On 15 July 1974 the ruling military junta of Greece staged a coup to overthrow the democratically elected Government of Cyprus.
On 20 July Turkey, using the coup as a pretext, invaded Cyprus, purportedly to restore constitutional order. Instead, it seized 36.2%% of the territory of Cyprus in the north, an act universally condemned as a gross infringement of international law and the UN Charter. Turkey, only 75 km away, had repeatedly claimed, for decades before the invasion and frequently afterwards, that Cyprus was of vital strategic importance to it. Ankara has defied a host of UN resolutions demanding the withdrawal of its occupation troops from the island.
On 1 November 1974, the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted Resolution 3212, the first of many resolutions calling for respect for the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and non-alignment of the Republic of Cyprus and for the speedy withdrawal of all foreign troops.
Furthermore, the General Assembly, the Security Council and the Commission on Human Rights of the United Nations as well as the Non-Aligned Movement, the Commonwealth, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and other international organisations have demanded the urgent return of the refugees to their homes in safety and the full restoration of all the human rights of the population of Cyprus.
The invasion and occupation has had disastrous consequences. About 170,000 Greek-Cypriots living in the north – nearly one quarter of the population of Cyprus – were forcibly expelled from the occupied northern part of the island where they constituted 80% of the population. These people are still deprived of the right to return to their homes and properties. A further 20.000 Greek-Cypriots enclaved in the occupied area were gradually forced through intimidation and denial of their basic human rights to abandon their homes. Today there are fewer than 500 enclaved persons (Greek-Cypriots and Maronites).
The invasion also had a disastrous impact on the Cyprus economy because 30% of the economically active population became unemployed and because of the loss of:
■ 70% of the gross output
■ 65% of the tourist accommodation capacity and 87% of hotel beds under construction
■ 83% of the general cargo handling at Famagusta port
■ 40% of school buildings
■ 56% of mining and quarrying output
■ about 41% of livestock production
■ 48% of agricultural exports
■ 46% of industrial production
■ 20% of the state forests
Furthermore, Turkish forces occupied an area, which accounted for 46% of crop production and much higher percentages of citrus fruit production (79%), cereals (68%), tobacco (100%), carobs (86%) and green fodder (65%).
Turkey has promoted the demographic change of the occupied territory through the implantation of Anatolian settlers. Since the invasion some 160.000 Turks from Turkey have been illegally imported in the occupied area.
The large influx of settlers has negatively affected the living conditions of the Turkish-Cypriots. Poverty, unemployment and moral deprivation has forced 57.000 to emigrate and as a result Turkish-Cypriots are now outnumbered by troops and settlers from Turkey.
On 15 November 1983 the Turkish-occupied area was unilaterally declared an independent “state”. The international community, through UN Security Council Resolutions 541 of 1983 and 550 of 1984, condemned this unilateral declaration by the Turkish Cypriot regime, declared it both illegal and invalid, and called for its immediate revocation. To this day, country in the world except Turkey has recognised this spurious entity.
Negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus problem have been going on intermittently since 1975 under the auspices of the United Nations. The basis for the solution of the Cyprus problem are the UN Security Council resolutions and two high-level agreements concluded between the Greek-Cypriot and the Turkish-Cypriot leaders in 1977 and 1979. In 2004 a Plan for the solution of the Cyprus problem was proposed by the Secretary General of the United Nations Organisation. The Plan, which was submitted to separate referenda, was rejected by the Greek-Cypriots, whilst accepted by the Turkish Cypriots. In 2008 a new round of negotiations between the two Communities started. This effort is still under way.