Econostrum | Economic News in the Mediterranean

European Commission releases €33.43m to bring the two Cypriot communities closer together

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Monday, July 25th 2022 à 14:40 | Read 359 times

Cyprus has been separated in two since 1974 (photo: DR)
Cyprus has been separated in two since 1974 (photo: DR)
CYPRUS. The European Commission adopted on Monday 25 July 2022 an annual action programme for the Turkish Cypriot community. With an annual budget of €33.43 million, it brings together a whole range of measures designed to "support economic development, reconciliation and confidence-building, including substantial support for the implementation of the Halloumi/Hellim PDO package", commented Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reform.

In April 2021, the Commission already published a package of two measures concerning Halloumi (Χαλλούμι in Greek and Hellim in Turkish). The name of this emblematic cheese of the Mediterranean island is now registered by the European Union as a protected designation of origin (PDO). This will prevent imitation of its recipe or misuse of its name within the EU and will bring economic benefits to Cyprus.

Producers in the Turkish Cypriot community also benefit, provided that the cheese and the milk from which it is made meet all EU animal and public health standards. In 2022, EU aid will therefore help to improve food safety and hygiene in the process, modernise dairy farms, improve product quality, increase sheep and goat milk yields and eradicate animal diseases.

Building a bridge between the two communities

The annual programme, which has the stated aim of facilitating future reunification, provides funding to the Committee on Missing Persons and the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage. It includes continued support for green energy and the environment in connection with the Green Pact for Europe. Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot academics will also be supported to jointly study in the United World College (UWC) network through a bi-communal scholarship programme.

"The programme will continue to encourage trade across the Green Line by developing sustainable and competitive fisheries. Finally, it will contribute to meeting the challenges of economic development and improving the employability of young people by investing in measures relating to vocational education and training," says a European Commission press release. The text also states that this support aims to "build confidence by building bridges between the two communities. Therefore, particular emphasis is put on the economic integration of the island and on improving contacts" between Greek and Turkish Cypriots.  


656 million already allocated to Cyprus

After an attempted annexation in 1974 by the colonial dictatorship in Greece and the intervention of Turkey, which invaded the northern part of the island, Cyprus is split in two (see box below). On one side is the Republic of Cyprus (1.26 million inhabitants), a member of the European Union since May 2004. On the other, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), self-proclaimed in November 1983 and recognised only by Turkey, which supports its 315,000 inhabitants financially and militarily.

Between 2006 and 2022, the European Commission has allocated €656 million to projects under the various annual aid programmes. "Our aid programme has shown that it brings significant concrete benefits to the Cypriot population and remains more relevant than ever (...) I am convinced that it will contribute to the efforts towards the reunification of Cyprus, which is (its) ultimate goal," says Elisa Ferreira.

Read also : EU to invest over €1bn in Cyprus as part of its social cohesion policy

See our survey on the partition of Cyprus

Four years from independence to division in Cyprus

Just four years after gaining independence from the UK in August 1960, history is already beginning to spin out of control in Cyprus. This Mediterranean island, with centuries of antagonistic neighbours (it belonged to the Ottoman Empire until the end of the First World War), experienced its first fracture in 1964 with violent tensions between its Greek and Turkish-speaking citizens.

The United Kingdom, Greece and Turkey, guarantors of its independence in 1960 by treaty, rushed to its bedside. The last two were a little too violent, to the point of causing a split between the South and the North in 1974. On the maps, it then materialised in the form of a green line (the Atilla line for the Turks, named after their occupation force commander Attila Sav). This dematerialized zone is controlled by the Blue Helmets of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP - 904 men) created in 1964.
In February 1975, the "Turkish Federated State of Cyprus" was created. In 1983 it became the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), recognised only by Turkey.
At the origin of this push for separatism and of this 180 km long ceasefire line disguised as a "pseudo" border, there was friction throughout the 1960s between the two communities, which created sparks. Until the flare-up on 15 July 1974, when the authoritarian regime in Athens blew on the still smouldering embers with a coup d'état, via the National Guard, to replace the Cypriot President Makàrios III (Mikhaíl Khristodoúlou Moúskos, Archbishop and Primate of the Church of Cyprus) with one more favourable to the annexation of Cyprus by Greece.
A doctrine emanating from the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Enosis (from the Greek word for "Union") was born in 1878 during the British colonisation of Cyprus and aimed to reunite with Greece all the islands and regions where the Greeks were in the majority.

The counter-fire was lit by Turkey five days later. Using the terms of the Treaty of Guarantee to protect the interests of the Turkish minority, Ankara sent its army to invade the north of the island. This was the swan song of the colonels' dictatorship, as this crisis sealed its end and the arrival of a democratic regime.

But in Cyprus, the shockwave continued with, between 1974 and 1975, a criss-crossing between Greek Cypriots living (some 200,000) in the 37% of Cyprus now controlled by the Turks and Turkish Cypriots living in the other part. Not to mention those who have gone into exile in Great Britain and the arrival of Turkish settlers (93,000 counted in 2003) from Anatolia, in the north. These internal and external exoduses are still weighing on the negotiations with the problem of reparations and return.
Since then, and despite the condemnation by a UN resolution in November 1983, the North of the island is governed by the TNCR secured by the presence of 30,000 Turkish soldiers on its soil.

In 1977, the UN tried to initiate a political process which has since fizzled out. 2017 marked the last hope with unsuccessful talks (the sixth round).



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