A united Cyprus became independent from the United Kingdom in 1960. Greek and Turkish Cypriots had earlier sought respectively to unite with Greece and Turkey. A Constitution was established which apportioned government positions, Parliamentary seats and places in the administration.

Following disagreements on constitutional amendments applied by the President in 1963, which Turkish Cypriots claimed to significantly weaken their position, the Supreme Constitutional Court of Cyprus found the amendments to be unconstitutional. They were nonetheless implemented, cementing the withdrawal of Turkish representatives from government institutions.

A level of inter-communal violence broke out leading to  Turkish resistance groups establishing enclaves and Greek Cypriot irregular forces, with widespread looting of villages and the retreat of a significant number of refugees into armed enclaves which were supplied from Turkey. In 1967 a Turkish Cypriot provisional administration was founded.

Turkish Invasion

In 1974, the Greek military junta and Cypriot National Guard-backed a Greek Cypriot military coup d’état in Cyprus which was perceived as an attempt to annex the island to Greece. It led to a Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

Turkey claimed that the action breached the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee and justified military action to protect the Turkish Cypriot population.  Turkey invaded Cyprus on 20th July 1974 taking over the northern, 36% of Cyprus. This caused a Civil War with significant ethnic violence.

The invasion and earlier tensions led to the eviction of much of North Greek Cypriot population and a movement of Turkish Cypriots in the South, with an effective partitioning of the island. In 1975, a population exchange was agreed between communal leaders under the auspices of the United Nations.

The invasion led to the formation of an administrative body in Northern Cyprus, the autonomous the Turkish Cypriot Administration. In 1975, the Turkish Federation State of Cyprus was declared. After eight further years of failed negotiations, Northern Cyprus unilaterally declared its independence in 1983 under the name the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

To-date attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute have been unsuccessful. There is a large Turkish army presence.

EU Accession

It was hoped that Cyprus’s accession to the European Union would lead to a settlement. A United Nation peace settlement was put to a referendum. The Presidents of Northern and Southern Cyprus opposed the referendum which was carried by 65% in Northern Cyprus but rejected by 76% in Greek Cyprus. Cyprus entered the European Union with the effects of European Union’s membership suspended for Northern Cyprus.

Cyprus acceded to the European Union in 2004. All EU states recognise only the Greek Cypriot, the Republic of Cyprus as the legitimate government of all of Cyprus. The self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is recognised by Turkey only.

Northern Cyprus is recognised by law as part of the Republic of Cyprus but is recognised as being outside the control of the Greek Cypriot government. It is temporarily exempted from EU legislation. The Schengen  Agreement is not in effect. The euro does not circulate.

The EU Parliament seats are allocated on the basis of the entire population. However, elections do not take place in Northern Cyprus although there have been proposals for observers from the North to sit in the Parliament.

Green Line / Border Area

A UN buffer zone of varying width separates the two parts of the island. The UN buffer zone ranges from a few meters in width to several kilometres in the countryside. It is nominally under the control of the Republic of Cyprus but is effectively administered by United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. There is a population of 8,686. The Cyprus protocol allows the European Council to determine to what extent the provisions of EU law apply to the buffer zone.

Naturalised citizens of Northern Cyprus or persons carrying a passport stamped by Northern Cyprus may be refused entry into the Republic of Cyprus or Greece.

The so-called Green Line Regulation regulates the position of Northern Cyprus after EU accession. It emphasises the strong preference for the accession by a reunited Cyprus.

The Green Line is defined as the effective border between the areas under the control of the government of the Republic of Cyprus and the other areas (effectively the unrecognised Northern Cyprus) which the EU does not recognise. This is the Green Line applicable for the purpose of checks on persons.

For the purpose of checks on goods, the line is between the areas over which the government of the Republic of Cyprus does not exercise effective control and both those areas which the Republic of Cyprus exercises control and the Eastern Sovereign Base Area of the United Kingdom.


The Republic of Cyprus is to carry out checks on persons crossing the line with the aim of combating illegal immigration of third-party nationals and to detect and prevent any threat to public security and policy. The checks are to be carried out on vehicles and objects in the possession of persons crossing the line. All persons shall undergo at least one such check in order to establish their identity.

Third country nationals are permitted to cross the line provided they possess a residence permit issued by the Republic of Cyprus or a valid travel document and if required, a valid visa for the Republic of Cyprus and do not represent a threat to public policy or public security.

The line is to be crossed only at crossing points authorised by the competent authorities of the Republic of Cyprus. A list is set out in Annex to the legislation.

The provisions of a protocol apply to checks between the Eastern Sovereign Base Area and the area outside the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus.


Goods may be introduced into the area under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus, on condition they are wholly obtained in the areas, not under the effective control and have undergone their last substantial economically justified processing or working in an undertaking equipped for that purpose in those areas (Northern Cyprus).

Goods shall not be subject to customs duties or charges having an equivalent effect nor a customs declaration. They are not eligible for export refunds or intervention measures under CAP. In order to ensure effective controls, the quantities crossing the lines must be registered.

Goods shall cross the line only at the defined crossing points. The goods shall be subject to requirements and undergo checks required by EU legislation in respect of phytosanitary and safety requirements. Goods shall be accompanied by a document issued by the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, duly authorised by the Commission or another representative body. They shall maintain records of such documents to enable the Commission to monitor the type and volume of goods crossing as well as their compliance.

After goods have crossed into the area under the control of the Government of Cyprus, the Government of Cyprus is to check the authenticity of documents.

The authorities of the Sovereign Base Area may maintain the traditional supply of the Turkish Cypriot population of the village of Pyla with goods coming from the areas not under the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus. They shall supervise the quantities.

Goods which are allowed to cross the line are not subject to export formalities. However, the necessary equivalent document shall be provided, in full in respect of Cypriot internal legislation by the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus on request.

Agriculture and Services

The movement of live animals and animal products across the line is prohibited.No export refund is paid for agricultural or for processed agricultural goods when crossing the line. The movement of goods, the removal or export of which from the customs territory of the EU is prohibited or subject to authorisation, restrictions, duties or charges on export by EU law, is prohibited.


To the extent that services are supplied across the line or from persons established there or having their permanent establishment in the areas of the effective control of the Republic of Cyprus, they are for VAT purposes deemed, to have been supplied by persons established and having their permanent address in the parts of Cyprus under its effective control.

The Regulation is to be kept under review and monitored. In the event of an emergency creating a threat or risk to public or animal or plant health, the appropriate procedures in EU legislation (phytosanitary legislation) apply.

UK Sovereign Bases

When the Republic of Cyprus was established, the retained two Sovereign Base Areas. An RAF Air Marshall is appointed to administer the Sovereign Base Areas. The total area of the Bases is 98 square miles with a population of approximately 15,000 including 3,600 UK personnel and 4400 dependents.

One substantial area is in the south of the island and the other is on the east and runs contiguous with the UN buffer zone between Northern and Southern Cyprus. Approximately 3% of the island is taken up by the UK Sovereign Bases.

A protocol applies EU law including the common agricultural policies, customs, indirect taxation, social policy, justice and home affairs of the Sovereign Base Areas. The authorities are responsible for the provision of directly applicable EU law.

The UK agreed in the protocol to maintain enough control of the external off island and north and southwest borders of the Base to ensure that the border between the Sovereign Base and the Republic of Cyprus can remain fully open and does not have to be policed as an EU external border. The Sovereign Base will be effectively part of the Schengen area if as proposed, it is joined by Cyprus. It is de facto part of the eurozone.

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