Cyprus conflict

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Cyprus (since 1983)

The Cyprus conflict (also known as the Cyprus question ) exists between Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot dominated areas in Cyprus . During its course, the north of the island (and thus a third of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus ) was occupied by Turkish forces in the summer of 1974 after Greek putschists wanted to enforce the annexation of Cyprus to Greece. In November 1983, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus , which was not recognized internationally, was proclaimed in the Turkish-occupied north , and today forms a stabilized de facto regime .

Although a political solution has so far failed, a phase of good economic and social contacts has emerged today after years of separation.


End of the 19th century until the First World War

Immediately after the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland took over Cyprus in 1878, the Greek Cypriots made the first request to the new ruler to vacate the island. The then Greek Archbishop of Cyprus, Sophronios, asked the first governor of the crown that Cyprus should be united with the "Greek motherland". This was one of the earliest manifestations of enosis (Ένωσις), the union with Greece , which was followed by more.

The Greek Cypriots had great cultural, linguistic and religious similarities in common with Greece and, last but not least, the hope of economic development - because London invested little in the island and the population suffered from hunger and hardship. The two ethnic groups were separated from one another by separate schools, administrations and other institutions and their differences were emphasized. This resulted in increasing animosities and fears between the two ethnic groups who had previously lived together without violent conflicts. These hostilities led to the fact that British rule felt legitimized to remain as a regulating power on the island, in which it had its own geostrategic interests.

The Cypriot Turks were skeptical of the Enosis movement because of the growing hostility. They feared that they would be oppressed or persecuted after the island was annexed to Greece. They advocated a continuation of the colonial status or the re-connection of the island to the Ottoman Empire .

The two world wars and the time in between

Initially, this conflict had no impact on the coexistence of the two ethnic groups. Only in the course of the events of the First World War , the Balkan Wars , the general collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the Greco-Turkish War in 1923, questions of nationality and citizenship among the Greek Cypriots were increasingly discussed. With the establishment of Turkey in 1923, these issues also became more important on the part of the Cypriot Turks, and so tensions on the island increased.

A pro-enosis demonstration in the 1930s

These social tensions erupted in an uprising by the Greek Cypriots against the British colonial rulers, in the course of which in 1931 the governor's house went up in flames. As a result, more than 2,000 Greek Cypriots were arrested, all political parties were banned and press censorship was introduced. Propaganda for the enosis was banned.

After the Second World War

After the Second World War , the call for the enosis grew , but Great Britain did not want to give up the strategically and geopolitically important island. In 1954, Greece began engaging on the side of the Greek Cypriots, and in 1956 Turkey claimed that Cyprus was a continuation of mainland Turkey. The dispute between the islanders thus assumed international proportions. The decision of Archbishop Makarios III was decisive for the further development . and his confidante, General Grivas , to fight for the Enosis by force of arms .

On April 1, 1955, a series of bomb attacks rocked the capital Nicosia , which is regarded as the birth of the "National Organization of Cypriot Fighters" ( EOKA ). The Enosis wanted to fight for this by force of arms. Despite house searches, curfews and mass arrests, the British were unable to control the situation. Therefore, they recruited an "anti-terrorist unit" from parts of the Turkish Cypriot population. At the same time, with the help of Ankara, a Cypriot-Turkish armed organization was formed that tried to bring about the partition of Cyprus, or Taksim in Turkish . On June 7, 1958, a bomb exploded at the Turkish press office in Nicosia. This was the spark that led to the creeping civil war . The British colonial power indirectly supported the tensions, for example by specifically instructing police officers and security forces, each belonging to the other ethnic group, to carry out harassment measures. It was hoped to be able to use the tensions to strengthen colonial rule and to prevent independence struggles. At the same time, Greece and Turkey threatened to go to war over the Cyprus conflict. The USA tried to mediate, and Makarios now also declared that he was not necessarily sticking to the enosis .

Zurich and London agreements

As a result, the Zurich and London Agreements were signed , which consisted of several treaties, agreements and declarations and stipulated that Cyprus should become an independent state. In the guarantee agreement, it was agreed that all four contracting parties (Cyprus, Greece, Turkey, United Kingdom) must ensure that there is no attempt at affiliation or division with regard to Cyprus and that such activities in one of these countries by the respective governments are to be prevented. In the event of a breach of the agreement, the guarantee powers Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom could, if necessary, take single-handed measures with the sole aim of restoring the provisions of the Zurich and London agreements on the island. Some Greeks from Cyprus (e.g. Nikos Sampson ) said that they once again felt patronized by the colonial power of Great Britain because, despite being signed by their representative (Makarios), they believed they had no say in the drafting of the constitution. However, the majority of the Greek Cypriot people supported the constitution, which was also reflected in the fact that the signatory of the agreement (Makarios) was elected president ten months after signing the agreement. The Cyprus-Greek extremist Nikos Sampson cited as a pretext for his enosis efforts that this agreement strengthened the separation of the ethnic groups, as the minority of the Cypriot Turks had a right of veto in all political matters. The constitution, with its multitude of ethnic clauses, made it even more difficult to develop a unified national feeling on the island.

Establishment of the republic

On August 16, 1960, the preparations provided for in the agreement were finally completed and Cyprus became independent. The United Kingdom still had 253 km² of sovereign territory, on which about 16,000 British and Cypriots live: 123 km² west of Limassol near Episkopi and 130 km² east of Larnaka the garrison Dhekelia .

Development between 1960 and 1974

The distribution of the population groups when the republic was founded, 1960

The facts at the time

The majority of the Greek Cypriots and their leadership (including the majority of the population) found themselves in 1960 in a state whose establishment had not met their political goals. The enosis idea was quite popular with conservatives, and the new constitution granted the Cypriot Turks rights that the Cypriot Greeks perceived as exaggerated and unjustified.

For the Turkish Cypriot population, state independence also meant cutting back on original demands, albeit to a lesser extent than on the Greek Cypriot side. On the one hand, the aspirations for partition ( Taksim ) could not be implemented; on the other hand, their political rights were clearly defined in the new constitution, and the guarantee treaties guaranteed protection by the Turkish motherland.

The constitution and its consequences

President Makarios III.  and its Vice President Fazıl Küçük. President Makarios III.  and its Vice President Fazıl Küçük.
President Makarios III. and its Vice President Fazıl Küçük .

The constitution had a strong ethnic orientation: the office of president was always reserved for a Cypriot Greek, that of vice-president for a Cypriot Turk. Both had a right of veto and were elected exclusively by their respective ethnic group. In the Council of Ministers there was a distribution of offices of 7: 3, with the Cypriot Turks having a “hard” ministry such as finance, defense or the foreign ministry. The entire bureaucratic apparatus was also manned at a ratio of 7: 3.

The implementation of this constitution became a political game of forces. On the Greek Cyprus side, the, in their opinion, disproportionate representation of the Cypriot Turks and the right of veto were classified as inadequate, which led to an obstacle to the establishment of central state organs. So it came about B. not to found an army, as the political leaders of both groups could not agree. Finally, the Vice President made use of his right of veto and completely prevented the formation of a force. The structure of the municipal administration in the cities also led to controversy: while the Cypriot Turks favored a separate administration, the Cypriot Greeks opposed it. The administration suffered from numerous mutual vetoes.

The heirs of EOKA

In March 1959, the EOKA had dissolved, as the majority of its members saw their demands met with the independence of the island. However, a minority formed the now terrorist EOKA-B with new goals and was able to draw on a large pool of weapons depots from the old group. At first it terrorized left-wing forces and soon also the supporters of the moderate majority. With the establishment of the Greek junta, it also received support in weapons and material from there. It was not until the beginning of 1974 (after three unsuccessful attacks on President Makarios) that 200 people were arrested who were related to EOKA-B.

The Turkish Cypriot community reacted in early 1962 by setting up the armed organization Türk Mukavemet Teşkilatı (TMT).

Bloody Christmas 1963 and its aftermath

On November 30, 1963, President Makarios submitted a 13-point memorandum to amend the constitution, in which, among other things, the abolition of the right of veto was proposed. The Turkish government rejected these proposals. In this politically tense situation, on December 21, 1963, the Greek Cypriot police carried out a massacre of Turkish Cypriot civilians (" Bloody Christmas 1963 "). After that, violent intermunicipal fighting broke out, in which a total of 1000 Cypriot Turks and at least 200 Cypriot Greeks died. Activist Nikos Sampson later boasted of murdering 200 Turkish women and children. As a result of the fighting and the massacre, almost 100,000 Cypriot Turks fled, primarily to Great Britain , which led to the fact that more Cypriot Turks live there today than in Cyprus itself. On the Cyprus-Greek side there were 165,000, almost 25% of the residents of 1974. 1493 and 502 Cypriot Turks are still missing today.

A direct military confrontation between the NATO partners Greece and Turkey could no longer be ruled out. After the armistice on December 24, 1963, the UN Security Council decided to set up the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus . The two ethnic groups were largely separated. The capital Nicosia was divided by the establishment of a neutral zone ( "Green Line" ), initially monitored by British and later by UN troops , streets such as the traditional Ledra Street were closed. The Cypriot Turkish government and administrative members withdrew from the institutions of the young republic. This ended the “government in partnership”.

There was a significant emigration of the Turkish Cypriot population to self-chosen enclaves . The Cypriot Turks saw and still see this development as a forced displacement, the Cypriot Greeks describe it as a voluntary measure. A Cypriot-Turkish administration developed around the vice-president Fazıl Küçük in the enclaves , and calls for a complete separation of the two population groups were loud.

The conflict up to the coup and the Turkish intervention in the summer of 1974

Ethnic conditions in Cyprus in 1973 according to data from the CIA

The Cypriot Greeks imposed an economic embargo and controlled the access routes to the Turkish enclaves. However, this was lifted again at the urging of the UN. The living conditions in the enclaves were poor, and most of the residents lived below the subsistence level , although they were provided for by Turkish aid deliveries. After the military coup in Greece in April 1967 gave President Makarios definitively from his Enosis -Überzeugung, and advocated the continued independence of Cyprus. The junta in Athens then increased its support for armed anti-Makarios groups. With a neutral stance, a commitment to the non-aligned states and open sympathy for the Soviet Union, Makarios no longer had any support in the western world, so that the extremists felt strengthened in their stance. In November 1967, as Commander in Chief of the National Guard, Grivas provoked renewed clashes between the Cypriot Turks and the Cypriot Greeks through aggressive action.

As a result, President Makarios was re-elected in February 1968. In June 1968 negotiations began, among other things, on political participation and self-government for the Cypriot Turks. An agreement between the ethnic groups led to a period of calm in the conflict until 1974. The talks between the ethnic groups were conducted by Rauf Denktaş on the Cyprus-Turkish side and Glafkos Klerides on the Cyprus-Greek side. During this relative calm, the former EOKA leader Grivas secretly returned to Cyprus in 1971, reorganized the EOKA (EOKA II or EOKA-B) and started a guerrilla war against the Makarios government.

The 1974 coup against Makarios and the Turkish invasion

On July 15, 1974, with the support of the Greek military junta in Athens, organized by the regime's “strong man”, the Greek officer Dimitrios Ioannidis , officers of the Cypriot National Guard against the government of Archbishop Makarios III. and made Nikos Sampson President of Cyprus. The aim of this putsch was the annexation of Cyprus ( Enosis ) to Greece in clear violation of the Zurich and London agreements .

After England had rejected joint action by the guarantee powers, Turkey intervened on July 20, 1974, invoking its right to intervene as a guarantee power in Operation Atilla, with the landing of regular Turkish troops in the north of the island. Although the Greek military junta overturned on July 23, 1974 due to the threat of war with Turkey and Sampson also resigned, Turkey decided on August 14, 1974 to expand the invasion. By paramilitary Greek Cypriots, the massacres of Maratha, Santalaris and Aloda (today: Northern Cyprus) of Cyprus Turks with 126 deaths were perpetrated on August 14th . On the evening of August 14th, 85 Turkish Cypriot residents were kidnapped and murdered from the previously mixed population of Tochni (today: Republic of Cyprus between Larnaka and Limassol).

The United Nations buffer zone within the UNFICYP mission

The Turkish invasion occupied a total of 37% of the total area of ​​Cyprus - an area in which up to 1974 approx. 70% of the gross national product of Cyprus had been generated. As a result, the Green Line, which is still controlled by UNFICYP and the Sovereign Military Base Dekelia (United Kingdom), which is under British sovereignty, was established, which the Turkish side calls the Atilla Line . It extends from Erenköy / Kokkina in the Bay of Morfou over Nicosia, which has been divided since 1964, to Famagusta . In December 1974, the Republic of Cyprus with its old government regained full sovereignty. However, Turkey refused to withdraw its occupation forces and vacate the occupied territory.

Under international law, the second part of Operation Atilla is regarded as unlawful at the latest, as it is not justified in Article IV of the Guarantee Treaty of 1959 ( the right to take action with the sole aim of re-establishing the state of affairs created by the present Treaty ).

In May 2014, Turkey was sentenced by the European Court of Human Rights to pay Cyprus 90 million euros in damages and compensation for the consequences of the Turkish military intervention. During the Turkish invasion , around 1,500 Cypriot Greeks disappeared and 162,000 people were forcibly relocated. In addition, there were expropriations of Greek Cypriots who had stayed in the north of the island after the partition. In the Turkish-occupied areas, more than 550 Greek Orthodox churches were looted, some of them destroyed or used as mosques, military depots and cattle sheds.

Negotiations and developments between 1974 and 1979

Negotiations begin

The Turkish invasion of 1974 changed the engagement of the United Nations in the conflict: With its resolution 353 the UN Security Council called on all states to preserve the sovereignty , independence and territorial integrity of Cyprus. He also called for an end to foreign military intervention and the withdrawal of foreign military personnel.

After the second Turkish attack on Cyprus after the failed Geneva negotiations, resolution 3212 of the UN General Assembly of November 1, 1974 called for negotiations, which first came about in April 1975.

Agreements reached between the conflicting parties

Abandoned hotel in Varosha

In the talks since the intervention, three agreements have been reached between the negotiating parties. The first concerned the population exchange in Cyprus in 1975 . Together with the previous expulsions and escapes, the result was that 48,000 Turkish Cypriots left the south and 162,000 Greek Cypriots left the north. The remaining ones were offered help to lead a more or less regular life and to be able to practice their religion. With the completion of the population exchange, the almost complete segregation into two territorial units was completed. On the 37% of the island area controlled by the Turkish army, the " Turkish Federal State of Cyprus " was proclaimed in the same year , which was supposed to be part of a Cypriot federal state consisting of two zones. However, such a solution was rejected by both the Greek Cypriot side and the international community.

On February 12, 1977 Archbishop Makarios and Rauf Denktaş signed an agreement on the basis for further negotiations. Both sides agreed to create an independent, non-aligned, bi-communal federal republic. The definition of the respective territory should be based on the principles of economic use potential, productivity and land ownership. No other questions were addressed.

On March 19, 1979, Spyros Kyprianou , the successor to the late Makarios III, and Denktaş signed a 10-point agreement. In the agreement, both sides agree that the existing agreement of 1977 and the decisions of the United Nations should form the basis for further negotiations. The human rights and fundamental freedoms of all citizens should be respected. The talks should cover all constitutional and territorial aspects and enable the island to be demilitarized . Furthermore, the repopulation of the ghost town of Varosha was explicitly mentioned as a subject of negotiation. Both sides agreed that the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and freedom of association of the republic must be ensured against the possible annexation of the island or part of the island to another country and against any form of division or division.

The negotiations and developments between 1980 and 1997

The divided shopping street Ledrastrasse , 2006

Resolution 37/253

On May 13, 1983, the General Assembly of the United Nations passed resolution 37/253, which was initiated by the Greek Cypriot President Kyprianou , who was re-elected in 1983 . From the Greek Cypriot point of view, the resolution was another victory at the international level, while on the Turkish Cypriot side it was referred to as an “execution order”. She called for the immediate withdrawal of all occupation troops, welcomed the Greek Cypriot proposal for complete demilitarization and decided that the de facto situation created by the use of weapons should in no way influence the solution of the Cyprus problem. The island Turks reacted to this on November 15, 1983 with the declaration of independence by the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus . Three days later, in Resolution 541 , the Security Council declared the declaration of independence to be legally invalid.

The area of ​​the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus covers about 3400 km², about 37 percent of the island's area and is estimated to have about 290,000 endemic Turkish Cypriot inhabitants and Turkish settlers (as of 2006). In addition, there are still around 30,000 troops of the Turkish army in northern Cyprus. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is only recognized by Turkey to this day. However, she was accepted as an observer by the Central Asia Summit of the Turkish Republics (OATCT) in 1992. Furthermore, she has the status of a constant observer in the organization of the Islamic Conference .

The New York negotiations

In September 1984 negotiations began in New York . At the end of the third round of negotiations, on November 27, 1984, the Secretary General submitted a proposal to establish an independent, non-aligned, federal, bizonal republic in which both communities should have the same political status . The proposal also stipulated that the Turkish Cypriot community should surrender around 25 percent of the territory controlled since 1974 to the Greek Cypriot community. A partial withdrawal of Turkish troops was planned, as was the guarantee of international guarantees. This proposal was accepted by the Turkish Cypriot negotiator Denktaş on the condition that the Greek Cypriot side would accept the package in its entirety. A major breakthrough on the Cyprus issue appeared possible.

When the signing was due to take place in New York in January 1985, Kyprianu hesitated because a partial but not a full withdrawal of the Turkish troops was planned. He called for renegotiations. Kyprian's hesitation did not meet with the undivided approval of the Greek Cypriots; he was heavily criticized by the opposition . Foreign Minister Rolandis did not agree to this either and resigned a few weeks later. The island Turks saw Kyprianou's rejection as a rejection of the solution formula of the bizonal, federal state.

A newly revised proposal by UN Secretary General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar in April 1985 was rejected by Denktaş because the Turkish Cypriot side was not involved in the drafting. With the election of Georges Vassiliou as President of the Republic of Cyprus in 1988, the negotiations began to move again. On January 30, 1989, the framework conditions for the establishment of a federal republic and a solution to the Cyprus problem were presented by the UN. Some rounds of talks between Vassiliou and Denktaş took place without the participation of the United Nations and did not bring any concrete results, as it was not possible to agree on the status of the sovereignty of the two states.

The set of ideas

The set of ideas , drawn up by UN Secretary General Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, was the most comprehensive and detailed proposal to date for the settlement of the Cyprus conflict. It provided for both parties to move away from their previously represented positions and named the guarantee of the three fundamental freedoms, but moved away from the Greek Cypriot demand that all refugees should have a right of return . The guarantee treaty of 1960 was confirmed so that both Turkey and Greece would have a military presence on the island. Both should be stationed on the island with equal strength. Vassiliou agreed to the set of ideas . Nevertheless, the negotiation failed because of Denktaş, who, among other things, rejected the planned border route.

Further action by the United Nations

After the failure of the “set of ideas”, the United Nations relied on the establishment of confidence-building measures in Cyprus. These envisaged a drastic reduction in the number of Turkish military units, a reduction in Greek-Cypriot armaments spending, bi-communal contacts at expert level, cooperation on issues relating to the problematic water supply and the reopening of the Nicosia International Airport, which has been closed since the intervention, and the return of the uninhabited city Varosha . After an initially hopeful development of the negotiations, the proposals failed again. On the Greek Cypriot side, it was feared that the confidence-building measures would amount to de facto recognition of the north. Finally, the newly elected President Glafkos Klerides broke off the talks on the grounds that the United Nations had reached unilateral agreements as part of the negotiations with the Turkish Cypriot side.

The application of the Republic of Cyprus to join the European Union in 1990 introduced a new controversial issue in the Cyprus conflict. The Turkish Cypriot leadership as well as the Turkish government protested sharply against the request, as they understand that the government of the republic does not have the right to sole representation for all of Cyprus. They are also of the opinion that membership in the EU is a breach of contract according to the Zurich and London agreements . While EU membership on the Greek Cypriot side was portrayed as a catalyst for the solution of the Cyprus question, Denktaş rigorously rejected this and made its approval dependent on Turkey's EU membership and the previous solution to the conflict.

In July 1997, Klerides and Denktaş met in New York. The talks were fruitless, but ended with the prospect of discussing humanitarian issues in the next round. In August 1997 the last round of negotiations took place in Switzerland , which again was inconclusive: the EU had meanwhile decided to include the Republic of Cyprus in the enlargement talks.

The aspirations for reunification and accession to the EU

Four parts with different status under international law

Four parts with different political status are affected by a possible reunification of Cyprus:

  1. The Greek-Cypriot dominated southern part, which represents the island as a whole under international law (populated primarily by Cypriot Greeks and a minority of Cypriot Turks)
  2. The currently Turkish northern part (populated by Cypriot Turks and resettled mainland Turks in roughly the same number, 35,000 Turkish soldiers as well as Greek and Maronite minorities, who are only a few hundred mostly elderly people) as a stabilized de facto regime .
  3. The United Kingdom's Sovereign Military Bases (SBA) (4% of total territory ).
  4. The buffer zone (green line) of the United Nations troops (3% of the total territory).

In the event of reunification, the SBA and the administration of the UN zone have already announced that they will surrender part of the territory. Simultaneously with the withdrawal of the Turkish armed forces in the north, however, the number of UN soldiers is expected to triple. As things stand at present, however, no territories are being surrendered for the time being, as the UN plan was rejected in its form in a referendum in the south. In addition, the parties to the conflict have taken measures to enable free movement of persons for the first time . In this way, economic and peaceful coalescence should be promoted.

Accession of Cyprus to the European Union

At the EU summit on December 13, 2002 in Copenhagen in the course of the EU's eastward expansion on May 1, 2004 , the admission of the Republic of Cyprus, together with eight East Central European states and Malta, to the European Union was decided. The Parliament of the Republic of Cyprus ratified the EU Accession Treaty on July 28, 2003.

The main problem in the negotiations was not only the territorial and strategic location of the island (with the high proportion of Turkish soldiers in the population of the northern part), but also the question of what should be done with the settled Anatolian families who were recruited to increase the population of the north had been. Both parties had given the UN Secretary General one final power of attorney for "unsolvable" questions in connection with reunification.

The UN plan for the reunification of Cyprus

Kofi Annan

A federation made up of two states was proposed . The Turkish Cypriot in the north is said to comprise 28.5 percent, the Greek Cypriot in the south 71.5 percent of the area. With regard to the areas to be ceded, Kofi Annan had submitted two alternative maps. The sub-states were supposed to have very far-reaching rights, the central government was designed accordingly weak (especially external representation).

Each part should have its own parliament. A Lower House and an Upper House were planned at the state level. Despite the higher proportion of the total population (excluding the Turkish settlers), the Greek Cypriots should make up two thirds of the MPs in the lower house, the Turkish Cypriots one third. The Senate should each consist equally represented both communities. A six-member presidium (four Greeks and two Turks) with a rotating chairmanship should preside over the entire state. In case of doubt, a supreme court should decide, which should include representatives of both ethnic groups as well as a citizen of a neutral third country.

Demilitarization was also planned: the number of Turkish soldiers should be reduced from 35,000 to 6,000, the Greeks should also be able to station up to 6,000 soldiers. Both states and the former colonial power Great Britain should remain guarantee powers as before .

Final negotiations and referendum

The final negotiations at the end of March 2004 in Switzerland were ended without the desired amicable solution. Even though the economic data and the state system of the South had met the EU's admission criteria, in the event of an agreement the whole island should be admitted to the European Union as part of the EU's eastward expansion on May 1st, 2004. Under the leadership of the United Nations and Kofi Annans , the solution plan has been revised again and again. It provided for a loose federation of both parts, but with restrictions.

The plan failed in a referendum on April 24, 2004. On the Greek side, 480,000 voters were eligible to vote, on the Turkish side about 150,000. While the population of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus voted for the plan with almost two thirds of the votes, the population of the Republic of Cyprus rejected the plan with a large majority, only a quarter voted in favor. In order to be able to realize the plan, however, a majority would have been necessary on both parts of the island. With the failure of the vote, EU law will only apply in the Greek part of Cyprus.

The main criticisms of the Cypriot Greeks of the Annan Plan were the remaining stationing of Turkish soldiers in the future territory of the European Union , the maintenance of the status of the guarantee powers, the lack of freedom of movement within the entire national territory , property issues, the relatively high representation of the Cypriot Turks (at least when measured against their population share of 18 %), the limited powers of the central government, the composition of the Supreme Court (with a foreigner as " tip the scales ").

Details of the two referendums
Absolute numbers Relative numbers voter turnout
Yes No Yes No
Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (Turkish) 50,500 14,700 64.90% 35.09% 87%
Republic of Cyprus (Greek) 99,976 313,704 24.17% 75.83% 88%
to hum 150,500 328,500 31.42% 68.58%

After the referendum

Unsuccessful negotiations from 2008

Ledrastrasse on the day the border opened

Despite the failure of the Annan Plan due to the overwhelming rejection of the Greek Cypriots, the Republic of Cyprus became a member of the European Union on May 1, 2004. The EU had to come up with a special solution, as under international law only the entire island can join the Union. The acquis communautaire (EU acquis communautaire ) applies only to the south of the island for the time being; the regulations for the Turkish part are suspended according to Accession Protocol No. 10 for Cyprus. The EU aid promised before the referendum for the north of the island did not materialize, also at the instigation of the south, which is now fully entitled to vote. The previous President of the Republic of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos , did not take any initiatives for reunification. This was punished by the electorate, so that in 2008 they lost to Dimitris Christofias , the candidate of the reform communist AKEL . During the election campaign, he clearly advocated rapprochement with the north, and just a few days after taking office, the first talks took place with the President of Northern Cyprus, Mehmet Ali Talat , in which the resumption of negotiations to overcome the division was agreed. At the same time it was announced that the barricade on Ledra Street in the old town of Nicosia was to be removed and a new crossing to be created there. The transition was opened on April 3, 2008.

The negotiations were intensified in several rounds of talks in January 2010, without ultimately being successful. The biggest difference of opinion is the form of government: The Republic of Cyprus wants a stronger federal state, while the Turkish Cypriots want a union of two almost independent states. As early as 1960, the Republic of Cyprus suffered from the veto right of the two national communities.

Critical peace researchers have meanwhile called for civil society to be more closely involved in the peace process. They argue that the political elites of both groups base their legitimacy on the conflict and use international resources to their advantage.

Talks resumed in 2014

Nikos Anastasiadis
Mustafa Akıncı

At the beginning of 2014, renewed talks about reunification began. On February 11, 2014, the Greek Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiadis and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart Derviş Eroğlu presented the outlines of a constitution in a joint declaration, according to which both areas should be given extensive internal autonomy. After the talks are over, both ethnic groups will be asked for their consent in separate referenda. Both the EU and Turkey welcomed the statement. In the opinion of the Foreign Minister of the North, Özdil Nami , the omens are favorable: the euro crisis , which hit both Greece and Cyprus hard, but also the potential exploitation of the natural gas deposits discovered off the island's coast , bring the advantages of reunification to the fore . In March 2014, Nami announced that there had already been broad agreement on issues of power-sharing between the two population groups, as well as economic and EU issues. He expressed confidence that the negotiations can be concluded by 2015. Since August 22, 2014 Espen Barth Eide , former Foreign Minister of Norway, has been the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for the Cyprus Conflict.

Gas conflict

After the Greek-Cypriot government allowed an Italian-Korean energy consortium to search for gas deposits off the coast, it dispatched the research vessel SAIPEM 10000. The Turkish government responded by sending its own research vessel Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa , which is operated by the frigate TCG Göksu is protected. Because of the military presence, Anastasiadis broke off negotiations and Cyprus announced that it would block Turkish efforts to join the EU.

Presidential election in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus April 2015

In March 2015, the Turkish research vessel Barbaros Hayrettin Paşa left the exclusive economic zone of the Republic of Cyprus and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus announced that it would continue the peace talks in Cyprus. With presidential elections coming up in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus , it was decided to start talks after the elections. The liberal Mustafa Akıncı won the elections and telephoned the Greek-Cypriot ethnic group leader Nikos Anastasiadis that same evening and it was decided to start talks in May. The two ethnic group leaders met on May 11, 2015 for a meal in the Green Line. During the first round of negotiations on May 15, 2015, it was decided to lift visas for both parts of the island. At another meeting, the two ethnic group leaders visited the southern and northern parts of the island's capital Nicosia . They drank coffee and the Cypriot brandy Zivania as a sign of peace. Mustafa Akıncı stated that from June 29, 2015, the real peace negotiations will begin.

In July 2015, the daily Sabah reported that, if the talks resumed in May 2015 continue in their current form, a solution could be found within months in which a Turkish and a Greek state, each with their own nationality system , could be founded and they could mutually then subsequently merge to form a federation . There should be parliaments on two levels and freedom of establishment for all Cypriots in all parts of the country. In a historic step, Mustafa Akıncı was also the first Turkish Cypriot politician to acknowledge the suffering of the Greek inhabitants of Northern Cyprus who were killed or displaced as a result of the invasion and lost their belongings. Akıncı said on the eve of the anniversary, just as the Turkish Cypriots experienced enormous suffering in the 1950s and 1960s, so July 20, 1974 was a tragedy for the Greek inhabitants of Cyprus. During a ceremony for the soldiers who fell in 1974, the President of the Greek part of Cyprus, Nikos Anastasiades, declared : "We have to work to heal the wounds."

In December 2015 the Prime Minister of Turkey Ahmet Davutoğlu declared in Brussels: “A solution can be found in the next few months”. During a visit to the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu praised “the very constructive attitude” of Anastasiades, whom he would like to invite to Ankara .

The fact that the foreign ministers of three permanent members of the UN Security Council are visiting Cyprus is an indication of progress in the unification efforts, because the Security Council must agree to a Cyprus solution - provided that the two ethnic groups accept unification in separate referendums.

General election in the Republic of Cyprus in May 2016

Ban Ki-moon
Espen Barth Eide

While the elections in the south on May 22, 2016 were getting closer and closer, answers to questions about the situation of the Turkish settlers, the institutions of a unified Cyprus, the guarantee powers and the compensation of the expropriations were still open. The Greek Cypriot President called for Turkish, which is also the official language in the Republic of Cyprus itself, to be introduced as the official language of the European Union . Finally, the outcome of the May elections can be seen as a positive signal with regard to the reunification initiative for the President of the Republic of Cyprus, although the emergence of new smaller parties and slight losses in the main supporters of reunification in Parliament can be noted.

Negotiations in Mont Pèlerin November 2016

A potentially decisive round of negotiations took place on November 7, 2016 in Mont Pèlerin on Lake Geneva in Switzerland in the presence of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon . The future territorial and administrative division of the country was on the agenda. The Greek Cypriots want at least 100,000 of the 220,000 displaced people in the north to be readmitted, so that Greek Cypriots can return to the cities of Morphou and Famagusta in particular . Should the parties agree on these points, the discussions will continue, a joint card drawn up and finally a date set for further security negotiations.

The aim of the agreement is to unite Cyprus under one international identity, one citizenship and one sovereignty. However, the division into two states is to be retained.

The talks continued on November 20 after a one-week break. After two days of intense negotiations, it was not possible to agree on how the delicate question of the borders between the two states should be resolved.

The Greek Cypriots had apparently until the very end demanded that the future inner-Cypriot borders be precisely defined on maps. As was learned from negotiating circles of the Greek Cypriots, the Turkish Cypriot side limited itself to a vague list of the principles that should apply when redefining the borders.

Anastasiadis and Akıncı would travel back to Cyprus and examine how things should go next, according to a statement by the UN Secretary-General's special envoy, Espen Barth Eide .

The two top politicians of the so-called "mother states" of the Cypriot conflict parties Alexis Tsipras and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wanted to meet in the following days after information that had not yet been officially confirmed to talk about the Cyprus question.

Negotiations with the mediation of the UN in 2017

Antonio Guterres

On January 4, 2017, Mustafa Akıncı and Nikos Anastasiadis met in the UN-secured buffer zone of Cyprus. In their almost four-hour meeting under the patronage of Espen Barth Eide, preliminary talks for the new round of negotiations were held in Geneva, among other things, they discussed again territorial changes that are necessary for a desired two-state federation. The Geneva Talks took place from January 9th to 12th. The Turkish Cypriot head of state was optimistic when he subsequently turned to the press. " You will travel to Geneva with positive expectations and a constructive atmosphere, " said Akıncı, according to the Turkish daily Sabah. At the same time, however, he warned that " 2017 could be a painful year if no solution can be found on the Cyprus issue ".

For both sides, security still seems to be a critical point, and with it the remaining 40,000 Turkish soldiers on the island. "We cannot remain the last country that needs protection from third parties through guarantee powers," said Anastasiadis on January 8th, adding that as an EU member his country "needs neither guarantee powers nor troops".

Akıncı does not want to do without the Turkish troops for the security of his community. He reaffirmed an agreement that could only be accepted if “both sides could feel safe”.

On January 11, 2017, for the first time since the division of Cyprus more than 40 years ago, both sides presented maps with their proposals for the future course of the border.

The new Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, chaired the round of negotiations in Geneva . The talks in January about the divided island of Cyprus ended without a final result, but due to the positive development of the negotiations, a continuation was agreed.

Negotiations between Niko Anastasiadis and Mustafa Akıncı continued in June 2017 . This round of negotiations in Crans-Montana failed in July 2017, among other things due to Turkey's refusal to completely withdraw its troops stationed in the northern part and to renounce its right to intervene.

In a letter of July 27th to Presidents Anastasiadis and Akıncı, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker affirmed that he wanted to find a European solution to the conflict.

Slow rapprochements in 2018

Nikos Christodoulidis

After Nikos Anastasiadis was re-elected as President of the Republic of Cyprus in February 2018, he called on people to “ensure that the current situation should not be the solution to the Cyprus problem”.

The Foreign Minister of the Republic of Cyprus Nikos Christodoulidis said in July 2018 that there were new hopes that talks on the reunification of Cyprus could be resumed through the mediation of the United Nations.

Two new border crossings were opened in November 2018. One in Lefgios / Lefke in northwestern Cyprus south of Morfou / Güzelyurt and a second near Deryneia / Derinya in the east of the island south of Famagusta / Gazimağusa .


  • Andrew Borowiec : Cyprus: a troubled island . Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 2000
  • Yiannis Papadakis: Echoes from the Dead Zone: Across the Cyprus Divide. IB Tauris, 2005, ISBN 9780857712318
  • Uli Piller: The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. A political and cultural reader . Books on Demand, Piller, Unterschleißheim 2001, ISBN 3-8311-2136-2 .
  • Heinz A. Richter : Brief history of modern Cyprus: 1878–2009 , Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 2010, ISBN 978-3-447-06211-4 / Rutzen, Mainz / Ruhpolding 2010, ISBN 978-3-938646-52-6 .
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  • Stefan Talmon : Collective non-recognition of illegal states. Basics and legal consequences of an internationally coordinated sanction, illustrated using the example of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (= Jus publicum. Volume 154). Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2006.

Web links

Commons : Cyprus  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

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  10. Sector 2 . In: UNFICYP . November 10, 2015 ( [accessed August 1, 2018]).
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  32. Cyprus: Drinking schnapps against the division. In: May 23, 2015, accessed January 6, 2018 .
  34. NEX: United Federation of Cyprus: Cyprus: Akıncı has recognized "the suffering of the Greek inhabitants of Northern Cyprus" ( Memento of December 22, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  35. a b NIKOSIA In Cyprus there is growing hope for reunification
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  38. ^ : Negotiations at a "critical point"
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  41. No breakthrough in Cyprus talks
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  45. a b Turkey holds key at last-ditch Cyprus talks at:
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  49. Cyprus: Guterres succeeds in continuing negotiations in June ,, June 5, 2017
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