The Cypriot army is limited in number and coincides with the Cypriot National Guard Corps, which numbers 12,000. A contingent of the Greek army (Eldyk, Ellenic Force in Cyprus) is permanently stationed on the island to support the activities of the National Guard. In the area under Turkish sovereignty there is instead a garrison of the Turkish army, with an estimated number of 43,000. The UK has two sovereign military bases in the territories of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in the south of the island. For Cyprus defense and foreign policy, please check

An international mission of the United Nations (Unificyp) is also serving on the island, with about 920 personnel. Since August 2014 she has been led by Major General Kristin Lund, Norwegian, the first woman ever to take the lead of a peacekeeping operation of the United Nations. The mission originated in 1964, when international forces intervened to quell the clashes between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities. In 1974, following the Greek Cypriot coup and the consequent Turkish invasion, UN troops settled along the ‘green line’ that divides the island in two, creating a demilitarized buffer zone. Although not a member of NATO (President Makarios III had chosen the Non-Aligned Movement) and not participating in the cooperation mechanisms between the Alliance and external partners, Cyprus actively collaborates with the United States in the fight against international terrorism on the basis of a mutual assistance treaty signed in September 2002.

The joint exploitation projects of gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean of Cyprus and Israel have developed a growing understanding between the two countries, which has also extended to the defense sector. In January 2012, the governments of Nicosia and Tel Aviv signed an agreement on intelligence and military cooperation.

Chronology of the Cypriot question

1960 – The Republic of Cyprus gains independence from the United Kingdom. Archbishop Makarios III is elected president.

1964 – Following intercommunal clashes, the United Nations launches a peacekeeping operation in Cyprus.

1974 – Makarios is ousted from the right wing of the Cypriot National Guard with the support of the military junta in power in Greece. Appealing to the Guarantee Treaty, the Turkish army intervenes and occupies about a third of the island. After the coup d’état failed, Makarios resumed the office of president which he held until his death in 1977.

1975 – The Northern Turks proclaim themselves the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus and choose Rauf Denktaş as president, who agrees with the Greek-Cypriot counterpart for the forced exodus of the two populations.

1983 – Northern Turks proclaim independence: the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (Kktc) is born. Denktaş suspends the talks started in 1980 with the mediation of the United Nations.

1988 – George Vasiliou is elected president of the Republic of Cyprus. Negotiations resume and stalled twice, in 1989 and 1992.

1990 – The Republic of Cyprus applies for EU membership, despite Turkish Cypriot opposition.

1993 – Glafkos Clerides succeeds Vasiliou as the presidency of Cyprus.

1996 – For the first time since 1974, violent clashes between Greeks and Turkish Cypriots result in the death of two demonstrators.

1997 – The Republic of Cyprus announces the purchase of missiles with a useful range to hit the coasts of Turkey, which threatens a ‘pre-emptive strike’.

2002 – After the failure of the 1997 talks, Denktaş and Clerides resume negotiations under the aegis of the United Nations and the mediation of Secretary General Kofi Annan, who proposes a plan for the creation of a federation composed of two constituent states by 2003.

2003 – Tassos Papadopoulos defeats Clerides in the presidential election. Restrictions on the free movement of people across the ‘green line’ are eased. Exchanges between the two communities on the island resume.

2004 – A double referendum is called to approve the reunification plan put forward by the United Nations, the so-called ‘Annan Plan’. The Turkish Cypriots approve, the Greek Cypriots do not. The Republic of Cyprus enters the EU without the Kktc.

2005 – Mehmet Ali Talat is elected president in the Kktc, in favor of a compromise with the Greek Cypriots.

2008 – Cyprus adopts the euro. Demetris Christofias is elected president of the Republic of Cyprus and gives new impetus to the negotiations. In the center of Nicosia, the capital, a passage is opened in the wall dividing the city.

2010 – Negotiations resume between Christofias and Talat, which however is weakened by the parliamentary victory of the nationalist opposition. In April, the nationalist Derviş Eroğlu succeeds Talat.

2011 – The Democratic Rally party, Disy, founded by Clerides in 1976, wins by measure in the legislative elections in May.

2012 – In May the last round of negotiations between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots comes to a head, mediated by the general secretary of Un Ban Ki-moon.

2013 – In February, the newly elected President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades hopes to restart negotiations with the Turkish Cypriots. A new round of negotiations opens in October, with the mediation of the special adviser of the Un Alexander Downer. However, the agreement is still far away.

Cypriot army

Cyprus Defense and Security
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