Cyprus Turkey


Cyprus: The long decline of international law

EuropeNews July 20 2011
By Henrik R. Clausen

Today, July 20th 2011, marks the 37th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. While such acts by the invading countries are generally held to be illegal (and rightly so), Turkey has gotten away with the invasion and the ensuing occupation with remarkably few consequences. This is in great extent due to the non-application of international law and fundamental principles in the matter. Conversely, a just and lasting solution to the Cyprus problem can be found in classical international law. This is not all that hard to understand.


Cyprus has a traceable archaeological history dating back more than 10,000 years, and while having been under a variety of rules over the last millennia, was never divided until the 20th century.

The St. Nicholas’ Cathedral in Famagusta

The Ottomans invaded Cyprus in 1570, finally beat the Venetian stronghold of Famagusta in 1571, and ruled over Cyprus for over three centuries. This took place in a relatively civilized manner as compared to the Ottoman rule in the Balkans and elsewhere, but they did introduce a Turkish minority later to be the seed of trouble.

In 1878, Cyprus was leased to Great Britain in return for Britain helping the Ottoman Empire hold back Russian influence. In the 1923 Lausanne Treaty, which established the modern Republic of Turkey, all Turkish interests in Cyprus were written off, a fact that Turkey faithfully upheld until 1954. In 1925, Cyprus became a British crown colony, one of the last additions to the British Empire.

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