Today, the Republic of Cyprus is a modern European democracy with a state of the art telecommunications system enjoying direct telephone links with nearly all the countries of the world; one of the largest merchant fleets in the world with 1.932 ships on its registry; and over 1.000 international business companies operating from fully-fledged offices in Cyprus.
The European Union is Cyprus’ main trading partner absorbing more than 50% of local domestic exports and providing more than 50% of imports.
Despite the heavy blow brought about by Turkey’s military invasion in 1974 resulting in the loss of 65% of hotels as well as the Nicosia international airport, growth in the tourist sector was rapid. Today, tourism is one of the major sectors of the Cyprus economy. In 2004 2.35 million tourists visited Cyprus generating cЈ988 million* in foreign exchange earnings, compared to 25.700 tourist arrivals in 1960 with cЈ1,8 million in foreign exchange earnings.
Cyprus’ healthy climate, natural beauty, archaeological wealth, highly educated population, high standard of services offered, as well as the traditional warm hospitality of its people, make the island an ideal holiday destination.
Significant progress has also been made in the social sphere. In 2001 over 68,4% families owned their own homes. Illiteracy, which in 1961 was about 20%, today is practically non-existent. Cyprus holds a very high position internationally as far as third-level education is concerned. The total number of third-level students at home and abroad during 2003-2004 was 38.480. In 1992 the island acquired its own State University.
Medical care, both public and private, is of high standard and continuously improving. Infant mortality has dropped from 40 per 1000 live births in 1960 to 4,1 in 2003. The average life expectancy has risen from 65 years in 1950 to 81,4 for women and 77 years for men in 2003. The number of persons per doctor has fallen from 1.470 in 1961 to 384 in 2003.
The steadfast commitment to safeguard the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus, along with the progress achieved in all fields of activity since independence, as well as the determination to always be an active and constructive EU partner, form the foundations of the island’s continuing struggle for the restoration of freedom and justice throughout its territory.
The UN has undertaken several initiatives to solve the Cyprus problem and reunite Cyprus, with several rounds of intercommunal negotiations held since 1975. Progress, however, has invariably been obstructed by the Turkish side which has sought a settlement that in effect would leave Cyprus divided and hostage to foreign interests, whereas the Greek Cypriot community insists on the genuine reunification of the island, free from foreign interference and with all its people enjoying the benefits of EU membership in a reintegrated economy.
The latest effort of the UN resulted in the presentation of a plan by the UN Secretary-General for a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem.
On 24 April 2004 the people of Cyprus were asked to approve or reject the UN Secretary-General’s proposal (Annan Plan V) through separate, simultaneous referenda by the two communities. A clear majority of 75,8% Greek Cypriots rejected the proposed Annan Plan because they felt that the finalised text was not balanced and did not meet their main concerns regarding security, functionality and viability of the solution; 64,9% of the Turkish Cypriots voted in favour of the plan. By their vote the Greek Cypriots have obviously not rejected the reunification of Cyprus, which remains their primary goal, but only the particular Plan which was put before them because it did not lead to the genuine unification of the island and the reintegration of its people and economy.
The people of Cyprus long for a viable and durable settlement that would enable both Greek and Turkish Cypriots to live amicably with each other as they had done for centuries in the past and enjoy together the benefits of EU membership. In a united country that is an integral part of the European Union, the people of Cyprus would be able to maximize the potential of their cultural diversities and share in the prosperity and peace that will come about.