Cyprus is the 3rd largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, with an estimated area of 9,251 sq. km. Its strategic position is significant since it lies in the northeastern corner of the Sea, where three continents join viz. Europe, Asia and Africa. At the end of 1997, Cyprus’ population stood at 746,100. It consisted of over 85% Greek-Cypriots, which includes Maronites, Armenian, Latins, 12% Turkish Cypriots and 3% foreigners residing in Cyprus.
Tormented by ethnic fighting during the 1960s, Cyprus has been divided as Turkey attacked and invaded the north in 1974, following an Athens-backed overthrow by Greek Cypriot military officers who supported unification with Greece. A projected 200,000 Greek Cypriots fled their homes to the south, at the same time as Turkey settled about 50,000 additional Turks in the north. The Cyprus problem has been aptly compared to a padlock requiring four keys, held respectively by the Greek Cypriots, the Turkish Cypriots, Greece and Turkey.
Greek Cypriots creating Trouble for Turkey & Turkish Cypriots: An Introduction As the Cyprus predicament grows deeper the Greek Cypriots have created new troubles for Turkey. Turkey’s EU Accession Turkey’s desire to become a member of the European Union hinged on resolving the Cyprus issue. Supporters of Turkey’s EU membership maintain that she is an important regional power (Friedman, 2007) with a great economy and the second biggest military force of NATO (Oymen, 1999; Economist, September 2006) that will boost the European Union’s importance as an international geostrategic player.
Moreover Turkey’s geographic location and economic, political, cultural and historic link in regions with large natural resources are at the close neighborhood of the European Union’s geopolitical area of influence; namely the East Mediterranean and Black Sea coasts, the Middle East, the Caspian Sea basin and Central Asia (Mango, 2000; Shaw and Kural Shaw, 1977). Cyprus being a member of EU is opposing Turkey’s EU accession talks on energy issues as a result of the dispute. It has charged Turkey for the harassment of hydrocarbon research vessels four times since November 13, 2008.
Turkey on the other hand said the ships, on two past occasions, intruded her continental shelf. Turkey has said Cyprus’ oil discovery could disturb reunification efforts since natural resources should belong to all people of the island i. e. Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Cyprus Unification Plans Greek Cypriots have disregarded international demands and have voted by a massive margin to quash a United Nations plan that would have united Cyprus, and rather decided to send a split nation – without its Turkish Cypriot citizens – into the European Union.
On the other hand, Turkish Cypriots in the split northern third of the country voted in support of the plan. Nevertheless, both sides had to endorse the UN solution for it to succeed. Greek Cypriots resisted the unification plan in large numbers since it does not allocate all Greek Cypriot refugees to return to their homes in the north although it allows Turkish settlers to stay on the island, however not essentially in the homes they relocated about 3 decades ago. The Turkish army, which has about 30,000 troops in the north, would be permitted to keep a scaled-down troop existence – another stumbling block for many Greek Cypriots.
The plan, drawn up after years of tough negotiations headed personally by U. N. Secretary-General, also envisaged creating a lax federal government that would administer two principally independent ethnic-based states. In contrast, a number of Turkish Cypriots favored the U. N. solution since they saw unity and EU entry as a way to greater affluence and an ending of their seclusion. Only Turkey recognizes the north as a separate state, and an embargo has been in place for years.
Yet many Greek Cypriots believed that they had nothing to lose: They could rebuff the unification plan and still be permitted to join EU, at the same time as leaving behind the poorer Turkish Cypriot. References Economist (2006-09-28). “Who is losing Turkey? “ Friedman, George (2007). “The Geopolitics of Turkey”. Strategic Forecasting Inc. Mango, Andrew (2000). Ataturk. Overlook. Oymen, Onur. (1999). “Turkey”. My Country & NATO. NATO. Shaw, Stanford Jay and Kural Shaw, Ezel. (1977). History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey. Cambridge University Press.