Politics Magazine

The Cyprus/Turkey Conflict.

Posted on the 15 August 2012 by Sephremers @ladystingray

The Cyprus/Turkey conflict.

(Written by Stephanie Remers (C) 2010)

History of the conflict:

Cyprus has always been under various influences and control of different empires. This has impacted the Cypriot culture. Such controllers have been the Parisian, Romans, Venetians, Ottoman and British, all have laid claim to the island. Cyprus was under rule by the Ottoman Empire, also known as the Turkish Empire. It ended under the Imperial Monarchy in 1922, after it the empire collapsed following its defeat in WWI, Cyprus was then annexed by Britain. It was formally denounced in 1923 by the Treaty of Lausanne, a peace treaty, and Turkey official renounced any claim to Cyprus.

The issues within Cyprus began in the 1820s, originally started during the Greek war of Independence. The Greek Cypriots wanted to merger with Greece, knows as Enosis. It came about under British colonial rule.  There was an uprising over British tax policies which erupted protest and resulted in the British Government Building, in the Capital of Cyprus, Nicosia, being set on fire. This reinforced the Greek-Cypriot communities. After this, the British Government restricted the Greek-Cypriots from any political movements; the conflict was then put on hold due to the start of WWII. It was not then until the 1st April 1955 that the conflict started up again. Tensions had risen and Enosis was ready to start taking action again for independence from British Rule and unite with Greece. EOKA, the National Organisation of Cypriot fighters, struggled in protest until 1959. In 1960 an agreement was made between Greece, Cyprus and the United Kingdom under the Zurich and London Agreement which made Cyprus an independent republic. It also became a member of the Common wealth and The United Nations. Britain still to this day retains army bases on the island. Then in 1963 the Turkish minister at the time withdrew from cabinet and Turkey threatened to invade Cyprus. Since this time the mission of Turkey has been to partition Cyprus.  In 1974 the first president of Cyprus President Makarios was victim of a military coup by the Military Junta. This is a coup which was happening in Greece since 1944, Greece was in civil war due to national division between the left and the right. It was fought between the communist Greek and the newly reunited Greek

government, which was in exile. The United States was involved in this as it did not want Greece to come under Soviet power.  Robert H. Stephens stated

“The outlook was black not only on the island but internationally. Khrushchev, flushed with the success of Russia’s first Sputnik, was putting pressure on the Western powers over Berlin. There was a call from Washington for a closing of the ranks in NATO to meet the new Soviet threat. Cyprus was drifting into a civil war which threatened to involve Britain, Greece, and Turkey all NATO members- in deepening conflict. All of the parties concerned found they had reasons for considering a compromise”
(STEPHENS, Robert H. 1996)

Both America and Britain helped to end the Civil war.  During the coup of the Junta in 1974 while Cyprus was vulnerable Turkey invaded Cyprus. Turkey attacked with over forty thousand troops which Cyprus was powerless against. This has resulted in Turkey now occupying over 37% of the island, which you can see from the map above. During the time 40% of the Northern Cyprus population was pushed out of their homes resulting in thousands of refugees in the south of Cyprus. The Cypriot people have suffered immense human right violations which brought about the inclusion of the United Nations general assembly, the common wealth, and the non-aligned movement. Up to date the conflict between Cyprus and Turkey has involved the United Kingdom, the United States, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus, the United Nations and the European Union. Major party involvements, current behaviours and perceptions of the conflict and their different forms of conflict resolution;

United Nations:  It created a buffer zone between the Turkish occupation and Cyprus which goes through the Capital of Cyprus, Nicosia.  The zone has only really cased more problems between the Cypriots and the Turkish as it crated social barriers between the communities. The United Nations has declared it as an illegal invasion.  The UN created the UNFICYP (United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus); it was set up in 1964 in order to stop any further fighting. Since then the UNFICYP has remained on the Island to prevent any further ceasefire and deals with any humanitarian issues.

The UNFICP mandate was set up under the following terms:

“in the interest of preserving international peace and security, to use its best efforts to prevent a recurrence of fighting and, as necessary, to contribute to the maintenance and restoration of law and order and a return to normal conditions.”

(UNFICYP 2010)

It has also been extended to the Security Council. Since 1947 the conflict between Cyprus and Turkey has been less hostile. Neither party have broken the terms of the ceasefire. The Secretary General of the UN has noted that this issue is not that ceasefire has remained but that peace in Cyprus still does not. (UNFICYP 2010). The UNFICYP have been continually making efforts to resolve the conflict and in 1990 began putting more pressure on the issue.  Between 1999 and 2003 the UNFICYP help direct talks between the parties, unfortunately their third party support did not give any positive results. A proposal was put forward in 2002 named “Basis for a Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Problem”, this plan was approved by the UN. Leaders, Tassos Papadopoulos, and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash had a meeting in February 2004 in regards to the planned proposal, they did all come to an agreement regarding the plan unfortunately it was then put to an election, the Turkish approved of the plan but the Greek Cypriots rejected it. The newest attempts put forward by the UN happened in 2008. The result was “a bizonal, bi-communal federation, with political equality and a single international personality” UNFICYP. (2010).

European Union: Cyprus has been a member of the Union since 1961. It became part of the Conference of Secretary and Co-operation in 1975 and part of the European Economic Community since 1972 (UNFICYP 2010)The purpose of the Union is to aid Cyprus in any trade barriers, due to harmful results of the Turkish invasion. Cyprus became a full member of the E.C membership on 2003 confirming the Europeans support of Cyprus against the Turkish occupation.

The Parliamentary assembly of the European parliament are making efforts to support Cyprus in regaining its territory, protecting its human right and supporting the removal of Turkish troops, it hopes to reach a peaceful settlement through ‘negotiations and appeal’ by encouraging both parties to refrain from any actions which may compromise any achievements of peaceful settlement.  Since 1983 the Union has made no association with the Turkish governments.  One of the major issues which the Union monitors is the humanitarian issues within Cyprus and a committee was set up to manage this accordingly. The E.U sees the actions of the Turkish invasion a crime against European culture, political ethics and Civilization.  The E.U has a duty to support Cyprus as the conflict goes against international law and human rights. The European Union declares that;

“The Cyprus problem is not as small and insignificant as some sides attempt to portray. Its dimensions are enormous and the outcome of its eventual settlement would decide the future course of events in Europe and worldwide”

(Giorgos Zacharia 1994 – UNFICYP 2010)

Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and United States: Greece and turkeysrelationship has been mainly characterised through conflict rather than peace.  Both parties are NATO allies, there involvements is in relation to NATO was in relation to the Soviet Unions access to the Mediterranean, as previously mentioned. NATO spent a lot of its efforts preventing conflict between the two countries. Cyprus and Turkey have issues over restricted air and sea space, being that you cannot travel back and forth between them. The space between Greece, Cyprus and Turkey (Balkans) are a crossroads and interest of the balance of power and the Great Powers. These sea and air spaces are required for access for support and aid in wars, such as between Kosovo and Bosnia. Of which both Turkey and Greece have supplied aid and support in peacekeeping. Therefore relations between Turkey, Greece, United States and NATO are to keep peace due to the Balkans. This makes things complicated in terms of Cyprus’s allies in creating a settlement between Turkey and Cyprus. With the intervention of the Gulf War 10 years ago sea and air was depended on access though these areas of the Mediterranean, the relationship which needs to remain peaceful with Turkey and Greece is mainly due to their insolvent in NATO as they are used for surveillance, making the east Mediterranean a priority to the United States and NATO as there is a lot of military involvement.  The Great powers in Europe and United States have a vested interest in maintaining Islamic fundamentalist; these are conflict which surrounds the meditations around Turkey, Greece and Cyprus. Because of issues such as this is has an adverse effect on the amount of enrolment which the UK, USA and Greece can’t get directly involved in the conflict, as it would ruin any relations between these countries. The only involvement that the UK and USA have which could have any influence of the conflict is it participation within the United Nations. Which is currently at its best efforts to end the conflict between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

What efforts are being made to resolve the conflict between Cyprus and Turkey at present then?

Well, the conflict is an old and complicated one, combining the interest of major powers and political union parties, such as; USA, UK, GREECE, TURKEY, CYPRUS, SOVIET UNION, UNITED NATIONS and NATO. With so many underlining issues and insolvent is peace possible?  With the failure of the last UN’s proposal of “Basis for a Comprehensive Settlement of the Cyprus Problem” what could be done next; one positive, to which is apparent, was the implementation of the EU which agreed a trade arrangement within the Turkish Cypriot part of the community as well as a financial aid regulation, which can only encourage peace though cooperation.   On the positive side the two president’s both Turkish and Cypriot have started to negotiate directly. When Cyprus first came a part of the EU the EU was rather vague in its involvement.  It did not give direct concise instructions as to any regulations which needed to be put into place, in order to cease the Cyprus and Turkey conflict. The EU is a great power in solving the issues by coming to an agreement that suits both parties as Turkey has made several applications to be part of the EU but was rejected each time due to the conflict with Cyprus. In order for peace to occur I believe that the EU should be concise in its conditions with Turkey, meaning that it should set out clearly, that the Greek Cypriots are not interested in any form of partition.  And if Turkey would like to come part of the EU then it must remove its military forces and end the illegal occupation over Cyprus, this way it will have a stronger chance of becoming part of the EU. The EU should also have more insolvent by taking part in negotiations that involve the United Nations, Turkey and Cyprus. I believe that this will help all parties come to a positive outcome as well as help to create a good relationship between all parties i.e., UK, USA, GREECE, TURKEY, NATO, UN & EU which can only have a positive effect on the international system.


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