The Foreign Policy of Internationalization

Cyprus Table of Contents

Greek Cypriots have focused most of their foreign policy energies since 1974 on winning broader international support for a Cyprus settlement providing for a withdrawal of Turkish troops and, to the extent possible, a restoration of the status quo ante of a single government on the island and the free flow of people and goods throughout its territory. The republic continued to enjoy international recognition as the legal government of Cyprus, and Cyprus's membership in the Nonaligned Movement (NAM), the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), the United Nations, and the Commonwealth Conference provided opportunities to promote these aims. Resolutions passed by these organizations called for the withdrawal of foreign troops, condemned Turkey's settler policy, urged the immediate implementation of UN resolutions, and called for sanctions against Turkey.

Cyprus placed considerable importance on its membership in the NAM. It hosted a number of NAM meetings and headed an effort in 1989 and 1990 to redefine the NAM's objectives in light of the dramatic changes in East-West relations and the virtual end of superpower rivalry and competition. Support from the nonaligned states was particularly important during UN debates. Greek Cypriots were aware that UN resolutions lacked direct effect on Turkey unless accompanied by substantive sanctions, but they hoped that collective international pressure might yield some results. On occasion, the republic was persuaded by its Western allies to forego the annual UN General Assembly resolution debate, avoiding repetitious and largely ineffective rituals and allowing the UNsponsored talks to proceed without undue pressure. President Vassiliou adapted the traditional Greek Cypriot strategy to his new thinking by occasionally modifying his language, avoiding punitive measures, and emphasizing positive incentives to engage Turkish Cypriots in negotiations. After the collapse of the 1990 UN talks, however, Greek Cypriot positions in international organizations returned to earlier phases, seeking direct condemnation of Turkish and Turkish Cypriot policies and practices.

The strategy of internationalization became more Europeoriented in 1990. After the fall of the Berlin wall and the commitment to unification of the two Germanies, the Greek Cypriot republic perceived its situation as increasingly anomalous and unacceptable. It argued that, after Soviet troops completed withdrawing from Eastern Europe, Cyprus would be the only country in Europe with foreign occupying troops. The unification of Germany also underscored the deep Greek Cypriot yearning for reunification, and Greek Cypriots held candlelight processions around the old walls of the capital, Nicosia, calling for an end to the division of the island.

The decline of the relative importance of NATO among European institutions had both advantages and disadvantages for Greek Cypriot foreign policy. On the one hand, it appeared to reduce Turkey's leverage over its Western allies and opened the way for broader pressures on Turkey. On the other hand, the potential loosening of Turkey's ties with Western partners could also weaken those countries' influence on Turkey's policies. In addition, the preoccupation with Germany and the emergence of new violent conflicts in the Balkans made it harder to keep the attention of European powers on Cyprus.

The proposals in mid-1990 to expand the mission and scope of the CSCE appealed to Greek Cypriots. They had found participation in the CSCE, along with six other neutral and nonaligned European states, less satisfactory when the organization's main function was as a forum for East-West confidence-building measures. In a future united Europe, however, Cypriots could envision a greater role for the small states in the CSCE, and some believed that the CSCE's expanded conflict-mediation role might have benefits for Cyprus. The Italian proposal for a southern variant of the CSCE, the CSCMediterranean , found tentative support from both Cypriot communities.

More about the Government and Politics of Cyprus.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress