Life Under Embargo

Embargoes Everywhere

Today in Cyprus the quality of your life and the ability to exercise your basic human rights depends on which side of the border you live. If you live in South Cyprus, you have the opportunities to enjoy normal trade, political, and social relations with people around the world. In contrast, people living in North Cyprus have had to endure internationally-imposed embargoes that have denied them the right to engage in any political, economic, social or cultural activities, leaving them completely isolated from the rest of the world. This situation has existed for over forty years.

It is important to note that the embargoes imposed on North Cyprus do not have the authority of any UN Security Council Resolution under Article 41 of the UN Charter. However, the Greek Cypriots have sought to leverage the badly worded UN Resolution 186, passed on 4 March 1964, to legitimise their status as the 'sole recognised authority' on the island of Cyprus and sadly deny Turkish Cypriots their legal, political and basic human rights.

As you will see below, because of extensive lobbying by Greek Cypriots, a comprehensive set of embargoes have been applied to North Cyprus that are adhered to worldwide (bar Turkey). The impact is therefore as comprehensive as any UN sanctioned embargo.

UN Resolution 186

  • UN Resolution 186 was passed on 4 March 1964 as part of the UN's commitment to end the violence in Cyprus instigated by the Greek Cypriots during their bloody coup in December 1963.
  • Unfortunately, this badly worded Resolution referred to working with the "Government of Cyprus", which at that time was 100% staffed by Greek Cypriots.
  • Greek Cypriots have used this to assert themselves as the sole "legitimate" authority on the island, even though this contradicts with the 1960 Constitution of Cyprus where both Turkish and Greek Cypriots are politically equal.
  • The passing of this Resolution marked the start of four decades of embargoes on Turkish Cypriots who refused to accept their constitutional rights being usurped.
  • Click here to read UN Resolution 186
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Ban on Representation

  • As founding partners of the Republic of Cyprus that was established in 1960, Turkish Cypriots are politically equal to the Greek Cypriots. They have the power of veto and many separate legal and political rights, which were enshrined in the Cyprus Constitution.
  • This state of affairs was destroyed by the Greek Cypriots when they launched a sustained attack on Turkish Cypriots in December 1963, which lasted until the Turkish intervention in 1974. During this time, the Greek Cypriot leader Archbishop Makarios unilaterally and illegally repealed the Cyprus Constitution as part of his campaign to eliminate the constitutional rights of the Turkish Cypriot people and relegate them to a minority.
  • After twenty years of failed negotiations to reunite the island, Turkish Cypriots exercised their rights to self-determination and on 15 November 1985 declared their own state, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).
  • The Greek Cypriot authorities' maintain the TRNC is "illegitimate" and lobby the international community to refuse to recognise or deal with the Turkish Cypriot people and their elected representatives. As a result, Turkish Cypriots have continued to be denied the right of representation in any international forum for the past forty years.
  • Greek Cypriots even object to Turkish Cypriot politicians having their own room or dedicated space to work from in the European Parliament.
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Ban on Academia

  • Although both peoples in Cyprus have always had rights to separate educational systems under the 1960 Constitution, to ensure their distinct ethnic, religious and cultural identities are maintained, the Greek Cypriots consistently fail to honour this. As shown below, even academic institutions are prone to Greek Cypriot pressure.
  • North Cyprus is home to seven universities teaching in the English language which annually provide education to over 50,000 students. Yet these institutions, their students and scholars constantly face academic embargoes.
  • In 2005, North Cyprus' largest institution, the Eastern Mediterranean University (EMU) applied to join the European University Association and tried to obtain Erasmus University Charter status and related funding. Both were refused. EMU scholars' requests for international research grants have also been blocked, while efforts by an EMU based Palestinian student to access the international scheme International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) resulted in a particularly distressing response when he was accused of committing a "criminal act" for "residing in the occupied area".
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Ban on Culture

  • Led by the racist Cyprus Action Network of America, Greek Cypriots launched a massive campaign to prevent American singer and actress from coming to perform at the private opening of a new luxury hotel in North Cyprus in July 2010. Sadly, the star chose to capitulate to this racist pressure and cancelled her appearance at Cratos.
  • For years, Turkish Cypriots have been prevented from taking part in cultural activities such as the Eurovision Song Contest. In recent years, Turkish Cypriots have been permitted to apply to the Greek Cypriot authorities to represent 'Cyprus'. However, as only those with South Cyprus telephone numbers can vote to select the island's representative, the odds of a Turkish Cypriot ever succeeding nonexistent.
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Ban on Direct Communication

  • To date, North Cyprus' postal administration has been denied any status within the Universal Postal Union and Turkish Cypriots do not have internationally recognised addresses or telephone numbers. All mail and calls to and from North Cyprus must go via Turkey.
  • It is common for Greek Cypriots to lobby telecommunications companies not to display calls are to North Cyprus on itemised bills, even though due to re-routing through Turkey, call costs are significantly higher to North Cyprus than South Cyprus.
  • As a result, the entire 265,100 citizens of North Cyprus are relegated to a PO Box, with all mail to and from North Cyprus having to go via Mersin 10, Turkey.
  • Mail often goes missing. A recent test undertaken by the British Residents' Society in the TRNC saw 82 pieces of mail sent from the UK, yet only 17 ever arrived. Those that did took between 5 and 8 days. The missing items, along with countless others, have never been found.
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Ban on economic development and international aid

  • Having been admitted in 2008, two years later YAGA - North Cyprus' development agency - was expelled from the World Association of Investment Promotion (WAIPA) through the relentless pressure of Greek Cypriots.
  • Foreign investors have been discouraged from entering Turkish Cypriot territory for years through a combination of unwarranted legal threats and a continuous barrage of Greek Cypriot propaganda, resulting in minimal international capital flowing into North Cyprus. As a result, there is a massive difference between the two economies on the island: the national revenue in the Republic of Cyprus accounted for $22 billion in 2007, while revenues in North Cyprus were only $2 billion in the same period.
  • Embargoes have meant North Cyprus cannot be recognised as a candidate for loans by the International Monetary Fund or the World Bank.
  • In 2004, the EU pledged a €259 million (£176m) aid package for Turkish Cypriots to help bolster their weakened economy. This aid has been consistently blocked by Greek Cypriots who continue to benefit as one of the most subsidised countries in the world, receiving massive aid through bilateral & international negotiations for those living in South Cyprus.
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Ban on Sporting Events

  • Turkish Cypriots are not allowed to participate or host international teams, or sporting events. The extent of these embargoes are vast; no teams or individuals from North Cyprus have participated in any of the following since December 1963, Olympic and Commonwealth Games, World and European sporting tournaments such as athletics championships or football competitions.
  • In 2004, Greek Cypriots prevented the Olympic torch from travelling into North Cyprus as part of its global journey before reaching Athens for the 2004 Olympic Games.
  • Even friendly football matches are banned!
    • FIFA fined a German soccer team, Bad Lippspinge, 20,000 US dollars in September 1998 for playing a football match with the Turkish Cypriot team Çetinkaya.
    • In April 2005, the (Greek) Cyprus Football Association prevented an English team, Huddersfield Town AFC, from playing a friendly football match in North Cyprus. This was in spite of the English Football Association having no objection to this game and overlooks the historical right of Turkish Cypriots to their own football federation, which dates back to 1955.
    • There was almost a breakthrough in the summer of 2007. Çetinkaya SK was due to play Luton Town FC in North Nicosia. It would have been the first time a professional British football team would have played in the TRNC. While the English Football Association authorised the match, the [Greek] Cypriot Football Association refused permission. It was backed by the usual threats to punish Luton with severe FIFA sanctions if they disobeyed the 'local FA' and played the match. The English FA tried to resolve the match right until kick off with both sets of players waiting in the tunnel waiting to come on to the pitch. But sadly the Greek Cypriot FA refused to drop its objection, resulting in only Luton Town players appearing to play a practice session amongst themselves.
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Ban on Direct Travel

  • Greek Cypriots insist the world must obtain permission from them to use any ports in North Cyprus and refuse permission for use of any port not under their direct control. As a result, ports and airports in North Cyprus have been closed to direct international trade and travel since 1974. Travel to North Cyprus can only take place via Turkey.
  • The requirement of a stopover in Turkey increases the time, financial cost and environmental impact of travel, discouraging both visitors and potential businesspeople from entering North Cyprus.
  • Many countries do not recognise a passport issued by the TRNC, forcing Turkish Cypriots to obtain this document from either Turkey or from the Republic of Cyprus so they can travel around the world. This adds cost and time, as well as a loss of identity.
  • Greek Cypriots use the number of Turkish Cypriots holding Republic of Cyprus passports as a tool to claim they are the only legitimate authority on the island - they fail to add that it is through the Greek Cypriot imposed embargoes that Turkish Cypriots are forced to apply for these documents.
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Last Update:
23rd Jul 2014