settlers far outnumber the Turkish Cypriots by almost two to one. Turkish settlers are estimated at around 162,000 compared to the 88,000 Turkish Cypriots.

    Destruction of Cultural Heritage: Since the 1974 invasion and subsequent occupation of the northern part of Cyprus by Turkey, more than 200 churches, chapels and monasteries that are located in the Turkish occupied north of the island have been desecrated, converted into mosques, and/or used as military depots, hospitals, stockyards, nightclubs etc. Their ecclesiastical items, including more than 15,000 icons, have been illegally removed and their location remains unknown.

    In the economic front, the results of the invasion were also devastating on the Cyprus economy and society since about 30% of the economically active population became unemployed at that time. The invasion also led to the dramatic loss of the following resources, which were the island’s most valuable:

    § 70% of the gross output
    § 65% of the tourist accommodation capacity
    § 87% of hotel beds under construction
    § 83% of the general cargo handling capacity (Famagusta port)
    § 56% of mining and quarrying output
    § 41% of livestock production
    § 48% of agricultural exports
    § 46% of industrial production
    § 20% of state forests
    § 36,2% of housing stock
    § 38,3% of school buildings

    On 15 November 1983 the illegal regime established in the occupied area of Cyprus by Turkey unilaterally declared itself an independent “state”. The international community, through UN Security Council Resolutions 541 (1983) and 550 (1984), condemned this unilateral declaration by the Turkish Cypriot regime, declared it both illegal and invalid, and called for its immediate revocation. To this day, no country in the world except Turkey has recognized this illegal secessionist entity.

    Negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus problem have been going on intermittently since 1975 under the auspices of the United Nations. The basis for the solution of the Cyprus problem are the UN Security Council resolutions and two high-level agreements concluded between the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot leaders in 1977 and 1979.

    For more information you can visit:

    Ministry of Foreign Affairs website

    Press and Information Office





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