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Relations with Cyprus Enlargement

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This page was archived on the 1st of May 2004.
The information concerning this ex candidate country has not been updated since that date.

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Map of Cyprus


Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean (9.251 sq. km), situated in its eastern part. It is at the crossroads between Europe, Asia and Africa and plays a bridge building role.

The island's main economic activities are banking, tourism, craft exports and merchant shipping. Over the years the economy gradually developed into a modern economy, with dynamic services, industrial and agricultural sectors and advanced physical and social infrastructure.

The Republic of Cyprus gained its independence from Britain in 1960 foreseeing a bi-communal structure i.e. peaceful existence of both communities side by side. In 1963, however, political crisis and inter-communal violence broke out, which resulted in 1974 in a de facto partition of the island. Although efforts have been made to settle the Cyprus issue under the auspices of the UN until now, the country still remains divided. However the ban on crossing to and from the south has been lifted on 23 April 2003 for both Turkish and Greek Cypriots. In the first eight days thereafter approximately 90.000 Greek Cypriots and 30.000 Turkish Cypriots took advantage of this situation crossing the line between the north and the south in a general sentiment of joy. No incidents were reported, on the contrary a warm welcome was given to the visiting Greek Cypriots by Turkish Cypriots and to the visiting Turkish Cypriots by the Greek Cypriots.

The Accession negotiations were opened with Cyprus in 1998. They were concluded in December 2002.

After ratification of the Accession Treaty, Cyprus will become a member of the European Union.


Cyprus has been a centre of international trade since the copper that was worked on the island from 2500 BC - giving the name to it - became the basis of thriving exports, with Cypriot seafarers ranging as far as Egypt, Syria and Babylon, as well as Sicily and Crete. Although Greek settlers in the 11th and 12th centuries BC brought the Greek language, religion and arts, Cyprus' close cultural and commercial ties with the Orient marked it out as different from other areas characterised by a common Greek culture.

In ancient times, Cyprus was ruled by different powers (Assyrian, Egyptian, Persian, Macedonian). A Roman province from 58 BC to 395 AD, it became part of the Byzantine Empire (395 - 1184), and after periods of French (1192 - 1489) and Venetian (1489 - 1571) reign, the Ottoman Empire took over (1571-1878). Finally, Great Britain administered Cyprus as a colony from 1878-1960. With the Treaties of Zurich and London of 1959, Cyprus was given independence while Turkey, Greece and the United Kingdom reserved for themselves special rights as Guarantor Powers.

At the time of independence in 1960, Cyprus was inhabited by 80% Greek Cypriots and 20% Turkish Cypriots. The constitution foresaw (and still foresees) a bi-communal structure. The peaceful existence of Greek and Turkish communities side by side, but differing in language, culture, religion and national traditions, ended already in late 1963 when a political crisis and inter-communal violence broke out. The Turkish Cypriots withdrew from the common institutions. The United Nations sent for the first time peacekeeping forces to the island, which are present up to date.

In July 1974, supporters of integration with Greece conspired in a Coup against President Archbishop Makarios. This resulted in a military intervention by Turkey, the landing of its troops in the northern part of the territory of Cyprus, and the de facto partition of the island. This led to large-scale population movements across the cease-fire line and more especially, from the northern to the southern part of the island. Since then, various efforts of the UN to come to a peace agreement took place, but the country is still divided. Nicosia, the capital, still has a wall like Berlin once had. The northern part of Cyprus has not been recognised by any country in the world, except for Turkey which is stationing there 30.000 military.

In 1990, the government of the Republic of Cyprus applied for EU-membership in the name of the whole island. The accession negotiations started in March 1998 and were completed in December 2002. On 16 April 2003 the Accession Treaty was signed in Athens paving the way for Cyprus becoming Member State of the European Union as from 1 May 2004.


Official Name Republic of Cyprus
Constitution The 1960 Constitution has been retained although all provisions relating to the participation of the Turkish community in the exercise of executive, legislative and judicial powers are no longer applied.
Electoral system Universal obligatory direct suffrage over age 18. Separate presidential and parliamentary elections.
Head of State President Tassos PAPADOPOULOS (since February 2003)
Foreign Minister Mr George IACOVOU
Head of Negotiating Team for EU-Accession Takis HADJIDEMETRIOU (since April 2003)
Current government President Papadopoulos formed a Centre-Left Coalition government (involving former Communists, Social Democrats, centre-right Democrats and independent personalities)

The New Government since 28 February 2003


Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr George

Minister of Finance

Mr Markos Kyprianou


Minister of Interior

Mr Andreas Christou


Minister of Defence

Mr Kyriakos Mavronicolas


Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism

Mr George


Minister of Labour and Social Insurance

Mr Iacovos Keravnos


Minister of Communications and Works

Mr George


Minister of Justice and Public Order

Mr Doros Theodorou


Minister of Agriculture, Resources, Enviromnt

Mr Efthimios Efthimiou


Minister of Education and Culture

Mr Pefkios Georgiades


Minister of Health

Mrs Constantia Akkelidou


Government Spokesman

Mr Kypros Chrysostomides


Under-Secretary to the President

Mr Michalis Pasiardis


*) Cyprus has a presidential system - there is no Prime Minister.


The House of Representatives exercises the Legislative power. Since the withdrawal of the Turkish Cypriots from the Republic's institutions (1963), the House of Representatives has functioned only with Greek Cypriots parliamentarians. They are elected by obligatory universal suffrage for a five-year term. The last elections were held on 27 May 2001. The next elections are due to be held in 2006.

There is a special Committee for EU and External Affairs in order to assist the harmonisation process. This Committee consisting of 19 members examines all legislative instruments that are required for the approximation of the national legislation to the acquis, with the possibility of a fast-track procedure. Parliament, as supreme legislative authority, has the final say on budgetary and legislative matters.

Representation of the political parties in the Parliament:

Political Parties

Elections May 2001 %


DISY Democratic Rally (PPE affiliated)



AKEL Progressive Workers P. (former Communists)



DIKO Democratic Party (centre right)



KISOS Social Democrats (PES affiliated)



New Horizons (centre)



EDI United Democrats (liberal)



ADIK (centre right)



Green Party (green)







An independent judiciary exercises the administration of justice. The main judicial institutions are the following: The Supreme Court of the Republic, The Assize Court (Permanent Assize Court for all Districts), District Courts, Military Court, Industrial Disputes Court, Rent Control Courts, Family Courts.
Under the Constitution, judges are bound to be impartial. They are independent from the other branches of government. Whereas first instance judges are appointed, transferred and promoted by, and are subject to the disciplinary jurisdiction of the Supreme Council of Judicature (composed of members of the Supreme Court), the Supreme Court judges (Attorney-General) are appointed by the President of the Republic. He is the Head of the Law Office of the Republic which is an independent office and a key element in the harmonisation process. The Attorney-General is the legal adviser of the President and of the Council of Ministers.

Foreign Policy

  • Cyprus became a member of the United Nations in 1960, of the Commonwealth and of the Council of Europe in 1961.
  • Cyprus is member of the OSCE since 1995.
  • Cyprus is an active proponent of regional co-operation in the Mediterranean basin and strives to contribute to regional stability in the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.
  • Since its application for membership of the EU in 1990, Cyprus aims at aligning its commercial policy with the EU's common commercial policy and co-ordinates positions and policies within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) with the EU.
  • Cyprus participates in the multilateral political dialogue and continues to align itself regularly with instruments of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).


Cyprus is a functioning market economy with a sufficient degree of macroeconomic stability to cope with competitive pressures within the EU. It has a successful economic performance and is classified by the World Bank as a high-income country. GDP per capita amounts to 18,500 € which is 80 % of EU average and places Cyprus to the first among all Candidate Countries. In the labour market, unemployment has remained low (3.4% in 2002) due to Cypriot economy's success, the pursuance of macro-economic policies by the government as well as the existence of a dynamic and flexible entrepreneurship and a highly educated labour force. Moreover, the economy benefited from the close co-operation between the public sector and the social partners. During the last decade Cyprus has intensified its economic links to Europe. The EU is Cyprus's largest trading partner (54% and 52% respectively of Cyprus's exports and imports in the year 2002).

The services sector, and in particular tourism, has been the primary source of this impressive economic performance (65% of its population is employed in that sector). Although industry and agriculture still employ close to 30% of the population, their contribution to the GDP is lower (21% for industry, 4% for agriculture) and declining every year. In 2001, almost 3 million tourists visited the southern part of the island. Direct receipts from tourism accounted for 9.2 % of GDP in 2001, whereas the share of trade and tourism amounted to 22%. The importance of the services in the economy has allowed the Cypriot economy to benefit from productivity gains and show an impressive growth during the last years.

Conditions in the northern part of the island

The economic situation in the northern part of Cyprus is weak. Real output growth of its population (around 200,000 people) was reduced by 3.6% in 2001, following a 0.6% fall in 2000. Consequently, per capita income has continued to decline in 2001, with the economic crisis aggravating the income gap with the rest of the island. The GDP is estimated around € 4,500 per capita in 2002. The northern part of the island has no independent monetary policy and uses the Turkish Lira as its currency. High inflation is imported from Turkey. Trade is heavily dependent on the Turkish market. The tourism potential remains largely under utilised. Turkish Cypriots cannot benefit from the advantages stemming from the Association Agreement. In 1994, the European Court of Justice ruled that administrative co-operation "is excluded with the authorities of an entity such as that established in the northern part of Cyprus, which is recognised neither by the Community nor by the Member States".


a. The accession process

The EU and Cyprus signed an Association Agreement in December 1972 that was complemented by a Protocol concluded in 1987. It constitutes the legal framework for current EU-Cyprus relations. A Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), consisting of members of the European Parliament and of the Chamber of Representatives of Cyprus, was set up in 1991. It meets twice a year. Cyprus also benefits from regional and horizontal measures under the MEDA Programme (principal financial instrument of the European Union for the implementation of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership). The office of the Delegation of the European Commission was opened in Nicosia in May 1990.

The Republic of Cyprus applied for membership in July 1990 In 1993 the Commission concluded that the application was made in the name of the whole island. On 6 March 1995, the General Affairs Council Conclusion confirmed Cyprus's suitability for membership and established that accession negotiations with Cyprus would start 6 months after the end of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC). A structured dialogue was initiated in order to discuss areas where Cyprus had to make efforts to adapt to the EU's legal system and policies. The European Council in Luxembourg (1997) confirmed that accession negotiations would begin in spring 1998. The Turkish Cypriots were invited to be included in the Cypriot delegation. The accession negotiations started on 30 March 1998.

Substantial accession negotiations, particularly on the adoption and implementation of the EU legislation began in November 1998 and were concluded at the Copenhagen European Council in December 2002. The accession negotiations included 29 sectorial chapters, the chapter on "institutions" and on the chapter "miscellaneous". Transitional arrangements have been agreed upon in nine chapters. In parallel the European Commission drew up each autumn a Regular Report on the progress of each of the candidate countries on the way towards accession. In these reports, the Commission services identify the remaining shortcomings and tasks to be carried out prior to accession to meet the political, economic and legal "Copenhagen criteria" for accession, with particular emphasis on enforcement and institutional capacity. The latest Regular Report on Cyprus was published on 9 October 2002.
The European Council in Brussels of March 2003 regretted that the efforts of the United Nations Secretary General to find a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem have failed. The EU strongly supports the continuation of the Secretary General's mission of good offices and of negotiations on the basis of his proposals. It urges all parties concerned to spare no effort towards a just, viable and functional settlement and, in particular, the Turkish Cypriot leadership to reconsider its position. The European Council reaffirms its decisions taken at Copenhagen where it confirmed that Cyprus would be admitted as new Member State to the European Union on 1 May 2004 and underlined its strong preference for accession by a united Cyprus. The EU is ready to accommodate the terms of a political settlement in the accession of a united Island in line with the principles on which the European Union is founded. A specific protocol on Cyprus is attached to the Accession Treaty which foresees that in the absence of a settlement, the application of the acquis shall be suspended to the northern part of the island until the Council decides unanimously otherwise, on the basis of a proposal by the Commission. In other words: the door is open for the integration of the Turkish Cypriots in the EU.

b. Financial co-operation and Pre-Accession Assistance

In the past, four financial protocols on financial co-operation were signed between the EU and the Republic of Cyprus, covering a period of 22 years (1978 till 1999). During this time, € 210 Million were made available under the form of loans (152 M€), grants (51 M€), and risk capital (7 M€). The main target sectors were Small and Medium Enterprises, Environment, Energy and Transport.

Since 2000, pre-accession aid is available to Cyprus for an amount of 57 M€ to be programmed over 5 years (2000-2004). The new Financial Regulation on the "implementation of the pre-accession strategy" for Cyprus (and Malta) will ensure, like for all Candidate Countries of Central and Eastern Europe, that assistance is targeted towards pre-accession investment priorities, institution-building priorities and support in economic and social cohesion. Additionally, the regulation foresees to support "any operations to contribute to the reconciliation of the two Cypriot communities." This support is provided via what is called the "bi-communal" projects. For all harmonisation operations, co-financing is being sought being it national (compulsory), or with other donors (Member States, International Financing Institutions).

In 2000, the € 9 million available for Cyprus were broken down for harmonisation projects (5 M€), for bi-communal projects (3 M€), for co-financing Cyprus participation in 3 Education and Training Community Programmes (1 M€). In the year 2001, the EU provided € 11,5 million to support projects for institution building, adoption of the acquis, and bi-communal activities, and to help meet the costs of Cyprus' participation in EC programmes and Agencies. In 2002, while bi-communal projects focused on the civil society (Business Support Programme and Small Projects Fund, for 2,6 M€), harmonisation projects targeted sectors such as agriculture, telecom, maritime transport and statistics. In total € 11,5 million were also programmed that year for Cyprus. Finally with 2003, the Commission will normally end its pre-accession support to Cyprus with a package of € 12 million to be approved in the first quarter of 2003. This programming exercise is likely to have a strong focus on both environment and economic and social cohesion. Cyprus also participates in, and benefits from, MEDA funded multi-country and horizontal programmes, and from the TAIEX instrument.

While 2001 was the year of decentralisation of EU assistance to Cyprus (on the PHARE model), 2003 will probably be the year of extended decentralisation ("EDIS: Extended Decentralisation System") of the EU assistance to the island; an additional step in the process of decentralisation allowing Cyprus to assume a larger responsibility over the implementation of EU pre-accession assistance, in line with the orientations of the future Structural Funds. Cyprus should be the first of the Candidate Countries to be granted such autonomy by the Commission.



Population According to the Cypriot government the total population living in territories under its control is 705,500 (2002). The population in the north is estimated at around 200,000, of which 87,000 are Turkish Cypriots and the remaining are Turks originating from mainland Turkey (30,000 Turkish military stationed in the island not included).
Area 9,251 - about 37% of the Republic's territory remains under Turkish control. 1.8% forms part of the buffer zone along the cease-fire line, 5% is covered by two UK sovereign base areas.
Borders The closest countries to this Mediterranean island are Turkey, Greece, and Syria.
Distribution 70% urban population, 30% rural population
Major towns Nicosia - the capital - has a population of about 272,700; Limassol, Larnaca, Paphos, Kyrenia , Famagusta and Morphou
Official Languages Greek and Turkish
Major Religions Greek Orthodox, Moslem, Armenian, Roman Catholic, Maronite.
Currency 1 Cyprus Pound = 100 cents = 1.74 Euro


Luxembourg 12-12-1997
The accession of Cyprus should benefit all communities and help to bring about civil peace and reconciliation. The accession negotiations will contribute positively to the search for a political solution to the Cyprus problem through the talks under the aegis of the United Nations which must continue with a view to creating a bi-community, bi-zonal federation. In this context, the European Council requests that the willingness of the Government of Cyprus to include representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community in the accession negotiating delegation be acted upon. In order for this request to be acted upon, the necessary contacts will be undertaken by the Presidency and the Commission. The European Council recalls that strengthening Turkey's links with the European Union also depends on that country's pursuit of the political and economic reforms on which it has embarked, including the alignment of human rights standards and practices on those in force in the European Union; respect for and protection of minorities; the establishment of satisfactory and stable relations between Greece and Turkey; the settlement of disputes, in particular by legal process, including the International Court of Justice; and support for negotiations under the aegis of the UN on a political settlement in Cyprus on the basis of the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.

Vienna 11-12-1998
The European Council confirms its support for the efforts of the UN Secretary-General towards a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus and in particular for the process being developed by his Deputy Special Representative with the goal of reducing tensions and promoting progress towards a just and lasting settlement based on the relevant UNSC decisions.

Helsinki 11-12-1999
The European Council welcomes the launch of the talks aiming at a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem on 3 December in New York and expresses its strong support for the UN Secretary-General's efforts to bring the process to a successful conclusion. The European Council underlines that a political settlement will facilitate the accession of Cyprus to the European Union. If no settlement has been reached by the completion of accession negotiations, the Council's decision on accession will be made without the above being a precondition. In this the Council will take account of all relevant factors.

Nice 8-12-2000
The European Council welcomed and strongly supports the efforts of the United Nations Secretary-General to achieve an overall agreement on the Cyprus problem consistent with the UN Security Council Resolutions and to arrive at a positive conclusion of the process initiated in December 1999. It appeals to all the parties concerned to contribute to the efforts made to this effect.

Laeken 15-12-2001
The European Council welcomes the recent meetings between the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities and would encourage them to continue their discussions with a view to an overall solution under the auspices of the United Nations consistent with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.

Seville 22-6-2002
In respect of the accession of Cyprus, the Helsinki conclusions are the basis of the European Union's position. The European Union4s preference is still for the accession of a reunited island. The European Council fully supports the efforts of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and calls upon the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to intensify and expedite their talks in order to seize this unique window of opportunity for a comprehensive settlement, consistent with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, it is to be hoped before the conclusion of the negotiations. The European Union would accommodate the terms of such a comprehensive settlement in the Treaty of Accession in line with the principles on which the European Union is founded: as a Member State, Cyprus will have to speak with a single voice and ensure proper application of European Union law. The European Union would make a substantial financial contribution in support of the development of the northern part of a reunited island.

Brussels 26-11-2002
The Union reiterates its preference for a reunited Cyprus to join the European Union on the basis of a comprehensive settlement, and urges the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to seize the opportunity and reach an agreement before the end of the accession negotiations this year. The Union will continue to fully support the substantial efforts of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for reaching a settlement, consistent with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. The European Union will accommodate the terms of such a comprehensive settlement in the Treaty of Accession in line with the principles on which the European Union is founded. In the absence of a settlement, the decisions to be taken in December by the Copenhagen European Council will be based on the conclusions set out by the Helsinki European Council in 1999.

Copenhagen 16-12-2002
As the accession negotiations have been completed with Cyprus, Cyprus will be admitted as a new Member State to the European Union. Nevertheless the European Council confirms its strong preference for accession to the European Union by a united Cyprus. In this context it welcomes the commitment of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots to continue to negotiate with the objective of concluding a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem by 28 February 2003 on the basis of the UNSG4s proposals. The European Council believes that these proposals offer a unique opportunity to reach a settlement in the coming weeks and urges the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities to seize this opportunity.
The Union recalls its willingness to accommodate the terms of a settlement in the Treaty of Accession in line with the principles on which the EU is founded. In case of a settlement, the Council, acting by unanimity on the basis of proposals by the Commission, shall decide upon adaptations of the terms concerning the accession of Cyprus to the EU with regard to the Turkish Cypriot community.
The European Council has decided that, in the absence of a settlement, the application on the acquis to the northern part of the island shall be suspended, until the Council decides unanimously otherwise, on the basis of a proposal by the Commission. Meanwhile, the Council invites the Commission, in consultation with the government of Cyprus, to consider ways of promoting economic development of the northern part of Cyprus and bringing it closer to the Union.

Brussels 21-03-2003
The European Council regrets that the efforts of the United Nations Secretary General to find a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem have failed. The EU strongly supports the continuation of the Secretary General's mission of good offices and of negotiations on the basis of his proposals. It urges all parties concerned to spare no effort towards a just, viable and functional settlement and, in particular, the Turkish Cypriot leadership to reconsider its position. The European Council reaffirms its decisions taken at Copenhagen with regard to Cyprus' accession to the EU.

Overview of key documents related to enlargement

(pdf format)


Regular Report -  November 5, 2003 420kb 449kb 231kb All
Regular Report -  October 9, 2002 All
Regular Report -  November 13, 2001 All
Regular Report - November 8, 2000 All
Progress Report - October 13, 1999 All
Progress Report - November 1998 All
Accession Partnership - November 13, 2001 
33kb (pdf format)

All countries

38kb (pdf format)
36kb (pdf format)
Opinion on Cyprus's Application for Membership
of the European Union - June 1993:

Press releases / News section

Interesting links