The Presidents of Cyprus and Turkey — Nicos Anastasiades and Recep Tayyip Erdogan — are set to visit India within days of each other. Mr. Erdogan will be visiting India on April 25, the first time since 2008 and Mr. Anastasiades in the first week of May.
The visits assume importance with the Nuclear Suppliers Group plenary session coming up in June, and India needs all the support it can get for a second bid at NSG membership. Cyprus supports India on the NSG front. Turkey, Mr Calgary Calgary Camoscio Calgary SARENZA SARENZA Camoscio SARENZA Grigio Grigio Mr Mr Grigio Camoscio pCrwqxCASon the other hand, had backed a “process-based” approach, and reportedly wanted both Pakistan and India to be considered together.
The timing of the visits is reportedly coincidental but has elicited interest as the two countries don’t get along with each other.
In order to understand why Cyprus was split in the first place, we’ll need to go back to the late 19th century, when the Ottoman Empire handed over Cyprus to Great Britain in return for military assistance against the Russians. The primary conflict then was between the people of Cyprus and the British administration of the island, with the former demanding right to self-determination or independence However, the conflict assumed an ethnic nature when the two largest demographic entities – the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots – proposed varying solutions.
While the Greek Cypriots favoured a political union of all Greeks with the constitution of a sovereign Greek state, the Turks favoured partition of the island of Cyprus between Turkey and Greece. What ensued was a war-like situation, assuaged by the London-Zurich Agreement which saw Cyprus attain independence. Archbishop Makarios, a long-standing Greek Cypriot leader, was made the President and ratified a Constitution that provided for a Turkish Cypriot Vice-President and a division of the civil services in a 70-30 split between the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, respectively.
While Britain, Turkey and Greece resolved to maintain “sovereignty and territorial integrity” of Cyprus, internal tensions began to brew in the newly-independent state. President Makarios proposed amendments to the Constitution was viewed as an assault on the Turks, who had broken away to establish a parallel administration in the north.
The turning point, though, was the coup of 1974 supported by the military junta of Greece which deposed the Makarios administration. For Turkey, this raised suspicion of Greek control over islands. As a result, Turkey invaded northern Cyprus and established the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). The invasion led to displacement of over 1,60.000 Greek Cypriots and marked the beginning of a long military standoff between the two entities.
It is important to note that the TRNC lacks international recognition, enjoying diplomatic relations with just Turkey while the Republic of Cyprus is the officially recognised governing entity of Cyprus, with a U.N. and EU membership.
What has happened since?
In order to maintain stability, the U.N. Security Council deployed the Clarks Comic Zone Zone Clarks khaki Comic khaki Clarks Jnr Jnr UfdwvfPeacekeeping Forces in Cyprus (UNFICYP) in 1974 that were charged with defining the buffer zone between the two factions and maintaining ceasefire. The UNFICYP remains in force even today, making the longest serving U.N. Peacekeeping mission.
A 2004 deal negotiated by Secretary General Kofi Annan provided a glimmer of hope of resolution of the conflict. However it was rejecteed by the Greek Cypriots in a referendum while the Turkish Cypriots accepted it.
Resource sharing with respect to the land under control is a major issue affecting all stakeholders in the conflict.
How could it possibly end?
Popular support for union with Greece has diminished, with both sides recognising the need for mutual respect and peaceful coexistence in a bi-zonal and bicommunal Cyprus.While the Greek Cypriots favour a federation without definite ethnic divisions, their Turkish counterparts demand the establishment of an autonomous region in the union for themselves.
Power-sharing, demilitarisation and reparation to displaced Greek Cypriots as well as determining the roles of Britain, Turkey and Greece in the future of island nation is essential before Cyprus can be reunified.
The election of new leaders in Republic of Cyprus and TRNC – Mr. Anastasiades and Mustafa Akinci respectively – is a promising start as both sides seem open to negotiations as was seen in Geneva in January, 2017.
But, Mr. Erdogan’s refusal to withdraw over 30,00 troops stationed in Northern Cyprus has derailed talks, with a demand that Greek withdraw its 1,000 troops stationed in the south. Demand for rotational presidencies has also increased from Turkey’s side.
For now, a de facto partition remains in place, with popular support for reunification rapidly diminishing among citizens of the island.