Cyprus History

Updated September 9, 2022 | Infoplease Staff
Strife Continues Between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots


The continued strife between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots threatened Cyprus's potential EU membership—it had met all the economic standards—and provided a great incentive to both sides to resolve their differences. UN-sponsored talks between the Greek and Turkish leaders, Kleridas and Denktash, continued intensively in 2002, but without resolution. In Dec. 2002, the EU invited Cyprus to join in 2004, provided the UN plan was accepted by February 2003. Without reunification, only Greek Cyprus was to be welcomed into the EU. But just weeks before the UN deadline, President Kleridas was defeated by right-wing candidate Tassos Papadopoulos, a hard-liner on reunification. The UN deadline passed, and the UN declared that the talks had failed. In April 2004, dual referendums were held, with the Greek side overwhelmingly rejecting the most recent UN reunification plan, and the Turkish side voting in favor. In May, Greek Cyprus alone became a part of the EU.

In April 2005, Turkish Cyprus elected pro-reunification leader Mehmet Ali Talat as their president, ousting longtime leader Rauf Denktash, who staunchly opposed reunification. In July 2006, the UN sponsored talks between President Papadopolous and Talat.

In the second round of presidential elections in February 2008, Community Party leader Dimitris Christofias won 53.4% of the vote, defeating right-wing candidate Ioannis Kasoulidis, who took 46.6%. Christofias, who is Cyprus's first Commnunist president, vowed to work toward reunification and said he would meet with the Turkish Cypriot president, Talat. Papadopoulos was eliminated in the first round of voting.

On March 21, 2008, President Christofias started talks of reunification with Turkish Cypriot president, Talat, as promised. Talks continued through 2009, though little progress was achieved.

On April 4, 2008, Ledra Street Crossing was torn down—an important symbolic step towards reunification. The checkpoint divided Greek and Turkish Cypriots in the capital city of Nicosia for decades.

In presidential elections in North Cyprus in April 2010, Dervis Eroglu, the leader of the pro-independence National Unity Party won 50.4% of the vote, defeating incumbent Mehmet Ali Talat, who is pro-unity.