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Cyprus - Government and Politics

THE SHAPE, STRUCTURE, and status of Cyprus's government have been sources of bitter controversy for most of the nation's history since independence in 1960, and have become the "national" question for both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. Politics in both communities, governed separately since 1964 and physically separated since 1974, have been dominated by the lack of consensus, both between and within the two communities, over the very identity of the state and the structure of its government and political institutions.

The original political arrangements outlined in the 1960 constitution were in effect for only three years. By 1963, after proposals by President Archbishop Makarios III (1960-77) to amend the constitution in ways widely viewed as favoring the majority Greek Cypriot population, Turkish Cypriots withdrew from many national institutions and began self-government in the Turkish quarters of the island's towns and cities and in villages in Turkey.

A more significant change occurred after the 1974 Turkish intervention. Following the dislocation and resettlement of large segments of both communities, the current situation emerged: two separate governments--only one of which enjoys international recognition as the legitimate government--functioning in two discrete geographic zones. In February 1975, the provisional Turkish Cypriot administration declared itself the "Turkish Federated State of Cyprus" ("TFSC"), although it stated its intention to move toward a federal solution with the Greek Cypriots and pledged not to seek recognition as an independent state. In October 1983, after continued stalemate of United Nations (UN) efforts toward a settlement, Turkish Cypriots renamed their "state" the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" ("TRNC"). While restating their commitment to working toward a federal solution, Turkish Cypriot authorities launched an international campaign for recognition of their state, arguing that recognition would facilitate a solution by according the island's two political entities equal status. As of the early 1990s, however, only Turkey had recognized the "TRNC."

Greek Cypriots maintained that the Republic of Cyprus established in 1960 continued to exist, with functioning institutions, absent Turkish Cypriot participation. The status of the 1959 treaties that established the republic in 1960 remained in dispute, posing a challenge to the Greek Cypriot claim of legal authority and sovereignty over the whole island (except for the 256 square kilometers that are sovereign British base areas). The Greek Cypriot position on the legal status of the 1959 agreements is not completely clear. The late president Makarios attempted to invalidate the Treaty of Guarantee, and later Greek Cypriot leaders claimed it violated their sovereignty, but on occasion they have tried to invoke it. For example, after the 1983 Turkish Cypriot declaration of statehood, the republic's president tried to persuade the British government to intervene under the terms of that treaty's Article IV.

Since the 1974 crisis and the emergence of the Cyprus question as an international political problem, the Republic of Cyprus has had three presidents. Makarios, the dominant political and religious figure for Greek Cypriots, died of a heart attack in the summer of 1977 at age sixty-three. He was succeeded by Spyros Kyprianou, leader of the ruling Democratic Party, and Makarios's ecclesiastical responsibilities were assumed by Bishop Chrysostomos of Paphos. Kyprianou was reelected unopposed in January 1978 and was reelected in contested elections in 1983. In February 1988, Kyprianou was ousted in an upset by newcomer George Vassiliou, a successful businessman with no party affiliation, who campaigned on a promise to bring fresh ideas and energy to the settlement process.

Leadership of the Turkish Cypriot community has remained since 1974 in the hands of Rauf Denktas, elected president of the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" ("TFSC") in July 1975 and reelected in 1981. In 1985, under a new constitution in the newly formed "Turkish Federated State of Cyprus" ("TRNC"), Denktas again won at the polls, by a margin of 70.4 percent, and in April 1990 received 67.1 percent of the vote, defeating two opponents.

The search for a settlement through creation of a new federal republic continued in the late 1980s and in 1990. Talks intensified after Vassiliou's election, and the UN-sponsored negotiations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots in 1988-90 aimed at outlining a framework for establishing a federal republic that would be bicommunal with respect to constitutional issues and bizonal with respect to territorial concerns. Early optimism that Vassiliou would be the catalytic force to bring the talks to a successful conclusion was dampened when talks broke down in early 1990. Despite tentative progress on closing the gap between Greek Cypriot demands for freedom of movement, property, and settlement and the Turkish Cypriot demand for strict bizonality with considerable authority to the two provinces or states, the process was encumbered by deep mistrust between the two sides and a growing conviction that the Turkish Cypriot side was more inclined to work for its separate status than for power sharing in a unitary state with Greek Cypriots.

<>1960 Constitution
<>1963 Constitutional Breakdown
<>1964-74 Situation: Separate Communal Life
<>The 1974 Crisis and Division of the Island
<>Milestones in the United Nations Settlement Process
<>1977 Makarios-Denktas Accords
<>1979 Kyprianou-Denktas Communiqué
<>1984 Proximity Talks
<>1985-86 Draft Framework Exercise
<>1988-90 Vassiliou-Denktas Meetings
Political Institutions
<>Political Parties
<>Political Dynamics
<>Political Culture in the Vassiliou Era
<>The Republic of Cyprus
<>The Foreign Policy of Internationalization
<>Relations with Greece
<>Relations with the United States and the Soviet Union
<>Relations with the Europe
<>Other Foreign Policy Concerns
<>The "TRNC"

Cyprus - Government and Politics - BACKGROUND

The Republic of Cyprus was created in 1960 through international agreements reached in Zurich and London in February 1959, with a constitution that went into effect in August 1960. The constitution recognized the strong bicommunal character of the new state, with elaborate safeguards for the minority Turkish Cypriot community. In the preindependence debate over the governmental structure of the new state, neither Britain nor the Turkish Cypriot community accepted the concept of "minority rights" as an organizing principle. Rather, the Turkish Cypriots were recognized as one of two "communities" with certain rights; the legitimacy of the state would derive from the partnership between the two communities. The Cypriot consociational experiment had some unique features designed to achieve a delicate balance between the prevailing Greek Cypriot preference for a unitary state and the Turkish Cypriot desire for as much recognition as a separate political entity as possible. The tension between these two communal priorities proved insurmountable.

Since 1964, the constitution of 1960 has not been the legal document governing relations between the two communities, although it remains the basis of government and law for the 80 percent of the population that are Greek Cypriot and residing in the twothirds of the island controlled by the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus. The "TRNC" approved a new constitution in 1985, which established a parliamentary system in the north.

Cyprus - 1960 Constitution

At independence, Cyprus's constitution called for a government divided into executive, legislative, and judicial branches, headed by a president, with strong guarantees for the Turkish Cypriot community. The constitution arranged for a Greek Cypriot president and Turkish Cypriot vice president, elected by their respective communities for five-year terms of office. Members of the island's other minorities--Armenians, Maronites, and Roman Catholics--were given the option of joining one of the communities for voting purposes. All chose to be identified as Greek, although some have continued to live in the Turkish zone since the 1974 division of the island. Greek and Turkish were designated as official languages, and the two communities were given the right to celebrate, respectively, Greek and Turkish national holidays.

The constitution further provided that executive power in all but communal matters be vested in the president and vice president. The two executives had the right of veto, separately or jointly, over certain laws or decisions of both the Council of Ministers and the House of Representatives, the legislative body. The constitution spelled out in detail their powers and duties.

The Council of Ministers was to be composed of seven Greek Cypriots and three Turkish Cypriots, with the former appointed by the president and the latter by the vice president. Decisions of the council were to be taken by absolute majority. Of three key portfolios--defense, finance, and foreign affairs--one was to be held by a Turkish Cypriot.

The unicameral House of Representatives was designed to legislate for the republic in all matters except those expressly reserved to separate communal chambers. The constitution provided that thirty-five of its members be Greek Cypriots and fifteen Turkish Cypriots. (Representation in proportion to communal strength would have resulted in a forty-to-ten ratio.) Members, elected from separate communal rolls, were to serve for terms of five years. The House of Representatives's president was to be a Greek Cypriot and its vice president, a Turkish Cypriot.

Voting in the House of Representatives was to be by majority, except that separate majorities in the two communities were required for imposition of taxes or duties, modification of the electoral law, or laws relating to the separate municipalities in the five main towns. The establishment of these municipalities became one of the most controversial intercommunal issues. While the constitution called for their establishment, implementing legislation was never passed, because the Greeks were convinced that such laws could lead to partition. Turkish Cypriots have long cited this issue as evidence of the Greek Cypriots' intention to undermine the Turkish Cypriots' separate communal identity.

The constitution also called for the creation of two communal chambers, composed of representatives elected by each community. These chambers were empowered to deal with religious, educational, and cultural matters, questions of personal status, and the supervision of cooperatives and credit societies. To supplement an annual provision to the chambers from the government budget, the constitution enabled the communal chambers to impose taxes and fees of their own to support their activities.

The judicial system broadly outlined in the Zurich-London accords and stipulated in detail in the constitution included the Supreme Constitutional Court, the High Court of Justice, district and assize courts, and communal courts. At the summit was the Supreme Constitutional Court, composed of three judges: a Greek Cypriot, a Turkish Cypriot, and a contracted judge from a neutral country who would serve as president of the court. The president, who was entitled to two votes, would serve for six years, while the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot judges would serve until age sixty-eight. The court was to have final jurisdiction on matters of constitutional interpretation and adjudication of disputes centering on alleged discrimination in law against either of the two communities.

This bicommunal structure was duplicated in the High Court of Justice, which exercised appellate jurisdiction over lower courts in civil and criminal matters. The lower courts were assize courts, with criminal jurisdiction, and district courts, with civil jurisdiction except in questions of personal status and religious matters. Disputes between plaintiffs and the defendants belonging to the same community were to be tried by tribunals composed of judges belonging to the appropriate community. Disputes between members of different communities were to tried by mixed tribunals whose compositions were to be determined by the High Court of Justice.

Civil disputes relating to questions of personal status and religious matters were to be tried in communal courts. These courts were rigidly limited in jurisdiction and could not impose restraint, detention, or imprisonment.

The constitution set forth other safeguards for the Turkish Cypriot minority in sections dealing with the civil service and the armed forces of the republic. According to the 1960 census, Greek Cypriots composed 77 percent of the population, Turkish Cypriots 18.3 percent, and other minorities the remainder. The constitution required that the two groups be represented in the civil service at a ratio of 70 to 30 percent. In addition, the republic was to have an army of 2,000 members, 60 percent Greek Cypriot and 40 percent Turkish Cypriot. After an initial period, a 2,000-member security force consisting of police and gendarmerie was to be 70 percent Greek Cypriot and 30 percent Turkish Cypriot.

The organizational structure and qualifications of the civil service were laid down on the model of the British civil service, with provisions for tenure, career status, and promotion through a grade-level system. The ten-member Public Service Commission determined the rules of conduct and qualifications for the various positions.

Cyprus - 1963 Constitutional Breakdown

The 1960 constitution did not succeed in providing the framework for a lasting compromise between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Rather, its bicommunal features impeded administration and gave rise to continuing dissension, which culminated finally in armed violence between members of the two communities. Beginning in late 1963, Turkish Cypriots withdrew from the government, and by 1965 the Greek Cypriots were in full charge.

The constitution failed to allay the suspicion and distrust that had increasingly divided the two communities, especially since the eruption of intercommunal violence in 1958. Many Greek Cypriots viewed the Zurich-London agreements as imposed on Cyprus from outside, and therefore illegitimate. Their main objection to the agreements, however, was that they barred the unification, or enosis, of Cyprus with Greece. Greek Cypriots also viewed the constitutional provisions drafted to safeguard minority rights as granting the Turkish Cypriots disproportionate privileges that the Turkish Cypriots abused. Therefore, some politically active elements of the Greek Cypriot community were motivated to undermine the constitution, or at least press for modifications.

Turkish Cypriots, some of whom also would have preferred different arrangements than those contained in the independence documents, such as taksim, or partition, of the island and union of its two parts with the respective motherlands (so-called double enosis), nonetheless maintained that the separative provisions of the constitution were essential to their security and identity as a separate national community.

A number of quarrels broke out over the balance of representation of the two communities in the government and over foreign policy, taxation by communal chambers, and other matters, bringing the government to a virtual standstill. The leading cause of disagreements was the ratio of Greek Cypriots to Turkish Cypriots in the civil service. Turkish Cypriots complained that the seventy-to-thirty ratio was not enforced. Greek Cypriots felt that the provisions discriminated against them, because they constituted almost 80 percent of the population. Another major point of contention concerned the composition of units under the sixty-to- forty ratio decreed for the Cypriot army. President Makarios favored complete integration; Vice President Fazil Küçük accepted a mixed force at the battalion level but insisted on segregated companies. On October 20, 1961, Küçük used his constitutional veto power for the first and only time to halt the development of a fully integrated force. Makarios then stated that the country could not afford an army anyway. Planning and development of the national army ceased, and paramilitary forces arose in each community.

From the start, Greek Cypriots had been uneasy about the idea of separate municipalities, which Turkish Cypriots were determined to preserve. Also, the Greek Cypriot Communal Chamber never set up a communal court system, whereas Turkish Cypriot communal courts were established.

Still another issue that provoked strong Greek Cypriot criticism was the right of the veto held by the Turkish Cypriot vice president and what amounted to final veto power held by the Turkish Cypriot representatives in the House of Representatives with respect to laws and decisions affecting the entire population. Turkish Cypriot representatives had exercised this veto power with respect to income tax legislation, seriously limiting government revenues.

In late 1963, after three years' experience of unsteady selfgovernment , Makarios declared that certain constitutional provisions "threatened to paralyze the State machinery." Revisions were necessary, he said, to remove obstacles that prevented Greek and Turkish Cypriots from "cooperating in the spirit of understanding and friendship." On November 30, 1963, Makarios proposed thirteen amendments to be considered immediately by the leaders of the Turkish Cypriot community.

These proposals, outlined in a presidential memorandum entitled "Suggested Measures for Facilitating the Smooth Functioning of the State and for the Removal of Certain Causes of Intercommunal Friction," reflected all the constitutional problems that had arisen. The president's action had far-reaching implications. Most important, it deeply eroded Turkish Cypriot confidence in the fragile power sharing arrangement. The proposals also automatically involved Greece, Turkey, and Britain, which as signatories to the Treaties of Guarantee and Alliance had pledged to guarantee the status quo under the constitution.

The proposed amendments would have eliminated most of the special rights of Turkish Cypriots. For instance, they would have abolished many of the provisions for separate communal institutions, substituting an integrated state with limited guarantees for the minority community. The administration of justice was to be unified. Instead of the separate municipalities that the constitution had originally called for in the five largest towns, municipalities were to be unified. The veto powers of the president and vice president were to be abandoned, as were the provisions for separate parliamentary majorities in certain areas of legislation. Turkish Cypriot representation in the civil service was to be proportionate to the size of the community. By way of compensation, the Turkish Cypriot vice president was to be given the right to deputize for the Greek Cypriot president in case of his absence, and the vice president of the House of Representatives was to be acting president of the body during the temporary absence or incapacity of the president.

Küçük reportedly had agreed to consider these proposals. The Turkish government, however, rejected the entire list. In any case, intercommunal fighting erupted in December 1963, and in March 1964 the UN Security Council authorized the establishment of an international peace-keeping force to control the violence and act as a buffer between the two communities.

Cyprus - 1964-74 Situation: Separate Communal Life

By the spring of 1964, the legislature was effectively a Greek Cypriot body. Turkish Cypriot representatives, like their counterparts in the civil service, feared for their safety in the Greek-dominated parts of Nicosia, and did not participate.

Turkish Cypriots have argued that what they considered their involuntary nonparticipation rendered any acts of that parliament unconstitutional. Greek Cypriots have maintained that the institutions continued to function under the constitution, despite Turkish Cypriot absence.

In 1964 the Greek Cypriot-controlled House of Representatives passed a number of important pieces of legislation, including laws providing for the establishment of an armed force, the National Guard, and for the restoration to the government of its rights to impose an income tax. Other laws altered the government structure and some of the bicommunal arrangements, including abolishing separate electoral rolls for Greek and Turkish Cypriots, abolishing the Greek Cypriot Communal Chamber, and amalgamating the Supreme Constitutional Court and the High Court of Justice into the Supreme Court.

Reaction of the Turkish Cypriot judiciary to this judicial change was apparently not unfavorable, since a Turkish Cypriot was named president of the Supreme Court. He assumed his post, and other Turkish Cypriot judges returned to the bench. For about two years, Turkish Cypriot judges participated in the revised court system, dealing with both Greek and Turkish Cypriots. In June 1966, however, the Turkish Cypriot judges withdrew from the system, claiming harassment. The Turkish Cypriot leadership directed its community not to use the courts of the republic, to which, however, they continued to be legally entitled, according to the Greek Cypriots. In turn, the judicial processes set up in the Turkish Cypriot community were considered by the Greek Cypriot government to be without legal foundation.

The establishment of a separate Turkish Cypriot administration evolved in late 1967, in the wake of renewed intercommunal hostilities. Turkish Cypriot leaders, on December 29, 1967, announced the formation of a "transitional administration" to oversee the affairs of the Turkish Cypriot community "until such time as provisions of the 1960 constitution have been fully implemented." The administration was to be headed by Küçük as president and Rauf Denktas (the former president of the Turkish Cypriot Communal Chamber, who had been living in exile in Turkey) as vice president.

The fifteen Turkish Cypriot former members of the republic's House of Representatives joined the members of the Turkish Cypriot Communal Chamber to constitute a Turkish Cypriot legislative assembly. Nine of the members were to function as an executive council to carry out ministerial duties. President Makarios declared the administration illegal and its actions devoid of any legal effect.

On February 25, 1968, Greek Cypriots reelected Makarios to office, in the first presidential election since 1960, by an overwhelming majority. Running against a single opponent campaigning for enosis, Makarios won about 96 percent of the votes cast.

Intercommunal talks for a solution to the constitutional crisis began on June 24, 1968, and reached a deadlock on September 20, 1971. Talks resumed in July 1972, in the presence of UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim and one constitutional adviser each from Greece and Turkey. Both sides realized that the basic articles of the constitution, intended to balance the rights and interests of both communities, had become moot and that new constitutional arrangements had to be found.

At the same time, extralegal political activities were proliferating, some based on preindependence clandestine movements. The emergence of these groups, namely, the National Organization of Cypriot Fighters (Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston B--EOKA B) and its Turkish Cypriot response, the Turkish Resistance Organization (Türk Mukavemet Teskilâti--TMT), were eroding the authority of conventional politicians. There were mounting calls for enosis from forces no longer supportive of Makarios, notably the National Guard, and there was a radical Turkish Cypriot reaction.

Cyprus - The 1974 Crisis and Division of the Island

Pressures mounting within the Cypriot communities and within the military junta ruling Greece converged in the summer of 1974. Greek military officials, angered by Makarios's independence from Greece and his policy of nonalignment, backed a coup d'état by Greek Cypriot National Guard officers intent on enosis. The coup imposed Nicos Sampson as provisional president.

The Turkish response was swift. On July 20, Turkish troops reached the island and established a beachhead in the north. A ceasefire was reached two days later, with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies of Greece and Turkey working urgently to avoid an intra-alliance confrontation. Peace talks were hastily convened in Geneva, but those talks did not satisfy Turkish concerns. On August 14, the Turks began a second offensive that resulted in their control of 37 percent of the island. The ceasefire lines achieved after the extension of Turkish control formed the basis for the buffer zone manned by the United Nations Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), which has been in place since 1964.

The events of 1974 dramatically altered the internal balance of power between the two Cypriot communities and coupled their prevailing political and institutional separation with stark physical and geographical separation. In a grim historical echo of the widely praised 1930 Greek-Turkish exchange-of-population agreements, roughly a third of each community, displaced by the war, was transferred to the side of the island that its community controlled. As a consequence, in 1990 nearly a third of the people of Cyprus lived outside their birthplaces or places of residence in 1974.

Institutionally, Turkish Cypriots simply consolidated what had been a separate administration run out of Turkish Cypriot enclaves across the island into the northern third, made secure by Turkish troops. That presence altered the political life of the Turkish Cypriots, however. Many decisions affecting the life of the community had a security dimension, and the economy of the small entity has been dependent on Turkish subsidies and trade. Thus, the extent of the real autonomy of Turkish Cypriot authorities from their mainland protectors and benefactors was the subject of continued speculation and uncertainty.


Clearly, the debate over government and politics on the island of Cyprus is more fundamental than in many other countries. The lack of consensus between the two major communities over how to govern and administer the island shapes daily life in each community and dominates the island's relations with the outside world. At issue is whether the island should have one government or two, whether the two communities in fact constitute two distinct political entities and "nations," and whether some form of cooperation and power sharing between the two communities is possible.

After 1974, the debate over these issues resumed, mainly in a formal process under the auspices of the UN secretary general. Political leaders in each community asserted that there was general agreement on how to proceed with the settlement negotiations, and that both sides had minimum requirements that had to be recognized. These mainstream positions fell along a continuum from a concept of federalism, in which major powers and functions would be retained at the federal level and residual powers at the level of the province or state, to something more like confederalism, with emphasis placed on maximum authority in the constituent states and more symbolic power for the overarching apparatus.

The interests of the two communities diverged over this range, with Greek Cypriots seeking to maximize prospects for functional reunification of the island and internal mobility of people and goods, and Turkish Cypriots arguing that separation of the communities and their authority best served their security interests. As a consequence, the two sides did not share the same sense of urgency about settlement. Greek Cypriots believed that time was not on their side, and that continued division of the island favored the separation preferred by Turkish Cypriots. Greek Cypriots thus felt a greater sense of urgency than Turkish Cypriots, who were more satisfied with the status quo.

At the same time, dissident voices, with little political significance, argued for options other than the federal solution, including returning to preindependence proposals such as enosis, possibly with certain rights provided to Turkey, or double enosis, in which the two parts of the divided island would become states or provinces of their respective motherlands.

As of 1990, the governments of the Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots and the world community had embraced the idea that settlement of the Cyprus question was possible through negotiations aiming to reestablish a single government, bizonal with respect to territory and bicommunal with respect to constitutional aspects. This process continued to dominate national life and political debate in both communities.

Cyprus - Milestones in the United Nations Settlement Process

In the immediate aftermath of the 1974 crisis, acting Greek Cypriot president Glafkos Clerides met with Rauf Denktas in September. These intercommunal talks were initially limited to humanitarian issues, such as the exchange of population between the two sides of the island. Later, at the urging of the United States, the two men, with Clerides the intercommunal negotiator in a restored Makarios government, resumed a substantive agenda and met in Vienna in January 1975. They both declared their support for the principle of an independent, nonaligned, and demilitarized Cyprus. Beyond these broad concepts, however, there were serious differences over the form of government, the size of the area to be retained by Turkish Cypriots, the return of refugees and compensation for property losses, and the timing of the withdrawal of Turkish troops.

By February 1976, the two sides, according to statements, had discussed territorial and constitutional issues and had agreed to exchange written proposals before May. Before the May meeting, however, difficulties arose within the Greek Cypriot camp. Clerides resigned as negotiator because of differences of view with Makarios and allegations that he was willing to accept a bizonal federation, an idea that Makarios opposed at the time.

Makarios appointed Tassos Papadopoulos, deputy president of the House of Representatives, to replace Clerides. Denktas, who declined to deal face to face with Papadopoulos because he had been an active member of the EOKA, appointed Ümit Süleyman Onan to serve as negotiator.

Cyprus - 1977 Makarios-Denktas Accords

After intensive efforts by Waldheim, Makarios and Denktas met on January 27, 1977, the first meeting between the two men since the Turkish Cypriots had withdrawn from the government of the republic in 1964. By then Makarios was leaning toward negotiation on the basis of a bizonal federation, provided that there be some Turkish Cypriot territorial concessions. He continued to insist on a strong central government and freedom of movement for all Cypriots. He demanded 80 percent of the territory, proportionate to the size of the Greek Cypriot population, but indicated that he might accept 75 percent if it included Varosha, the formerly prosperous tourist area of Famagusta to which 35,000 Greek Cypriots wanted to return. Denktas apparently indicated readiness to consider about 68 percent.

On February 12, 1977, the two men met and agreed on four guidelines. The first was that Cyprus would be an independent, nonaligned, bicommunal federal republic. Second, the territory under the administration of each community was to be discussed in light of economic viability, productivity, and property rights. Third, questions of principle such as freedom of movement and settlement, rights of ownership, and certain special matters were to be open for discussion, taking into consideration the fundamental decision for a bicommunal federal system and certain practical difficulties. Finally, the powers and functions of a central government would be such as to safeguard the unity of the country.

This achievement raised hopes among Cyprus's foreign friends that a settlement could be reached. These hopes were dashed when President Makarios, the central figure in the Greek Cypriot community, died of a heart attack in August 1977. Spyros Kyprianou, his successor, pledged to adhere to positions he believed Makarios would have taken.

Over time, it became clear that Kyprianou enjoyed less political room to maneuver than his predecessor, partly because of the growing political strength of the refugees and displaced persons. Kyprianou found in this group a ready-made constituency, and he embraced their advocacy of their right to return to homes and property and their call for a permeable border and unimpeded free movement and unrestricted settlement. This position sharpened differences with the Turkish Cypriot advocacy of a tightly controlled border and guarantees that the ethnic balance established by the de facto partition would remain undisturbed.

In April 1978, a new set of Turkish Cypriot proposals was made public, but was quickly rejected by the Greek Cypriot negotiator, Papadopoulos, who objected to both the proposals constitutional and territorial aspects. Kyprianou dismissed Papadopoulos in June over disagreements.

Later in 1978, external powers tried their hand at a Cyprus proposal. President Jimmy Carter had convinced a slim majority in the United States Congress to lift the arms embargo imposed against Turkey because of its intervention on Cyprus; Carter pledged to renew diplomatic efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem. The United States then worked with Britain and Canada to launch a new settlement plan. The twelve-point plan (often called the ABC plan because of its American, British, and Canadian sponsorship) proposed a biregional, independent federal republic. The state's constitutional structure would conform to the Makarios-Denkta guidelines of February 1977, as well as to pertinent clauses of the 1960 constitution. There would be two constituent regions. The federal government would be responsible for foreign affairs, defense, currency and central banking, trade, communications, federal finance, customs, immigration and emigration, and civil aviation. Residual functions would rest with the two regions. A bicameral legislature would be established, with the upper chamber evenly divided between the two communities, and the lower one divided on a population-ratio basis. The Council of Ministers would be jointly selected by the president and vice president, one of whom would be a Greek Cypriot and the other a Turkish Cypriot. On territorial issues, the plan envisioned significant Turkish Cypriot geographic concessions, although the size and locale of the two regions would take into account factors such as economic viability, security, population distribution, and history. The plan addressed the refugee issue, and called for essentially a demilitarized republic and withdrawal of all foreign forces except for an agreedupon contingent.

The Republic of Cyprus government objected to many points in the plan, largely because it preempted various positions of the two sides. The Greek Cypriot foreign minister said he would have preferred an agenda that did not go into so much detail. Other Greek Cypriot forces, including the church and some political parties, also opposed the plan. In the Greek community, only Glafkos Clerides urged its acceptance as a basis for talks. Turkish Cypriots also formally rejected the plan as an overall settlement package.

However, the ABC plan stimulated further efforts toward a settlement, and the UN Security Council acted quickly to resume intercommunal talks, on the basis of an agenda that combined the Makarios-Denktas guidelines with some aspects of the allied plan.

Two other effects of the American initiative should be noted. The plan was the last American-drafted proposal for Cyprus and convinced some in the Western policy community that even a fairminded effort had little chance of winning Cypriot acceptance. Second, it reinforced Cypriot anxiety about having solutions imposed from outside. By the early 1990s, many features of the initiative remained part of the UN-brokered negotiating effort, but Cypriots remained committed to writing their own plan.

Cyprus - 1979 Kyprianou-Denktas Communiqué

In early 1979, President Kyprianou was persuaded by his political advisers to resume talks with Denktas, and Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, then undersecretary general of the UN, called the two to a meeting in Nicosia in June. The two intercommunal negotiators, Minister to the President George Ioannides for the Greek Cypriots and Üit Süleyman Onan for the Turkish Cypriots, pursued talks aiming at a communiqué stating the broad agenda for further talks. This process stalled temporarily when Greek Cypriots sought to give the Varosha issue priority above all other issues. On May 18 and 19, the two leaders held a second summit that led to the successful conclusion of a ten-point agreement that called for a resumption of talks on all territorial and constitutional issues; placed priority on reaching agreement on the resettlement of Varosha; stated the parties' commitment to abstain from actions that could jeopardize the talks; and, envisaged the demilitarization of Cyprus. The agreement also repeated past statements about guarantees against union with any other country, partition, or secession. The ten points were largely a tactical means to secure further negotiations and did not resolve any substantive issues. One more meeting was held in June 1979, but the talks were then suspended until August 1980.

The UN-established common ground on which the talks resumed was a four-part agenda addressing, on a rotating basis, the resettlement of Varosha under UN auspices, initial practical measures to promote good will, constitutional issues, and territorial issues. The talks, conducted in Cyprus under the chairmanship of the UN secretary general's Special Representative on Cyprus, Ambassador Hugo Gobbi, continued without a major breakthrough and were temporarily suspended for the spring 1981 parliamentary elections on both sides of the island. In August and October 1981, the two sides made substantive presentations, which were welcomed as signs of commitment to compromise, but which also revealed the serious gap in the two sides' concepts of a solution.

The Turkish Cypriot proposal, submitted in August 1981, named four fundamental principles: a bicommunaand bizonal federal republic shall be established, but the two federated states will not form a unitary state; the Turkish Cypriot community will be regarded as an equal cofounder with the Greek Cypriot community and all government institutions will be staffed on a fifty-fifty ratio; the federal or central government will not be so strong as to imperil the independence of its component states; and the three freedoms of movement property, and settlement, will be restricted as set out by the 1977 guidelines. The proposal identified as "federal matters" six functions, including foreign affairs; foreign financial affairs; tourism and information; posts and telecommunications; federal health and veterinarian services; and, standards of weights and measures, patents, copyrights, and trademarks. The Turkish Cypriots also submitted two maps, one defining a proposed boundary line between the two federated states and one focused on Varosha in particular. The Turkish Cypriot proposal treated the federal concept narrowly, limiting federal authority.

The Greek Cypriots submitted their proposal on October 1, 1981. It contrasted sharply with the Turkish Cypriot proposal, with a heavy emphasis on the unity of the island and the powers of the federal republic. The plan's six principles included the indivisibility of the territory of the federal republic; the federal republic as sole subject of international law, to the exclusion of the provinces; and the use of the federal legislative and executive powers to ensure Cyprus's economic reintegration. The Turkish Cypriots considered this proposal merely an elaboration of a 1977 Greek Cypriot plan.

Despite the failure to make headway on the core political issues, this phase had one notable achievement: the agreement on terms of reference for a Committee on Missing Persons, consisting of representatives of the two communities and an international participant designated by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The committee's first meeting was held on July 14, 1981. The committed met sporadically throughout the 1980s, and new proposals to invigorate its work were discussed in early 1990. The work of the committee was hampered by sensitivity about exchanges of dossiers and information. Sensitivity areas included security matters and religious questions, such as whether graves should be disturbed.

By late 1981, UN officials and other supporters of the settlement process had concluded that the talks needed new stimulus. Secretary General Waldheim issued an evaluation of the negotiations in November, in what he called a "determined effort to lend structure and substance" to the negotiating process. The evaluation identified major points of "coincidence and equidistance" in the two sides' positions and proposed that the contemplated republic's executive authority be exercised by a federal council composed of six ministerial functions, corresponding roughly to the narrow Turkish Cypriot concept. Waldheim also suggested a bicameral legislature, provincial chambers, and a territorial compromise in which the Greek Cypriot side would administer at least 70 percent of the island.

The settlement process in the early 1980s was affected by the need for President Kyprianou to establish his credibility and demonstrate his loyalty to the national cause after the death of the charismatic Makarios. To many observers, it appeared that Kyprianou had less room for maneuver and was less inclined, by political preference or capability, to put forth new strategic positions. The election of a socialist government in Athens in October 1981 may also have affected the attitudes of the parties; Greek Cypriots welcomed Greek prime minister Andreas Papandreou's desire to "internationalize" the Cyprus problem, which effectively gave Greek Cypriots some breathing room in the intercommunal process. Meanwhile, the Turkish Cypriot leaders were developing new formulas and concepts of their own, and generally disapproved of efforts to internationalize the issue.

On November 15, 1983, after months of speculation, Rauf Denkta declared Turkish Cypriot statehood, on the basis of the universal right to self-determination. His proclamation, which cited the United States Declaration of Independence, declared the establishment of the "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" ("TRNC"). The move was not intended to block progress toward creating a federal republic, Denktas said. Rather, the assertion of the political identity and equality of the Turkish Cypriots would, in his view, enhance prospects for a new relationship between the two sides of the island. He also pledged that the new state would not join any other state, meaning Turkey.

The move was widely condemned by Western powers and the UN. The secretary general considered the declaration contrary to past Security Council resolutions and at odds with the high-level agreements of 1977 and 1979. The United States urged nonrecognition of the entity and joined a nearly unanimous Security Council resolution (541) which called for reversal of the declaration. (Jordan voted no; Pakistan abstained.)

Cyprus - 1984 Proximity Talks

The statehood declaration did not end the negotiation process. In August 1984 the two sides met UN Secretary General Pérez de Cuéllar in Vienna. They agreed to proximity talks, that its, talks in which the portier do not meet directly, but communicate through an intermediary. These talks began in New York in September. After three months, Pérez de Cuéllar determined that the differences between the two sides had narrowed enough to allow for a direct summit between the two leaders. That meeting took place in New York on January 17, 1985.

The 1985 summit was in some ways a watershed in Cypriot settlement efforts, because it altered, at least temporarily, external observers' perceptions of the sources of the stalemate, and because it represented the beginning of a phase of settlement efforts. But that phase would come to an end in early 1990.

Cyprus - 1985-86 Draft Framework Exercise

At the January 1985 summit, UN officials presented a draft framework agreement for the establishment of a bizonal, bicommunal federal republic. The parties, according to many accounts, had been briefed on its contents but not directly involved in its drafting. Denktas indicated his willingness to sign the draft, on the understanding that details would be worked out in separate talks. However, Kyprianou declined to sign, saying he considered the draft a basis for negotiations but that such a commitment was premature.

The collapse of the summit redounded to Turkish Cypriot favor, in the reactions of the news media and Cyprus's Western friends. By 1990, however, Turkish Cypriots referred to the 1985 summit as a regrettable Turkish Cypriot acquiescence to external pressure, from Turkey and the United States in particular.

The UN worked intensively with the two parties after the summit, on the assumption that a tactical misstep need not undermine the considerable achievement of drafting an outline reflecting broad areas of agreement. Yet UN efforts in the months that followed showed the near-impossibility of bridging the gaps; drafts proved acceptable to one side or the other, but never both. In April 1985, a draft framework agreement won acceptance by Greek Cypriots and was rejected by the Turkish Cypriot side. After extensive consultations a new draft was promulgated; it was embraced by the Turkish Cypriots and rejected by the Greek Cypriots.

Cyprus - 1988-90 Vassiliou-Denktas Meetings

The politics of the settlement process appeared to change significantly when Greek Cypriots elected George Vassiliou president in February 1988. Vassiliou, a successful businessman with no important political party base (although his parents were founding members of the island's communist party, the Progressive Party of the Working People (Anorthotikon Komma Ergazomenou Laou-- AKEL), campaigned on a pledge to solve the Cyprus problem with new vigor and creativity. His upset victory over Spyros Kyprianou seemed to indicate popular support for a new approach and for more rapid progress on a settlement. The UN and Cyprus's western partners welcomed Vassiliou's election and his statements about the settlement process.

The UN arranged for informal meetings between Vassiliou and Denktas at the Nicosia home of the UN special representative, Oscar Camillion. The first round of these meetings took place between August and November 1988. A second round occurred between December 1988 and April 1989, but the talks faltered when the two sides began submitting papers and drafts that began to dominate the discussions. These two rounds raised new concerns that the UN had lost control of the process, and that reaching agreement on a fixed agenda or schedule might prove difficult.

In May 1989, a more formal process began, after Secretary General Pérez de Cuéllar assigned his two aides, Camillion and Gustave Feissel, to meet separately and jointly with the parties to draft an outline, which could be based on an "ideas paper" that the UN circulated on a noncommittal basis to the parties. This third round was stalled for the second half of 1989, over procedural and substantive difficulties, with the Turkish Cypriots' objecting to the "ideas paper." The parties met in New York with the secretary general to discuss their progress in February and March 1990.

The secretary general reported that the gap between the two sides remained wide and that he was not convinced there was an agreed-upon basis on which to proceed. He turned to the Security Council for clarification of his good offices mission, and the clarification was passed unanimously in Resolution 649 on March 13.

The two sides separately indicated satisfaction with the UN resolution, Greek Cypriots emphasizing the active role proposed for the UN, including the right to make suggestions, and Turkish Cypriots pleased with the resolution's references to the separate status of the two communities and to bizonality as an enshrined principle in a prospective settlement.

This eighteen-month round of settlement efforts had begun hopefully. A period of creative tension and groping to create new understandings occurred in mid-1989, when Vassiliou and his advisers privately and informally offered important concessions to the Turkish Cypriot side. That is, none of the Greek Cypriot proposals or suggestions were binding or formally entrenched in official documents, but were offered discreetly as the basis for discussion. These concessions included a willingness to phase in the three freedoms, beginning with freedom of movement and holding freedom of settlement and property in abeyance. New thinking and flexibility on the territorial issue was displayed, with a range of options presented to the Turkish Cypriot side, such as a smaller but nearly exclusively Turkish Cypriot zone, rather than various larger but more demographically mixed zones. Greek Cypriots tried to link the size of the territorial swap with the degree of communal purity. They were more flexible than in the past on the issue of the presidency, offering alternatives such as rotating the position between the two communities or having joint elections with Turkish Cypriot votes weighted. Turkish Cypriots found themselves challenged by a more flexible interlocutor and reacted with caution, expressing new legal reservations about the proposals. At that point between October 1989 and February 1990, the Greek Cypriot side seemed to withdraw some of its new ideas, and the president found his freedom of maneuver limited by new domestic resistance to further concessions.

When the talks collapsed in early 1990, both sides appeared to be turning away from the UN process. The two governments seemed able to withstand domestic criticism of the talks; opposition complaints on both sides appeared to focus on tactics, and did not challenge the fundamental government positions. Both leaders appeared to be preparing to defend their positions to outside partners. Greek Cypriots mounted a renewed effort to win international support for their position, and for the need for international pressure on Turkey to win concessions from the Turkish Cypriots. For Turkish Cypriots, the end of the talks heralded a period of active domestic politics. A push for new diplomatic recognition of the "TRNC" was under consideration.


Political Institutions

In 1990 the Republic of Cyprus operated under the terms of the 1960 constitution as amended in 1964. It consisted of three independent branches: executive, legislative and judicial. The republic's president, George Vassiliou, was head of state and presided over a council of eleven ministers.

Presidential authority remained as outlined in the constitution. Cabinet portfolios included agriculture and natural resources, commerce and industry, communications and works, defense, education, finance, foreign affairs, health, interior, justice, labor and social insurance. Policy making was in the hands of administrative directors who were appointed civil servants with lifelong tenure. In an effort to make government more of a meritocracy, Vassiliou reassigned a number of ministerial directors to other positions, but encountered resistance from the parties when he tried to replace some of these directors.

The legislative body, the House of Representatives, consisted of fifty-six Greek Cypriot members, with twenty-four seats held for Turkish Cypriots, who had not recognized or participated in the republic's legislative life since the constitutional amendments of 1964. Originally a chamber of fifty, with thirty-five Greek Cypriots and fifteen Turkish Cypriots, the House of Representatives was enlarged in 1985.

The Republic's judicial branch largely followed the original structure outlined at independence. The 1964 amalgamation of the Supreme Constitutional Court and the High Court of Justice into the Supreme Court, combining the functions of the two former courts and eliminating the neutral judge, also led to the establishment of the Supreme Council of Judicature. Assigned the judicatory functions of the former high court, it was composed of the attorney general of the republic, the president and two judges of the Supreme Court, the senior president of a district court, a senior district judge, and a practicing advocate elected every six months by a general meeting of the Cyprus Bar Association.

As a result of the withdrawal of Turkish Cypriot public servants from the government, the Public Service Commission could not function as provided for in the constitution. Therefore, the Public Service Law of 1967 established a new commission to exercise the same functions. Its five members were appointed by the president. President Vassiliou's effort to replace the incumbents with members of his choice was thwarted when the parliament would not provide funding to complete the contracts of the replaced members.

At the district level, a district officer coordinated village and government activities and had the right to inspect local village councils. The mayors and councils for municipalities were appointed.

At the village level, there had been since Ottoman times councils, each composed of a village head (mukhtar) and elders (aza; pl., azades). Large villages that prior to 1974 had sizable mixed populations had separate councils, one for each community. Under the Ottoman empire, the village head and elders were elected by the villagers. In the British period and after independence, the village heads were appointed by the government and then chose the elders. New legislation in 1979 provided that village and town government officials should be elected rather than appointed, and elections for village councils and their presidents have occurred every five years beginning in 1979. The cycle for municipal elections was different: elections were held every five years, most recently in 1986. These election results generally followed the national pattern, in terms of the relative shares won by each of the parties. In some cases, however, parties were able to cooperate at the village level, while competing nationally.

Cyprus - Political Parties

In the early postindependence period, Greek Cypriot political party life was centered around a loose coalition of Makarios supporters called the Patriotic Front, plus the communist party, AKEL. The front dissolved in the late 1960s; its major factions broke into discrete parties. The House of Representatives afterwards maintained a fairly stable balance among four parties that ranged from a communist party to one that was right of center. Each of these parties generally received at least 9 percent of the vote, more than the 5 percent being the minimum required to win seats in the legislature.

Three of the four parties so divided the vote that none ever won a clear majority. The Republic of Cyprus has a modified proportional representation system. There were occasional proposals for a simple proportional system, and the electoral law has been modified five times in the 1980s.

As of 1990 the Democratic Rally (Dimokratikos Synagermos--DISY) was the largest parliamentary party. Created in 1976 and led by Glafkos Clerides, it evolved from the Unified Democratic Party (Eniaion), which was one of the factions that emerged from the Democratic Front in the 1970 parliamentary elections. DISY's platform focused on free enterprise economic policies and a practical solution to the intercommunal problem. It was the most explicitly pro-Western and pro-NATO of Cyprus's parties, and drew its support from middle-class professionals, businessmen, and white-collar employees. Its shares of parliamentary election votes were 24.1 percent in 1976 (but no seats because of the electoral law), 31.9 percent in 1981 (twelve seats) and, 33.6 percent in 1985 (nineteen seats).

The Democratic Party (Dimokratiko Komma--DIKO), formed in 1976, was seen as the closest to President Makarios and was headed by his successor, Spyros Kyprianou. The party platform in its first electoral campaign emphasized a nonaligned foreign policy and a long-term struggle over Turkish occupation in the north. Over the years, this party formed uneasy alliances with the two more leftist parties, the communists and socialists. The Democratic Party won twenty-one seats in 1976, eight seats in 1981 (19.5 percent), and sixteen seats in 1985 (27.7 percent). In June 1990, Kyprianou was reelected party leader.

The socialist party, the United Democratic Union of Cyprus (Enie Dimokratiki Enosis Kyprou--EDEK), generally called the Socialist Party--EDEK (Socialistiko Komma), was formed in 1969 by Makarios's personal physician, Vassos Lyssarides. The party advocated socialized medicine and nationalization of banks and foreign-owned mines. It was anti-NATO and pro-Arab, and favored a nonaligned foreign policy, although those positions seemed to have softened in the late 1980s. The party supported enosis with a democratic Greece, opposed continued British sovereignty rights on the island, but differed from the communists in keeping its distance from the Soviet Union. Its appeal was strongest among noncommunist leftists, intellectuals, and white-collar workers. Its electoral strength was the weakest of the four parties. In 1976 EDEK won four seats, three in 1981 (8.2 percent), and six in 1985 (11.1 percent).

The communist movement has been a major force on the island since the 1920s, often vying with the Church of Cyprus for the role of dominant political player. The first communist party was formed in 1924 in Limassol, was banned in 1931, and reappeared in 1941 with the creation of the Progressive Party of the Working People (Anorthotikon Komma Ergazomenou Laou--AKEL). Banned in the preindependence emergency from 1955 to 1959, AKEL has been in every parliament since 1960. AKEL won nine seats in 1976, twelve in 1981 (32.8 percent) and, fifteen in the enlarged chamber in 1985, which represented a drop to 27.4 percent.

Reflecting the serious crisis in the communist movement since the collapse of East European regimes in late 1989, AKEL held internal conferences in early 1990, but resisted reform proposals. As a consequence, AKEL dissidents formed a new leftist grouping called the Democratic Socialist Renewal Movement (Anorthotiko Dimokratiko Sosialistiko Kinima--ADISOK) in May 1990. The reformers included five members of parliament elected in 1985 as AKEL leaders. ADISOK selected House Deputy Pavlos Dhinglis as chairman and criticized AKEL for undemocratic behavior and an anachronistic mentality. It petitioned President Vassiliou for representation on the National Council, a forum in which all political groups met to discuss political issues.

The parties had held fairly constant positions on key policy issues since the second half of the 1970s. AKEL and DISY, while at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, were regarded as most flexible and forthcoming on settlement matters. EDEK and DIKO took a harder line, pushing for a more punitive approach to Turkey. On social and economic policy, the parties' ideological predilections prevailed: EDEK and AKEL advocated greater government support for workers and free public health services; DISY favored free enterprise. Some Cypriot analysts believe that DISY and DIKO have an overlapping constituency and could merge into a single centrist party if DIKO were to drop its far-right support, estimated at 5 percent of its strength.

Cyprus - Media

The press was another major player in Greek Cypriot politics. There were ten Greek-language and one English language daily papers for a population of 500,000. The television was government-owned. In 1989 President Vassiliou proposed a press law, aimed at setting guidelines and a professional code of ethics and at stimulating greater competition by allowing private radio stations (thus ending the monopoly of the Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation). An early version of a comprehensive press bill passed the parliament and in 1990 was under review for further revisions, to address criticisms that in its original form it set too many regulations. In mid-1990, parliament approved and the president signed legislation to make municipalities, companies, and individuals eligible to establish private radio stations. A new relationship with the Greek media, allowing Cypriot television to broadcast Greek programs, was established in 1990, although it was seen as threatening to the financially weak Cyprus Broadcast Corporation.

Cyprus - Political Dynamics

The politics of Cyprus have gradually evolved from the shadow of the dominant figure of Makarios, who embodied the struggle for independence from Britain and enosis with Greece. After independence was achieved without enosis, Makarios's own thinking changed, and Cypriot politics struggled with its internal ghost-- enosis. Makarios became persuaded that true national independence for Cyprus had advantages, and Greek political trends by the mid1960s convinced him that Cyprus had a destiny distinct from that of Greece. The Greek Cypriot population did not let go of the dream of enosis as quickly, and pro-enosis forces eventually turned on Makarios, leading to the 1974 coup.

While the drive for enosis subsided as a mobilizing force, the difficulties of creating a nation out of a bifurcated society took center stage. Makarios failed to draw the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities together, but, helped by his unusual position and special gifts, he created a consensus among Greek Cypriots. Although the authority of the Church of Cyprus diminished with the rise of new secular institutions, Makarios, as its head, Hellenism and, as elected president, had legitimate political authority. Coupled with these advantages were an extraordinary charisma and a mastery of diplomacy that his adversaries saw as deviousness and duplicity. By the time of the 1974 coup, however, it was clear that Makarios's total domination of Cypriot politics was coming to an end. From July to December 1974, Makarios was out of the country, and the government of the truncated republic was run competently by Glafkos Clerides. Makarios and Clerides then competed as heads of rival political groups, with the differences between them focused on the intercommunal process. Makarios reportedly welcomed this competition as a sign of growing Cypriot political maturity.

After Makarios's death in 1977, Kyprianou succeeded to the presidency, and Clerides continued as the principal opposition leader. The two men differed, among other things, over how to deal with the intercommunal talks.

Sharing the stage with Kyprianou were several other major figures, including Archbishop Chrysostomos, who had succeeded Makarios as head of the Church of Cyprus. Although the archbishop traveled the world meeting with overseas Greeks, Chrysostomos's personal political impact was judged by many to be far less significant than that of Makarios or that of the church as a whole.

Kyprianou was in many ways typical of the centrist, noncontroversial political figures who often follow charismatic leaders. He sought to preserve the Makarios legacy and pursue policies that would further Makarios's goals. But Kyprianou did policies that would further Makarios's goals. But Kyraianou did not have the tactical dexterity or diplomatic skill of Makarios, and he became associated with an approach to the settlement process that preserved the status quo, rather than displaying the openness and initiative that characterized Makarios at the end of his life. The Kyprianou presidency, by the late 1980s, was considered weak and passive, unable to break the stalemate in the settlement process and losing respect at home. At the same time, Kyprianou's less authoritative style did allow more competition in Greek Cypriot politics, permitting independents and other party leaders to contest presidential elections with greater prospects for success.

Cyprus - Political Culture in the Vassiliou Era

The election of George Vassiliou in February 1988 was unexpected. Although many Cypriots were increasingly disaffected because of the lack of progress in the intercommunal talks and the incumbent's reputation for passivity and ineffectiveness, the results were an upset. The first round, held on February 14, gave a plurality and 33.3 percent to Glafkos Clerides of DISY. Vassiliou, an independent, came in second, with 30.1 percent, and the incumbent, Spyros Kyprianou of DIKO, came in third with 27.3 percent. Kyprianou was defeated, according to Cypriot press opinion, because of inflexibility in the settlement talks and because of party maneuvering, including an unpopular tactical alliance with the communist party, AKEL.

The runoff between Clerides and Vassiliou was held on February 21, and Vassiliou won by a little over 10,000 votes. He polled 51.6 percent; Clerides, a veteran of Cypriot politics and acting president in 1974, polled 48.4 percent. Ironically, in the final contest the two men were in substantial agreement over the settlement issue; both expressed eagerness to engage in talks with Denktas, and neither made withdrawal of Turkish troops a precondition for talks. Some believe that Clerides narrowly missed victory because of his past associations with right-wing political groups.

Born in Famagusta in 1931, Vassiliou completed secondary school in Cyprus, and spent more than a decade studying and working in Europe. He received a doctorate in economics in Hungary. Upon his return to Cyprus in 1962, he founded and remained president of the Middle East Marketing Research Bureau, the largest consultancy in the region, with offices in eleven countries.

Vassiliou's campaign emphasized his wish to invigorate the settlement process. He offered to meet directly with both thenPrime Minister Turgut Özal of Turkey and his Turkish Cypriot counterpart, Denktas. Without a strong party base, Vassiliou also decided to resurrect the National Council, first created by Makarios, with the hope that the political parties meeting together could forge a collective and consensus-based policy toward the settlement process. Vassiliou proceeded to work out new rules with the party leaders, including guidelines on which issues required their unanimous consent. He pledged to put any settlement plan to the people in a referendum. But his seemingly liberal views on a settlement were tempered by his policy commitment to reorganize and reinforce civil defense and increase defense spending.

A number of factors brought Vassiliou to power. The electorate, to be sure, was frustrated by the impasse in the settlement process and welcomed someone who spoke of new ideas and energy. More broadly, the vote may have signaled the end of the Makarios era, and the desire for new leaders, rather than Makarios's heir apparent.

Vassiliou brought to the presidential palace skills learned in the private sector, such as prompt decision making, cost-benefit analysis, marketing, and open competition, that promised livelier and more effective policy making. Some Cypriots welcomed his attempt to bring corporate boardroom concepts into politics. Others resented it. In his first two years in office, Vassiliou was constrained by the island's experienced politicians, who had different agendas, and by Turkish Cypriot strategies that did not embrace the spirit of Vassiliou's settlement message.

The new president tried to introduce fresh faces into the executive branch. His first cabinet had only two ministers who had previously held office: George Iacovou continued to serve as foreign minister, ensuring continuity in external relations, and Christodoulos Veniamin took the post of interior minister, which he had held, along with other cabinet posts, between 1975 and 1985. In May 1990, President Vassiliou replaced four of his cabinet ministers and appointed several who had not served in previous cabinets. For the most part, the outside appointees were people who had the approval of one or more of the major parties.

Vassiliou had promised first and foremost to achieve progress in the talks with Turkish Cypriots, through intercommunal talks and negotiations with Turkey. However, in his first two years he made no breakthrough toward a settlement.

He achieved more in other areas. In the 1988 election campaign, Vassiliou spoke of his desire to make changes in the civil service, to end the spoils system that had created a large and inefficient public sector. He pledged moves toward a meritocracy, and promised to bring into government energetic, talented people from private sector. During his first two years in office, he was unable to replace the incumbent appointees to the Public Service Commission with his own candidates, because the parliament did not approve funds for it. Nor did another campaign promise, to create a government ombudsman as a clearinghouse for complaints, make headway in the first two years of his presidency. He was also unable to wrest from the political parties appointments to quasigovernmental posts such as utilities boards. He failed to pursue vigorously a campaign pledge to investigate charges of corruption in the police force.

Vassiliou's modest gains in these efforts were constrained by the parties' resistance to the businessman-president's ideas. The parliament failed to approve many of his requests for new positions, such as political appointments for ministerial special assistants and even experts to assist the president.

Vassiliou did manage to dilute the parties' power to some extent. Political patronage jobs, formerly the perquisites of the largest party, were shared among the major parties, reflecting Vassiliou's desire for a consensus-based political system. Vassiliou often chose for appointed positions associates whose skills he respected but who were also acceptable to one or more of the major parties. This power sharing with the parties, however, kept the new president from keeping his promise to reduce the size of the public sector.

Yet Vassiliou's intelligence, energy, and worldliness were valued by Cyprus's friends overseas. Vassiliou visited all major European capitals, traveled in the United States, and attended multilateral conferences to explain the Cyprus situation and enlist support for new settlement efforts. He was troubled that the dramatic and triumphant world events of 1989 and 1990 distracted world attention from the Cyprus problem, and he was concerned about the prospects for its neglect. His presidency, nevertheless, although it did not produce dramatic results, won respect and attention from a number of friendly governments.


Beginning with independence, Cypriots saw their problem on several levels. First and foremost, it was an intercommunal problem that required local, domestic political solutions. Next, and very close to this level, was the relationship of the island to its motherlands, Greece and Turkey; the two Cypriot communities struggled with the question of how much their foreign policies should be determined by the foreign policy interests and resources of the motherlands. At another level, many Cypriots considered their island a pawn in the superpower struggle, often exaggerating its strategic significance. Because the two motherlands, Greece and Turkey, were North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members, Cyprus was by definition a problem within the Western camp, a circumstance the Soviet Union and its allies, during the Cold War, occasionally sought to exploit. As a response to these constricting relationships, Cypriot foreign policy was nonaligned, and both communities found support among Third World countries for whom the Cyprus problem resonated with their own problems, be it the matter of a larger nearby state occupying territory of a smaller one, or the matter of a religious minority suffering discrimination at the hands of the majority.

Cyprus's relations with the outside world were shaped profoundly by the chronic dilemma of the island's political identity. The two communities conducted narrow foreign policies focused on this single issue. Yet the Republic of Cyprus conducted active and effective diplomatic efforts in many countries to win support for its position in UN settlement talks and in support of sympathetic resolutions in multilateral forums of which Cyprus was a member. The "TRNC" by the mid-1980s tried to break out of its isolation and began to conduct its own foreign policy, in some ways mirroring the efforts of its Greek Cypriot neighbors. Recognition as a state was the primary foreign policy objective of the regime in the north. Foreign policy in general was considerably more important for the republic; the "TRNC" was persuaded that its cause would benefit from "benign neglect" by the world community, allowing the two communities to develop normal relations without external pressure.

Cyprus - FOREIGN POLICY - The Republic of Cyprus

The founding documents of Cyprus's independence set some requirements for its foreign policy and linked the republic to three NATO members--Turkey, Greece, and Britain--through a Treaty of Alliance and a Treaty of Guarantee. These treaties, calling for the motherlands to garrison troops on the island and for the three NATO countries to guarantee and protect the independence of the republic, seemed to constrain or contradict the commitment to nonalignment enshrined in the constitution. Cypriots complained about these implied limits on their sovereignty, but in time developed foreign policies that were independent of the motherlands.

Cyprus - The Foreign Policy of Internationalization

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.

Cyprus - Relations with Greece

After the troubles of 1963-64 and the effective separation of the two communities, the Greek Cypriots controlling the republic's institutions did not, ironically, orient their foreign policy more toward Greece. Instead, the growing authority and confidence of President Makarios and divergent trends in Greek and Greek Cypriot politics led to the republic's foreign policy becoming more independent. Greek Cypriots were disappointed that Greece had placed the interests of the Western alliance above those of the island in the preindependence London and Zurich talks. Greek Cypriots also viewed as inadequate the Greek response to the 1963- 64 troubles, with Greece again deferring to NATO interests.

Relations deteriorated further when the military seized power in Athens in 1967. Makarios was anathema to the staunchly anticommunist regime in Greece. His flirtation with Eastern Europe and Third World nations, his refusal to stem criticism of the dictatorship, and his charismatic appeal to Greeks everywhere were major concerns of the new Greek leadership. The infiltration of Greek soldiers from the mainland, in excess of levels approved in the Treaty of Alliance, became a threat almost equal to that from the Turkish mainland. By the early 1970s the rift between the Athens junta and the Makarios government had become open. Athens allegedly financed operations of anti-Makarios organizations and newspapers and was widely thought responsible for attempts on Makarios's life. Pressures mounted, and in July 1974, after Makarios openly challenged the junta's interference, the Cypriot National Guard, led by Greek officers, staged a coup that ultimately resulted in Turkish intervention and the junta's demise.

With the 1974 restoration of civilian government in Athens and the environment of crisis in the Greek-controlled part of the island after the Turkish intervention, relations between the republic and the government in Greece were restored to normal, and closer coordination of foreign policy began, particularly focused on winning support for resolutions in international organizations and from Greeks abroad. Greece gave full public support to policies adopted by the republic and pledged not to interfere in domestic Cypriot politics. The two governments agreed that Greek Cypriot participation in settlement efforts was essential and tried to uncouple the Cyprus issue from other Greek-Turkish disputes, such as those about territorial rights in the Aegean Sea.

Differences remained over the two governments' priorities. Greek prime minister Konstantinos Karamanlis was said to favor a more moderate and conciliatory stand on Cyprus than either Makarios or Kyprianou, both of whom advocated a "long struggle" in the face of what they perceived as Turkish intransigence. The Greek government was also eager to return to NATO, which it did in 1981, and to reduce tensions with Turkey. In addition, the tripartite American-British-Canadian plan (the ABC plan) of 1978 won Greece's approval, although it was rejected by Greek Cypriots as a framework for negotiations.

When Greeks elected the socialist government of Andreas Papandreou to office in 1981, the foreign policy of Greece shifted. Less inclined to demonstrate Greece's loyalty to NATO and other Western institutions, Papandreou sought to "internationalize" the Cyprus settlement effort, and took a more confrontational approach to bilateral differences with Turkey. This led to a new, and sometimes uneasy, division of labor between Greece and the republic, with the latter engaged in intercommunal talks and the former raising the Turkish troop issue in NATO and other international forums. Cyprus was relinked to bilateral GreekTurkish problems, insofar as Papandreou insisted that relations between the two NATO allies could not improve until the Cyprus problem was solved and Turkish troops withdrawn. This policy was temporarily suspended in early 1988, when Papandreou and Turkish prime minister Özal conducted talks known as the Davos process, aimed at improving ties through Aegean confidence-building measures. The process was stalled in late 1988 by political and health problems of the Greek premier. For most of 1989 and early 1990, Greece was ruled by interim governments that took no new foreign policy initiatives, although the 1988 election of the activist George Vassiliou in Cyprus gave some new vigor and interest to the frequent consultations in Athens between the two governments.

In April 1990 Greeks returned to power the centrist New Democracy Party, and the new prime minister, veteran politician Constantinos Mitsotakis, pledged to renew Greece's efforts to solve the Cyprus problem. The two governments formed a joint committee, administered by their foreign ministries, to share information and coordinate policies, and thus avoid the strains that had arisen from divergent approaches to the Cyprus problem.

Cyprus - Relations with the United States and the Soviet Union

Cyprus had ambivalent relations with the superpowers during the Cold War. Despite its nonalignment, the cultural, political, and economic orientation of Cyprus was to the West, and NATO allies played crucial roles in the achievement of Cyprus's independence, the treaties guaranteeing that independence, and the composition of the UN peace-keeping force that was on the island continuously after 1964.

Relations with the United States after the 1974 crisis were shaped by Cypriot convictions that the United States had been too close to the Greek junta, could have prevented its coup against Makarios, supported or acquiesced in the Turkish intervention, and gave insufficient attention to solving the Cyprus problem. Relations between Cyprus and the United States were also haunted by the 1974 assassination of United States Ambassador Roger Davies in Nicosia. Yet, pressed by the United States Congress and the aroused Greek-American community, the Nixon and Ford administrations became involved in refugee resettlement and peace talks during the 1974 crisis and its aftermath.

As the Turkish intervention was consolidated, leading to a long-term division of the island, Greek Cypriots continued to have misgivings about the strategic intentions of United States policy. Cypriots occasionally pressed for new American initiatives, although none was offered after the 1978 ABC plan. A more activist American policy was institutionalized through the establishment in 1981 of a Special Cyprus Coordinator in the Department of State. The position was held by Reginald Bartholemew (1981-82), Christian Chapman (1982-83), Richard Haass (1983-85), James Wilkenson (1985- 89), and Nelson Ledsky after 1989. Yet efforts by these diplomats to stimulate discussion about confidence-building measures, intercommunal projects and cooperation, and new directions in the US$15 million annual aid program to Cyprus met resistance from the republic's government. The republic looked to the United States Congress and the Greek-American community to correct what they considered a pro-Turkish bias in United States policy.

Relations with the Soviet Union were more distant and reflected ups and downs in superpower influence in the Mediterranean and in United States-Turkish relations. The Soviets had supported the Greek Cypriot position after 1974 and generally pursued policies that fostered strains in intra-NATO relations. They worked with the island's communist party, but equally well with the centrist governments. In the late 1970s, the Soviets were cooler toward the Greek Cypriot view because of improved relations with Turkey. The Soviets under Mikhail Gorbachev became more interested in Cyprus settlement efforts. In 1986 the Soviets outlined their policy for a Cyprus settlement, calling for a withdrawal of all foreign troops and bases (presumably including the British sovereign base areas), a demilitarization of the island, and a new federal government. Greek Cypriots welcomed the proposal, although in subsequent months it was interpreted by many as part of a broad Third World-Soviet public relations exercise more than a serious diplomatic initiative to which resources would be devoted.

Cyprus - Relations with the Europe

As Europe moved to create a single market by the end of 1992, the European Community (EC) became an increasingly important focus of Cypriot foreign policy. Cyprus became an associate member of the EC in June 1973, motivated largely by a desire to maintain its major trading partnership with Britain. But relations with <"http://worldfacts.us/Belgium-Brussels.htm"> Brussels were troubled by the uncertainty of the political situation on the island and the EC's preference for avoiding entanglement in political disputes. EC policy throughout the years of the division of the island was to deal with the republic government as the legal authority, but at the same time to state that the benefits of association must extend to the entire island and its population. Cypriot efforts to link EC aid to Turkey to progress on a Cyprus settlement were unsuccessful, although the European Parliament passed several supportive but largely symbolic resolutions on Cyprus in the 1980s.

After the 1988 election of George Vassiliou, in an era of revitalized European consciousness, Cyprus's attention to the EC increased dramatically, and its foreign policy became more ECoriented and focused less on the Third World and the NAM. On July 4, 1990, the republic formally applied for full EC membership. In a public statement, President Vassiliou said that Cyprus had "declared its European orientation and its desire to participate as actively as possible and on an equal footing with the other EC member states in the historic process of European integration and the building of a Common European House of peace, cooperation and prosperity."

It was clear that the membership bid, which was not expected to culminate in actual accession until the next century, was strongly driven by the settlement process. The application could be seen as a tactical move intended to give new momentum and new incentives to the Turkish side to achieve progress in talks. For Vassiliou, the EC application and its expected decade-long waiting period was an opportunity. He hoped that the EC accession timetable would parallel a negotiation timetable, so that a new federal government and full membership in the EC could be achieved at the same time. He argued that the benefits of EC membership would be conferred on "all Cypriots without exception." Should settlement talks fail, the EC application would serve a second purpose, giving Cyprus a framework for discussing the lack of progress with its EC trading partners.

It was estimated by the early 1990s that 85 percent of Greek Cypriots favored full EC membership, with AKEL the notable exception. The Greek Cypriot parliament pressured Vassiliou in the spring of 1990 to move more quickly on the EC issue. Some Cypriots, including DISY leader Clerides and some Vassiliou supporters, floated the proposal to have Turkish Cypriots participate in future negotiations with Brussels, although such proposals, without more formal recognition of Turkish Cypriot separate political rights, appeared doomed to failure.

Cyprus - Other Foreign Policy Concerns

The Republic of Cyprus also participated in foreign policy debates on issues of broader interest to Cyprus as a small, nonaligned country. When approached by its Western friends, including the United States, Cyprus proved a reliable and effective partner in issues of common concern, such as antiterrorism measures and control of illegal narcotics, and it became increasingly interested in environmental causes, particularly in the Mediterranean region.

Cyprus was also compelled because of proximity to address the Arab-Israeli issue and the Lebanon crisis that plagued the nearby Middle East throughout the 1980s. The island was occasionally touched by the violence of these disputes, when Israeli and Palestinian commandos carried out missions against each other in Cypriot coastal towns, and even in Nicosia. For the most part, Cyprus remained neutral, allowing the island to be the meeting place for informal diplomatic encounters between Arabs and Israelis. Cyprus had active trade and cultural relations with Israel, and a fully accredited Israeli Embassy functioned in Nicosia. At the same time, Cyprus supported moderate Palestinian positions in international forums and sought more active Arab support of its position, appealing to Arab sentiment over what it saw as analogous situations in the respective Israeli and Turkish occupations of their territories.

Cyprus - The "TRNC"

Turkish Cypriots began developing a rudimentary foreign policy after 1963, focused mainly on public relations efforts to explain the communal perspective on the island's political difficulties. Two factors constrained the development of a Turkish Cypriot foreign policy. First, Turkish Cypriots lacked the personnel and resources to project themselves on the world scene. Second, Turkish Cypriot administrations, in their various forms since 1963, lacked international recognition and were dependent on Turkey's acting as an intermediary to international opinion. The situation changed gradually after 1985, although Turkish Cypriot activism in foreign policy focused on expanding trade and political contact, rather than on the settlement process. The view of the Turkish Cypriot government was that less, not more, international attention would help a Cyprus settlement.

Relations with Turkey

As was the case with Greek Cypriots and their mainland, relations between the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey could be characterized as close and cooperative, although many observers detected strains barely beneath the surface. Turkey usually supported Turkish Cypriot policies in their broadest sense, although tactical differences often occurred. On several key occasions in the UN settlement process, Ankara pressed the Turkish Cypriot government to be more forthcoming. From 1975 until the declaration of the "TRNC" in 1983, for example, it was reported on numerous occasions that Turkey had persuaded Denktas to delay his unilateral declaration of independence.

The main institutional vehicle for Turkish-Turkish Cypriot cooperation was the Coordination Committee (Koordinasyon Komitesi) formed in the 1960s to administer the extensive economic relationship between the two. The participants in these coordination activities, which became more ad hoc as Turkish Cypriot bureaucratic competence grew, were representatives of the prime minister's office in Turkey and a collection of key decision makers from the Turkish Cypriot executive branch. From 1974 to 1983 coordination was close, including Turkish participation in Turkish Cypriot cabinet meetings. After the establishment of the "TRNC," such contact was replaced with more formal state-to-state relations. Turkey demonstrated in various ways its recognition of the separateness of the Turkish Cypriot political entity, although opposition parties and many observers believed that the Turkish Embassy in the north was engaged in activities beyond the normal purview of a foreign mission.

The economic dimension of bilateral relations also showed its strains. After 1974, the Turkish contribution to the Turkish Cypriot budget was estimated at 80 percent, but by 1990 that subsidy was reported to be in the 30 to 40 percent range. The opposition press in Turkey occasionally complained that aid and assistance to northern Cyprus was an economic burden on Turkey, whose economic performance was uneven in the 1980s. For their part, Turkish Cypriots complained of inadequate aid, the failure as of late 1990 to establish a customs union, and the importation of Turkey's economic problems, most notably rampant inflation in the late 1970s and again in the late 1980s. Relations were also strained by social differences between mainland settlers and the higher levels of education and more urban and secular lifestyles of most Turkish Cypriots.

The Quest for Recognition

Most Turkish Cypriot foreign policy efforts were focused on achieving recognition of the "TRNC" and explaining the Turkish Cypriot position on the settlement process. The "TRNC" had one Embassy, in Ankara, two consulates, in Istanbul and Mersin, and five representation missions, in London, Washington, New York, Brussels, and Islamabad. These missions did not have diplomatic status. In 1990 there were reports that additional missions might be opened in Abu Dhabi, Canada, Australia, Italy, and Germany.

The Islamic nations were the key target of Turkish Cypriot recognition efforts. In wooing Islamic support, Turkish Cypriot officials emphasized the religious aspect of the Cyprus conflict and stressed the importance of Muslim solidarity. Meetings of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), in which Turkey played an increasingly active role in the 1980s, were an important focus for the "TRNC." The OIC passed several resolutions urging economic support and cultural contact with the Turkish Cypriots, but stopped short of embracing the recognition issue. Many Arab Islamic countries had ambivalent relations with Turkey, because of the legacy of the Ottoman Empire, and also because they wished to maintain good relations with the Republic of Cyprus, which served as a financial center and entrepôt for Middle Eastern business activity. These reservations inhibited the "TRNC" in seeking to achieve its goals in the Islamic world. Among these countries, Pakistan, Jordan, and Bangladesh were considered the strongest supporters of the Turkish Cypriot cause.

CITATION: Federal Research Division of the
Library of Congress. The Country Studies Series. Published 1988-1999.

Please note: This text comes from the Country Studies Program, formerly the Army Area Handbook Program. The Country Studies Series presents a description and analysis of the historical setting and the social, economic, political, and national security systems and institutions of countries throughout the world.

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