The island of Cyprus is located in the eastern Mediterranean Sea just 50km south of the coastline of Turkey and 95km west of Syria.

The former British colony gained independence in 1960. Shortly afterward, violent conflicts broke out between Greek and Turkish groups inhabiting the island. When Greece supported a coup d’état in an attempt to bring Cyprus under its control, Turkey intervened militarily in 1974.

Today the island is still divided. The southern part makes up the Republic of Cyprus and is dominated by Greeks. The north, now called the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) internationally, is accepted as a separate entity only by Turkey.

Of about 1.2 million Cypriots, some 300,000 live in the northern part of the island. It is considered to be poorer than the south and, by and large, depends on aid from Turkey.

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In 2004, the whole of Cyprus formally became a member of the European Union (EU). However, the body of common EU law applies only to the southern part. In 2014, leaders of the two main ethnic groups agreed to initiate negotiations on a shared future for Cyprus.

The discussions were scheduled to begin on Oct 8, 2014. However, on Oct 4, Turkey announced that an exploration vessel would conduct seismic investigations in waters off the island´s Exclusive Economic Zone, which belongs to the Republic of Cyprus.

This action occurred against the backdrop of disagreement over the use of oil and gas reserves in this part of the Mediterranean. As a consequence, Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades called off the negotiations. Since then no formal talks have been held.


 

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