The Cyprus Question

In July 1974 Turkey invaded the Republic of Cyprus. This was in violation of the UN Charter and of fundamental principles of international law. The consequences of the military invasion and subsequent occupation of nearly forty percent of the sovereign territory of the Republic are still felt today. For almost five decades, Turkey’s aggression has continued unabated. With it came military occupation, forcible division, population displacement, ethnic segregation, massive violation of human rights, colonization, attempted secession, cultural destruction, and property usurpation. These conditions, imposed by Turkey, constitute an unacceptable situation that has persisted on the island since 1974.

Today, Turkey, an aspiring member of the European Union, still stands guilty of international aggression against Cyprus, a member-state of the Union. The status quo of foreign military occupation and forcible division of an independent, sovereign state must be redressed by the international community.

This informational booklet, updated for the present edition, is intended to introduce the reader to basic aspects of a major international issue, the Cyprus Question or Cyprus Problem, as it is commonly referred to, and to the prospects for a viable settlement in line with European norms and the rule of law. It is a brief guide to a protracted and seemingly intractable conflict that provides background information to help place the current situation and new developments in proper historical perspective.

The more recent phase of the Cyprus problem, as it has developed since 1974, is dealt with in the first section, “Political Overview,” while the “Historical Background” to the issue is covered in the subsequent section of the booklet.

The appendices and the chronology of key events that follow provide useful information relevant to the main text. The short, select bibliography, indicative of the vast literature on the Cyprus problem, can provide the interested reader with both a better understanding of and further guidance to an international issue that has engaged the international community for decades.

It is important to keep in mind that throughout the text, the terms “Turkish Cypriots” and “Turkish Cypriot community,” refer specifically and exclusively to the legal, indigenous, native Cypriot citizens of the Republic of Cyprus that are of Turkish ethnic background. These terms do not refer to and definitely exclude the tens of thousands of illegal settlers imported from Turkey into occupied Cyprus after 1974. The influx of these settlers, who have entered and remain illegally on the island, has been part of Ankara’s systematic effort to change the demographic structure of the Republic of Cyprus.

More information on the various dimensions of the Cyprus problem can be found on the website and in numerous publications of the Press and Information Office (PIO). The PIO website is a convenient, comprehensive venue to current developments, back ground information, and useful links to other relevant sources. The reader is urged to explore this valuable resource for a more thorough understanding of the issues discussed in this booklet.

The full version of the “Cyprus Question” issue is available here