Located geographically in Asia, Cyprus is the most Eastern territory of the European Union (in 2004, the Republic of Cyprus, Southern part of the island, mainly populated by orthodox “greeks”, joined the EU).
Since 1974, the Northern part of the island is occupied by the Turkish army. The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is only recognized by Istanbul. The North and the South are divided by the United Nations Buffer Zone, a demilitarized area with a few crossing points. The line cuts the old town of Nicosia, the capital, into two parts just like the Berlin wall.
Historically, Cyprus has passed from one power to another : Ancient Greece, Roman Empire, Byzantium, Islamic Califate, the Franks, Venice, Ottoman empire and eventually Great Britain. The UK still has full ownership and sovereignty on two parts of the island, Akrotiri et Dhekelia, were troops are positioned.
The Greek part of the island (EU member state) developed thanks to tourism (mainly from Great Britain and Russia) and financial services. It was hit sharply by the debt crisis following Greece in 2012. The “Cyprus case” was one of the blocking points for Turkey to join the EU. The question remains unsolved. In recent years, huge gas reservoirs were discovered in the Eastern Mediterranean sea (Cyprus, Lebanon, Israel). A real economic opportunity for Cyprus and new concerns for the regional geopolitics.
© Christophe Chabert