After the Republic of Cyprus became independent, in 1960, following 80 years of British colonial rule, relations between the island’s Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, representing 78 and 18 percent of the population respectively, quickly broke down.
Following the outbreak of fighting between the communities in December 1963, a UN peacekeeping and peacemaking mission was established. In 1974, the military government in Greece tried to annex the island, prompting Turkey to invade and occupy the northern third of Cyprus.
In 1977, the Greek and Turkish Cypriots agreed that reunification should be based on a federal solution. Despite this, in November 1983, the Turkish Cypriots unilaterally declared independence.
While the Turkish Cypriot state was immediately recognized by Turkey, the move was condemned by the UN Security Council, which passed Resolution 541 calling on countries not to recognize the so-called ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’.
Despite this, UN efforts to reunite the island have continued. In 2004, a settlement plan was rejected by the Greek Cypriots. Meanwhile, another major UN-led settlement effort collapsed in 2017.
Although both sides officially remain committed to reunification, the prospects of this actually happening appear to diminish with every passing year.