For more than a half-century, the Mediterranean island of Cyprus has been embroiled in an ethnic dispute between Greek and Turkish islanders. An inability to share political power led to internal-communal violence and the deployment of UNFICYP in 1964. UNFICYP worked to improve Cyprus’s infrastructure and governmental institutions, while simultaneously continuing to prioritize peacebuilding between the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities. An attempted coup in 1974 caused Turkey to intervene militarily and establish control over the northern third of the island, while Greek-Cypriots fled to the southern part of the island. Subsequently, UNFICYP’s mandate was expanded to include monitoring a buffer zone between the two sides, and a de facto ceasefire has held ever since. Demilitarizing the communities is an ongoing challenge, as the ceasefire has never been formalized.
In 1983, the northern part of the island proclaimed itself the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and declared independence, but remains unrecognized by the international community, with the exception of Turkey. In 2004, the Republic of Cyprus, the southern region with a Greek-Cypriot majority, joined the European Union.
Spurred on by international pressure and Cypriot frustration, there has been slow progress in UN-backed peace negotiations for the reunification of the country. Cyprus still faces an economic recession, largely due to its connection with Greek banks, which has required the government to enact a number of austerity measures. Cyprus agreed to an EU/IMF bailout, but growth since 2012 has exceeded expectations and finance ministers say that the country will not need additional support from creditors, once the bailout expires in 2016.