About Cyprus


On 20 July 1974 Turkey invaded Cyprus militarily, alleging to the international community that it was undertaking a “peace-keeping operation%26rdquo;. The pretext put forth for the invasion was the coup d%26rsquo; etat of Athens against the legal government of Archbishop Makarios.

On 14 August 1974 and whilst the negotiations were proceeding in Geneva, there was a new advance of Turkish troops which resulted in the occupation of 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus.

Since August 1974, approximately 35,000 Turkish troops are stationed in the Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, equipped with high technology military equipment. Taking into consideration the fact that Turkey is situated only 70 km away from Cyprus, a fact that allows it to transfer in a very short time thousands of troops, army equipment and ammunition, one can realize the disadvantageous situation into which Cyprus finds itself, vis-%3f-vis Turkey, a country disposing one of the most powerful armies in NATO.

Despite UN Security Council resolutions on the withdrawal of the Turkish occupation troops and the efforts of the international community for the peaceful resolution of the Cyprus problem, Turkey continues to reinforce its army of occupation, and to provoke and threaten that it will expand its occupation to the Government-controlled areas as well.

According to the UN Secretary General%26rsquo;s Report to the Security Council on the activities of the UN Peace-keeping Force in Cyprus (S1994/680/7.6.1994.par.28), the occupied areas of Cyprus is one of the most militarised areas in the world.

In the same way that every country in the world has the undeniable right to reinforce its defence so does Cyprus and even to a greater degree since the island is a victim of invasion and continuous occupation since 1974. Cyprus has not only the right but also the responsibility towards its citizens to constantly reinforce its defence.

The ultimate aim of this policy is:
n Firstly to create the level of deterrence which will convince Turkey that the cost of a possible attempt of expanding its occupation on the island will be greater than any possible benefit, and

n Secondly the Cypriot citizen will acquire the sense of security, which is necessary for him/her to become active and successful in any sector of the economy.

This policy of reinforcing the island%26rsquo;s ’defence was not an option for the Cyprus Government. It was imposed on Cyprus by the circumstances, which were created by the Turkish invasion and the continuous presence of Turkish troops in the occupied part of the island. Since the ancient times Cypriots are peace-loving people. For this reason, when President Clerides came to power, he sent a letter to the UN Secretary General on 17/12/1993, in which he suggested the complete demilitarisation of the island, with the withdrawal of the Turkish troops and the dissolution of the National Guard. Moreover, he suggested that the money that would normally be spent on defence could be used for the development and prosperity of the two communities following a solution to the Cyprus problem. Unfortunately, the Turkish side rejected President Clerides%26rsquo; proposal.

Defence Cooperation between Cyprus and Greece
In the afore-mentioned letter, President Clerides referred to the “massive presence of the Turkish troops in the occupied areas of Cyprus which necessitates the quest of Greek army assistance and the inclusion of Cyprus in the Greek defence planning%26rdquo; as well. Greece, on the basis of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, has guaranteed the independence, territorial integrity and security of the Republic of Cyprus. Greece is also one of the signatory parties of the 1960 Treaty of Alliance.

In November 1993 the President of the Republic of Cyprus Glafcos Clerides and the Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou declareded the Joint Defence Doctrine between Cyprus and Greece.

As a result of the doctrine Greece and Cyprus set the basis for common defence, in the framework of which the Greek Armed Forces will assist Cyprus militarily in the case of an advance by the Turkish troops.

Armament Programmes
Despite the hardships the government experienced in the supply of military equipment, due to the embargo imposed by many western countries, Cyprus managed to implement an armament programme for the years 1996-2000. The implementation of this programme contributed in reversing to a great extent the balance of power in armaments which was against Cyprus and to reinforce the National Guard with modern arming systems and equipment.

These arming systems are the main battle tanks T-80, the Infantry Combat Vehicles MBP-3, the Armoured Personnel Carriers Leonidas, the Antitank guided systems MILAN-3, ASPIDE Air Defence Systems, a new long-range surveillance radar, general-purpose military vehicles and ammunition.

Cyprus%26rsquo; participation to the European Military Capabilities
In the context of Cyprus%26rsquo; accession course to the European Union and the island%26rsquo;s potential as a candidate state for participation in the Common European Policy of Security and Defence, the Government made known, in time, its intention to contribute to the improvement of the European Military Capabilities, whose purpose will be the maintenance or the restoration of peace, humanitarian missions and missions of managing crises.

On 21 November 2000, the Minister of Defence, Socrates Hasikos, submitted to the ad hoc EU Council of Defence Ministers Cyprus%26rsquo; contribution to the European Military Capabilities which comprises of the symbolic contribution of one transport company, one system of air surveillance and Cyprus%26rsquo; infrastructure such as airports, ports, network of air and sea inspection for the services of the European Forces in the event of undertaking peaceful operations in the broader area of Cyprus.

For continuous contact between the European Union and the Republic of Cyprus, the Ministry of Defence has appointed a high rank officer as a representative in the Military Committee and an officer as a liaison with the Military of the Union.

Centre of Research and Rescue
Amongst the international responsibilities of the Republic of Cyprus lies the organisation and functioning of a Research and Rescue Centre, with the task of coordinating the operation of locating and rescuing people whose lives are in danger due to land, sea and air accidents within Nicosia%26rsquo;s FIR. This centre has been functioning successfully in the last few years.

Due to the constantly increasing movement in the wider area of the island, the Republic of Cyprus has improved the capability of the Centre of Research and Rescue and increased the means of research and rescue. In 2001 the Government purchased two Helicopters while next year it plans to purchase six research – rescue helicopters and additional boats.

Entry Date 8/8/2001