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The Cyprus Issue after the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus

Cyprus was declared an independent Republic on 16 August 1960. The Constitution of the new State, which was provided for by the London and Zurich Agreements, divided the Cypriot people into two communities based on ethnic origin. The independence, territorial integrity, security and constitutional order of the newly founded Republic of Cyprus was placed under the guarantee of Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom (Treaty of Guarantee, 1960).

However, within a short time the two communities became mired in a serious constitutional crisis. In November 1963, Archbishop Makarios, the first President of the Republic of Cyprus, proposed a series of reforms to facilitate the smooth functioning of the state. Turkey rejected these proposals even before they were considered by the Turkish Cypriot community. The latter’s leadership aligned itself with Turkey’s secessionist goals. In December 1963, armed clashes broke out between the two communities and continued in 1964, at a high cost in human lives for both communities.

Following Turkish threats to invade Cyprus, the Government of the Republic of Cyprus raised the issue before the United Nations. In March 1964, the UN Security Council adopted the first of a series of resolutions on the Cyprus issue (186/1964), based on which the UN Secretary General’s Good Offices Mission began and the UN peacekeeping force (UNFICYP) was established on the island, with the consent of the Cypriot government. Resolution 186/1964 reaffirmed the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus, as well as the continuity and legitimacy of the government of Cyprus, despite the withdrawal of the Turkish Cypriots. Turkey continued to threaten military invasion, and in August 1964 the Turkish air force mercilessly bombarded areas of the island, including with napalm bombs.

Intercommunal talks which began in 1968, were violently terminated  on 20 July 1974, when Turkey finally invaded Cyprus on the pretext of the 15 July coup against President Makarios. Despite the failure of the coup, and in the midst of negotiations that began in Geneva, by decision of the UN, on 25 July, Turkey launched a new general offensive  on 14-16 August 1974. Since then, the problems caused  by the invasion and occupation of about 37% of the territory of Cyprus have remained unresolved.

The Turkish invasion and ongoing occupation constitutes a flagrant violation of the UN Charter, as well as of the Treaty of Guarantee, which expressly states that the guarantee concerns the independence, territorial integrity, security and constitutional order established in Cyprus in 1960. The “right” to military intervention in Cyprus, which Turkey invokes, does not arise from any international text.

Last Updated Wednesday, 09 December 2015