Government and Regime
Cyprus is an independent sovereign Republic with a presidential system of government. Under the 1960 Constitution, executive power is exercised by the President of the Republic, elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term of office. The President exercises executive power through a Council of Ministers appointed by him. Ministers may be chosen from outside the House of Representatives.
Cyprus is a member of the United Nations and U.N. Agencies. It is also a member of the Council of Europe, the Commonwealth, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and many other international Organisations.
Following the signing of the EU Enlargement Treaty in Athens on April 16, 2003 and its subsequent ratification by the Cypriot House of Representatives, Cyprus will officialy join the EU on May 01 , 2004.
The legislative authority in the Republic is exercised by the House of Representatives now consisting of eighty members (56 of whom are to be Greek Cypriots and 24 Turkish Cypriots) elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term. At the time of its establishment, the House consisted of 50 members, 35 of whom were to be Greek Cypriots and 15 Turkish Cypriots. According to the constitution the ratio is 70% Greek Cypriots and 30% Turkish Cypriots. Following the withdrawal of the Turkish Cypriot members, the House has been functioning only with the Greek Cypriot members.
The administration of justice is exercised by the island's separate and independent Judiciary. Under the 1960 Constitution and other legislation in force, the following judicial institutions have been established: The Supreme Court of the Republic, The Assize Courts, District Courts, Military Court, Industrial Disputes Court, Rent Control Courts and Familiy Courts. The Supreme Courts is the final appellate court in the Republic and the final adjudicator in matters of constitutional and administrative law.
In July 1974, Turkey, using as a pretext the criminal coup against President Makarios, invaded Cyprus in violation of the UN Charter and all principles governing international relations. As a result 37% of the island was occupied, 200 000 Greek Cypriots, who were forcibly expelled from this area, became refugees in their own country and are still deprived of the right to return to their homes and properties. In addition, 1 619 Greek Cypriots are still missing. The blow was heavy. Byzantine churches, monuments and antiquities were destroyed or looted and many items were smuggled abroad. Sadly, the island's cultural heritage that reaches back to the 7th millenium B.C. and is part of the common heritage of mankind, continues to this day to be systematically and deliberately destroyed in the occupied areas.
Moreover, about 115,000 settlers from Turkey have been transplanted illegally to the occupied part of Cyprus and given properties usurped from the expelled Greek Cypriots. At the same time Turkish Cypriots have been emigrating in large numbers, resulting in diminishing the size of the Turkish Cypriot community in the occupied part. All this, coupled with a strong military presence in the occupied areas (estimated at 40 000 Turkish troops) and an attempt to change the place names of villages and towns into Turkish ones, is clear evidence that Turkey is turning the occupied part of Cyprus into a Turkish province.
A series of UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions condemned the invasion of Cyprus and occupation, demanded the return of the refugees to their homes in safety and the tracing of the missing persons and called for respect of the human rights of all Cypriots. Moreover, the European Commission of Human Rights found the Government of Turkey guilty of gross violations of human rights in Cyprus during and after the invasion.
In November 1983 Turkey instigated the announcement by the Turkish Cypriot leadership of “an independent state” in occupied Cyprus. The international community through UN Security Council Resolutions 541 of 1983 and 550 of 1984 condemned this unilateral declaration by the Turkish side, declared it both illegal and invalid, and called for the immediate withdrawal of the declaration. The opinion of the international community was ignored by Turkey but no other country has recognized the illegal regime.
Negotiations for the solution of the Cyprus problem have been going on intermittently since 1975 under the auspices of the United Nations, but progress has been obstructed by Turkish intransigence. As the UN Secretary General stated in a report “the absence of agreement is due essentially to a lack of political will on the Turkish Cypriot side”. This attitude of Turkey as well as the continuing violation of the fundamental human rights of the people of Cyprus have been condemned by international bodies such as the UN General Assembly, the European Parliament, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Commonwealth and the Council of Europe.