Conflict Summary

Since the partition of Cyprus in 1974, the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities have both claimed de facto sovereignty. However, the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC) has been recognised only by Turkey while the Republic of Cyprus remains the internationally legitimate entity. The presence of 30,000 Turkish troops, officially to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority, has aggravated Greek Cypriots and the Greek government. The rejection of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan’s conflict resolution proposal—the 'Annan Plan'—by the Greek Cypriot population in 2004 shifted international pressure onto the Greek Cypriot side. This pressure intensified following the election of pro-unification TRNC Mehmet Ali Talat as president in 2008, but ultimately produced little, with Talat losing office to the conservative Dervis Eroglu in 2010 without having made a significant breakthrough.

Since its accession to the EU in 2004, and in the background to the talks ongoing since 2008, Greek Cyprus has tried to force a favourable result by freezing several of Turkey's EU negotiation chapters. The tactic appears to have backfired, with Turkey proving unwilling to concede its interests in North Cyprus in order to expedite an uncertain path to EU membership. Partly as a result, the conflict remains in deadlock, and towards the end of 2010 signs emerged that the UN was growing tired of underwriting unending talks and maintaining its decades long commitment to the island. The possibility of a successful reunification remains decidedly uncertain, as meetings between the two leaders in 2011 and 2012 left the peace process decidedly stuck in the status quo. Increasing tensions and contributing to instability recently has been the discovery of oil and gas off the coast of the island.