The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), in Turkish Kuzey Kıbrıs Türk Cumhuriyeti (KKTC), controls the northern third of the island of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey is the only country which recognises the TRNC; all other governments and the United Nations recognise the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus over the whole island of Cyprus. The Organization of the Islamic Conference recognises the TRNC as a constituent state, under the name Turkish Cypriot State.
The TRNC has a population of about 190,000 and an area of 3,355 square kilometres. The Northern Cypriot population is almost entirely Turkish (both Turkish Cypriots and mainland Turks) with small remnant populations of Greeks and Maronites. The TRNC includes the northern part of the city of Nicosia (Turkish: Lefkoşa, Greek: Lefkosia), which serves as its capital.
The state of northern Cyprus was proclaimed in 1975 under the name "Turkish Federated State of Northern Cyprus". The name was changed to its present form on 15 November 1983. The Republic of Cyprus has refused to recognise the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus, the 1975 declaration of the Federative State, or the 1983 declaration of independence in any way, and this refusal has been supported by all countries except Turkey. In retaliation, the TRNC refers to the Republic of Cyprus as the "Greek Cypriot Administration of Southern Cyprus".
The 1983 declaration of independence was condemned by the United Nations Security Council's Resolutions 541 and 550, which declared it legally invalid, called for Turkey's immediate withdrawal of armed occupying forces and urged all member states not to recognise it. Despite this, the TRNC maintains informal relations with some Middle Eastern countries, such as Lebanon.
The Nakhchivan Autononomous Republic (which is an exclave of the Republic of Azerbaijan), recognises the TRNC as a sovereign state but as Nakhchivan's status is not that of an independent state, this is not regarded as official diplomatic recognition. Azerbaijan itself, however, maintains cordial informal relations with TRNC.
The TRNC is a democracy, with a president elected for a five-year term. The TRNC's legislature is the House of Representatives (Temsilciler Meclisi), which has 50 members elected by proportional representation from five electoral districts. In the elections of February 2005 the Republican Turkish Party, which favours a peace settlement and the reunification of Cyprus, retained its position as the largest parliamentary party, but failed to win an overall majority.
The TRNC is heavily dependent on Turkish military and economic support. It uses the New Turkish Lira as its currency. All TRNC exports and imports are via Turkey, as are its communication links. International telephone calls are routed via a Turkish dialling code, +90 392, on the Internet TRNC is under the Turkish second-level domain .nc.tr, and mail must be addressed to Mersin 10, TURKEY as the Universal Postal Union refuses to recognise the TRNC as a separate entity.
Flying to the TRNC is somewhat problematic, since the airports of Geçitkale (Greek: Lefkoniko) and Ercan (Greek: Tymbou) are not internationally recognized as legal ports of entry, so all flights to the TRNC must currently land in Turkey first. Anyone who has a TRNC immigration stamp may be refused entry by the Republic of Cyprus or Greece, although after the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU such restrictions have been eased following confidence-building measures by the Cypriot government. The Republic of Cyprus allows unrestricted passage across the Green Line from Nicosia into the TRNC, since the TRNC does not require a visa or leave entry stamps for such visits.
The flag of the TRNC on the Beşparmak Mountains (Pentadaktylos Mountains in Greek
There are still outstanding legal proceedings relating to the 1974 Turkish invasion, which ousted more than 200,000 Greek-Cypriots from their homes. The precedent case of Loizidou vs Turkey was rightly judged in favor of Loizidou, a Greek Cypriot, and ruled that Turkey should pay her compensation. More specifically, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Loizidou is entitled to a sizeable compensation for loss of use of her property, while she retains all rights of ownership of it. It is understood by both sides that no solution to the Cyprus problem can be achieved without a significant tranfer of property back to pre-invasion owners, Greek-Cypriots or Turkish-Cypriots, an issue that further complicates any potential solution. While there has been a flourishing construction market in the Turkish-occupied area recently, there is great risk in the purchase of property there, as the ownership of the property might come into question following an agreement to reunite the island because most of the land in the north belongs to Greek Cypriots. See the Cyprus dispute.
During 2002 and 2003 the approach of the Republic of Cyprus's accession to the European Union (on May 1, 2004) produced a political crisis in the TRNC, because its residents realised that they would not have access to the privileges of EU membership, particularly the right to work anywhere in the EU, which would be open to Cypriot citizens. In 2002 there were large demonstrations in the TRNC against the continuation of the division of Cyprus. During 2003, pro-EU parties campaigned vigorously against the government of Rauf Denktaş, standing for election on a platform of replacing him as the republic's chief negotiator and pushing for a settlement that could take the north into the EU as part of a reunited Cyprus. In January 2004, pro-EU leader Mehmet Ali Talat was appointed Prime Minister.
On April 24, 2004 a referendum was held in both parts of Cyprus on the Annan Plan for re-uniting the island before its entry to the EU. Turkish Cypriot voters approved the plan, while Greek Cypriot voters, on the advice of their government, rejected it. (see Cyprus reunification referendum, 2004).
The EU expressed disappointment at the outcome. Turkish Cypriots, having long been blamed for obstructing the reunification of Cyprus, were praised for supporting the Annan Plan, while Greek Cypriots were criticised for rejecting it. As a result, the EU indicated that it would reward the Turkish Cypriots by relaxing the EU's embargo on the TRNC.
Günter Verheugen, the EU's Enlargement Commissioner, was reported as saying that the EU was considering opening a representative office in the TRNC. EU foreign ministers agreed to give the TRNC 259 million euros (US$307 million) in aid. Verheugen also said that the Greek Cypriot government should not expect a reduction in the number of Turkish troops stationed in Cyprus due to the failure of the Annan plan. Instead Turkey might increase their number beyond the current 30,000, he said.
Rauf Denktaş announced in mid-May 2004 that he would be stepping down as President of the TRNC at the end of his fourth term. He said Talat and Foreign Minister Serdar Denktaş were both suitable candidates to replace him. Elections for the post took place on April 17, 2005, which were won by Talat.
In June 2004 a meeting of Foreign Ministers of member states of the Organization of Islamic Conference decided that the TRNC would be represented at future OIC meetings under the name of "Turkish Cypriot State", as was envisaged in the Annan plan. The European Commission announced a plan on July 7, 2004, that all goods produced in TRNC could be exported freely to European market.
In December 2004 Turkey and the EU met to discuss Turkey's application into the European Union. They struck a deal over an EU demand that Turkey had to re-sign the 1963 Ankara Association Agreement to cover all of the new EU members, which includes Cyprus, before membership talks begin. The deal clears the way for Turkey to start entry talks around October 3 2005.
Also in December, Mehmet Ali Talat's fragile coalition finally collapsed. After opposition leader Dervis Eroglu 's efforts to form a new government produced no results, Denktaş called early elections for February 20, 2005. Talat's party strengthened its position at the vote, falling just short of a majority.
In the presidential elections of April 17, 2005, Talat was elected the second president of the TRNC with an absolute majority of 56% of the popular vote. His nearest rival (Dervis Ergolu ) got 23% of the vote. The eligible voter turnout was 70%. Talat issued an "olive branch" to the Greek cypriots in his first speech after the election, pledging to work towards reunification of the island while securing the rights and well-being of the Turkish Cypriot population.
Last updated: 10-24-2005 04:34:15