40 Years of a Divided Cyprus

2014 is witness to the tenth anniversary of Cyprus joining the EU. Still, ten years after this event, Nicosia is still the last militarily divided capital of the world. When Turkey intervened, following a coup d’état supported by the Greek military junta, by sending troops to the northern part of the island on 20 July 1974 and which later occupied a third of the island, international observers and the population assumed this to be a temporary situation. As Turkish troops closed in on Varosha, the most important Cypriot tourist destination of the 1960s and 1970s, the Greek-Cypriot population took with them only their most indispensable belongings. More often than not, provisional arrangements became the status quo: the so-called ‘Green Line’, a military buffer-zone, which runs from West to East across the whole island. Today, Varosha is probably one of the most (in)famous ghost town in Europe and still a restricted Turkish military zone. Following a number of unsuccessful attempts at solving the conflict – inter alia the so-called ‘Annan-Plan’, which failed at a referendum in 2004 – recent talks and a joint communiqué by both sides early 2014 bring new hope.

Against this background, the conference ‘1974-2014 – 40 Years of a Divided Cyprus’ faces the historical and political, as well as the legal and diplomatic aspects of separation and military occupation. In light of recent events such as the renewal of peace-talks in the Middle East by the US, the civil war in Syria, or the situation in the Ukraine and the Crimea, the topic as well as possible approaches to a solution appear more relevant and topical than ever. The history as well as the allocation of an EU Member State that is partially occupied by a NATO state, represents an early warning model in light of recent shifts in political and geo-strategical interests. How much weight do the political, legal, and historical aspects have? How may Southeastern Europe and the Mediterranean be placed between ethno-centrism and globalised interconnection? Which geo-strategic and national political interests are brought forward by involved states, alliances, and international organisations and how is the situation in Cyprus instrumentalised therefor? What is the role of bi-, tri-, or multilateral attempts at solving the conflict? And what is the divergence in these assessments between theory and practice, or are there coherences?

These highly relevant topics – for Cyprus, Turkey, the EU, but also for Austria and Vienna with its manifold economic interests and political role as a provider of good offices as far back as the 1960s – will be addressed from various perspectives. The projection of the concepts, the implications for other crises and conflict, and the interrelation of ethnic and transnational interests provide the basis for a discussion that can only take place on an interdisciplinary level. Therefore, the conference presents itself as a place/platform for dialogue between Austrian and foreign academic experts, which are active in the fields of history, law, and the social sciences.