Cyprus became an independent republic on 16th August 1960. It is a member of the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the Commonwealth and the Non-Aligned Movement. According to the above treaty, Britain retains two Sovereign Bases (158.5 sq. km) on the island, at Dekeleia and Akrotiri-Episkopi.
The 1960 Constitution of the Cyprus Republic proves unworkable in many of its provisions and this makes its smooth implementation impossible. In 1963, the President of the Republic proposes some amendments to facilitate the functioning of the state and the Turkish Cypriot community responds with rebellion. The Turkish Cypriot ministers withdraw from the Cabinet and Turkish Cypriot civil servants cease to attend their offices while Turkey threatens to invade Cyprus. Since then, the aim of the Turkish Cypriot leadership, acting on instructions from the Turkish Government, has been the partitioning of Cyprus and its annexation to Turkey.
Using as a pretext the coup of July 1974, instigated against the Cyprus Government by the military Junta, then in power in Athens, Turkey invades Cyprus on July 20 1974, violating all principles governing international relations and the UN Charter. As a result, approximately 37% of the island is occupied, 40% of the Greek Cypriot population violently uprooted and thousands of people, including civilians, killed, ill-treated or disappear without trace.
The continuation of Turkish military occupation and the violation of the fundamental human rights of the people of Cyprus have been condemned by international bodies, but until today Turkey refuses to withdraw from Cyprus and maintains the island’s division by the force of arms.
In 1983, the Turkish-held area declared itself the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” but it is recognized only by Turkey.
Cyprus, although a small country, has a rich cultural heritage which is evident from the fact that the antiquities of Pafos as well as nine Byzantine Churches from the Troodos region are included in the official World Cultural Heritage list.
Unfortunately, since July 1974 a significant part of our cultural heritage is under Turkish occupation and as a result acquaintance with it is impossible. This heritage has been suffering deliberate and serious destruction, since the Turkish forces systematically aim at changing the demographic and cultural structure of occupied Cyprus.
The latest two-year round of UN-brokered direct talks – between the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to reach an agreement to reunite the divided island – ended when the Greek Cypriots rejected the UN settlement plan in an April 2004 referendum. Although only the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot-controlled Republic of Cyprus joined the EU on 1 May 2004, every Cypriot carrying a Cyprus passport will have the status of a European citizen. EU laws, however, will not apply to north Cyprus.