CYPRUS: International Relations

International Status: Cyprus is an independent sovereign republic and a member of the United Nations and UN agencies. Cypriot sovereignty is seriously affected, however, by the fact that since 1974 foreign (Turkish) troops occupy 37% of its territory. The Republic of Cyprus is a founding member of the Non-aligned Movement, and the late President of Cyprus Archbishop Makarios was a leading figure of this movement along with Nasser of Egypt, Tito of Yugoslavia and Nehru of India. Since the eruption of the Cyprus crisis in 1963 and up until the collapse of communism in early 1990s, most of the diplomatic support for Cyprus at the UN and other fora, came from non-aligned countries.

Cyprus is moving closer to Europe and is linked to the European Union through a customs union agreement. Cyprus has already applied for full membership to the EU and its application has been received favorably. The EU had decided that negotiations for the full accession of Cyprus to the Union, will commence six months after the special intergovernmental meeting of the EU in 1996. The only obstacle that can interfere in the process for Cyprus' full membership to the EU is Turkey. The Turkish government is striving to enter the EU, but it is opposing Cyprus' entry to the EU. Cyprus is also a member of the Council of Europe . In addition, it is a member of the Commonwealth consisting of former British colonies.

Britain enjoys a special status in Cyprus since there are two sovereign British military bases on the island. The Akrotiri and Dekelia bases are located in the southern part of Cyprus and cover 99 square miles. They constitute the largest and most important British bases abroad. Strategically located close to the Middle East and its oil, the bases play a critical role in projecting British power in the region. During the Gulf war in 1992, the British bases, Akrotiri especially, became essential for the supply of the British and allied forces in the Persian Gulf.

Greece is the closest ally of Cyprus both diplomatically and militarily. The Greek government has stated officially that any further Turkish advance in Cyprus will be a cause of war and will elicit Greek military response. In early 1995, Greece and Cyprus formed closer military ties through the pronouncement of a joint defense doctrine to serve as deterrent against any further Turkish military action in Cyprus.

International disputes: Since the summer of 1974, Turkish troops have occupied the northern 37% of the island's territory. The Turkish-occupied area is separated from the free area by a narrow UN buffer zone. In 1983, occupation authorities declared the area under their control an "independent state," the so-called "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" (TRNC) recognized only by Turkey. UN Security Council resolution 541 considers TRNC unilateral declaration of independence "legally invalid." The only internationally recognized legitimate authority in Cyprus is that of the government of the Republic of Cyprus. The US State Department recognizes only the Cyprus government.

Comparative Data for Cyprus and Turkey:

                     Cyprus         Turkey

Territory            3,572sq mi      300,94sq mi
Population           723,000         60 millon	             
GDP                  $7.2bn (1993)   $173.7bn (1993)
Per Capita           $12,233(1993)   $4,800 (1993)
Armed Forces         10,000          504,000
Defense budget       $511.0mi        $4,6bn
(Cyprus has no air force or navy)  

Relations with Neighbors: Cyprus maintains friendly relations with all its neighbors with the exception of Turkey. Relations with Egypt are very close while relations with Lebanon and Syria are quite friendly. Since independence in 1960, relations with Israel were mostly friendly, but underwent periodic crises. Over the last few years, Cypriot-Israeli relations have improved steadily and close cooperation exists in several fields. Greece remains the closer supporter and ally of Cyprus.


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