The Republic of Cyprus

  • The Republic of Cyprus:a state on an island of the same name in the eastern Mediterranean. On May 1, 2004, the Republic of Cyprus became a full member of the EU.
  • Area:9251 km2. Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Distance from the west coast (Cape Arnaut) to the east coast (Cape Andreas) is 230 km; from north to south, 96 km.
  • Population:1.084 million (as of July 2011), of which about 835,000 (77%) are Greek Cypriots, with about 195,000 (18%) Turkish Cypriots; Armenians and other ethnic groups (5%).
  • Language and religion:the official languages are Greek and Turkish, with English widely spoken. Official religions - Orthodox Christianity (78% of the population) and Muslim (18%); Maronites and Monophysites (c. 4%).
  • Capital:Nicosia, numbering in the Greek part (including the suburbs) more than 315,000 people, and in the Turkish part about 30,000. Major towns - Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos. The towns of Famagusta, Kyrenia and Morphou are in the territory controlled by Turkish troops.
  • Currency:the euro (replaced the Cyprus pound on January 1, 2008).
  • National holiday:Independence Day. Celebrated on October 1, only in the part of the island controlled by the government of the Republic of Cyprus.

Cyprus, which used to be part of the British empire, attained independence on August 16, 1960 (the date of ratification of the Constitution), which was also legally implemented in 1959 by the signing of the Treaty of the Establishment of the Republic of Cyprus, the Treaty of Guarantee and the Treaty of Alliance. These documents were based on Zurich and London Agreements imposed on the Cypriots and significantly limited the sovereignty of the republic. Under these arrangements the UK, Greece and Turkey were the guarantors of "the independence, territorial integrity and security" of Cyprus, as well as the inter-communal status quo that existed on the island at the time. This gave these states the right to interfere in its internal affairs.

The deployment of Turkish troops on July 20, 1974 resulted in the occupation of 37% of the island, splitting it into two separate parts, a situation that continues up to the present time. It disorganised the country’s economy, completely disrupting communication between the communities. About 160,000 Greek Cypriots became refugees. In 1974-75 an "exchange" of populations took place: virtually all the Turkish Cypriots moved to the part of Cyprus occupied by Turkish troops, while the Greek Cypriots went to the south of the island. (Currently, only a few hundred Greek Cypriots live in the area controlled by the Turkish Cypriot administration).

Since 1975, the UN Secretary-General has been implementing the UN Security Council's Good Offices Mission, aimed at helping the island’s Greek and Turkish communities to negotiate a settlement of the Cyprus problem.

His efforts led to meetings and agreements between the leaders of the Greek and Turkish communities, Archbishop Makarios and Rauf Denktash in 1977 and S. Kyprianou and Denktash in 1979, which defined the format of the future settlement of the Cyprus problem - bi-communal federation. After the 1977 and 1979 agreements were reached, domestic and international efforts suffered a series of setbacks due to the parties’ incompatible positions. (Inter-communal talks, which came under the UN auspices, were held in 1980-1983, 1984-1986, 1988-90, 1990-93, 1997 and 1999-2000.)

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s plan implemented in 2002-04 to analyse and co-ordinate the parties’ positions was a milestone on the path to a settlement. This document was based on previous UN proposals and included thousands of pages of draft federal laws, international agreements and treaties. It was the most detailed and comprehensive effort to advance the negotiating process. On April 24, 2004, both parts of Cyprus simultaneously held a referendum on the adoption of the Annan Plan; 65% of Turkish Cypriots voted for going ahead with it, and 76% of Greek Cypriots against, thereby rejecting it.

With the election of Demetris Christofias as President of the Republic of Cyprus (February 2008) there were signs of positive developments towards a Cyprus settlement. In March 21, 2008, he had talks with Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat, which led to an agreement to set up working groups and technical committees on various aspects of the settlement. From September 2008 to August 2009, the first stage of the inter-communal talks under UN auspices took place, focusing mainly on the key issues involved in the governing of the future united Cyprus state, as well as other aspects of the settlement. The second phase of negotiations was launched on September 10, 2009, and continues to date with the new Turkish Cypriot leader, Dervis Eroglu ("elected" April 18, 2010).

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