Developments Since 1974

Cyprus Table of Contents

The de facto partition of Cyprus resulting from the Turkish invasion, or intervention, as the Turks preferred to call their military action, caused much suffering in addition to the thousands of dead, many of whom were unaccounted for even years later. An estimated one-third of the population of each ethnic community had to flee their homes. The island's economy was devastated.

Efforts were undertaken immediately to remedy the effects of the catastrophe. Intensive government economic planning and intervention on both sides of the island soon improved living standards and allowed the construction of housing for refugees. Both communities benefited greatly from the expansion of the tourist industry, which brought millions of foreign visitors to the island during the 1980s. The economic success of the Republic of Cyprus was significant enough to seem almost miraculous. Within just a few years, the refugees had housing and were integrated in the bustling economy, and Greek Cypriots enjoyed a West European standard of living. Turkish Cypriots did not do as well, but, working against an international embargo imposed by the Republic of Cyprus and benefiting from extensive Turkish aid, they managed to ensure a decent standard of living for all members of their community--a standard of living, in fact, that was higher than that of Turkey. Both communities established government agencies to provide public assistance to those who needed it and built modern education systems extending to the university level.

Both communities soon developed political systems on the European model, with parties representing mainstream political opinion from right to the left. Greek Cypriots had two older parties dating from before 1970, the Progressive Party of the Working People (Anorthotikon Komma Ergazomenou Laou--AKEL) and the United Democratic Union of Cyprus (Eniea Demokratiki Enosis Kyprou- -EDEK), and some formed after the events of 1974. The two most important of these newer parties were the Democratic Party (Dimokratiko Komma--DIKO) and the Democratic Rally (Dimokratikos Synagermos--DISY). Both of these parties were on the right, with DIKO headed by Spyros Kyprianou, who replaced Makarios as president after the latter's death in 1977, and DISY led by veteran politician Glafkos Clerides. Parliamentary elections held in 1976, 1981, and 1985 resulted in stable patterns in the House of Representatives that permitted coalition-building and a serious opposition to the government in power. Kyprianou was reelected president in 1983, but lost in 1988 to George Vassiliou, a successful businessman and a political outsider who had the support of AKEL and EDEK. Vassiliou won election by promising to bring a new spirit to politics and break the deadlocked negotiations to end the island's division.

The Turkish Cypriots' progress to parliamentary democracy was not as easy. First they had to build a new state. In 1975 the "Turkish Federated State of Cyprus" was proclaimed. In 1983, by means of a unilateral declaration of independence, Turkish Cypriots created the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" ("TRNC"), but by the early 1990s, only Turkey had recognized it as a nation. Rauf Denktas, who had been the political leader of the Turkish Cypriot community since the 1970s, was elected president of the "TRNC." A number of political parties were active in the area occupied by the "TRNC." They included both left- and right-wing parties, which both supported and opposed the settlement of mainland Turks on the island and the politics of partition. The largest party, the National Unity Party (Ulusal Birlik Partisi--UBP), was founded and controlled by Denktas. The UBP supported a resolutely separatist stance. The second party of the "TRNC," the Communal Liberation Party (Toplumcu Kurtulus Partisi-- TKP) advocated closer relations with the Greek Cypriot community. The left-wing Republican Turkish Party (Cumhuriyetçi Türk Partisi-- CTP) was even more forthright in its opposition to the government's policy of restricted relations with the Republic of Cyprus.

Negotiations began in the mid-1970s to end the de facto partition and to bring the two communities together again. Two major compromises on the part of the Republic of Cyprus occurred in the second half of the 1970s. First, in 1977, four guidelines for future intercommunal talks were accepted by both communities; their thrust was that Cyprus would become a bicommunal federal republic, a departure from the terms of the constitution of 1960. Second, the ten-point agreement of 1979, achieved at a meeting between Kyprianou and Denktas, worked out policies to ease further intercommunal talks.

A possible settlement was missed in 1985 when Kyprianou refused to sign a recently worked-out accord, fearing it conceded too much to the other side. The stalemate continued up to the election of Vassiliou in 1988. Agreement on some major points had slowly evolved, but the practical steps to realize an actual settlement were still not attainable. Differences in the two communities' view of the desirable mixture of federation or confederation and the powers of a central government seemed unbridgeable.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress