Ulster Logo
Link to facebook  Link to INCOREinfo on twitter  Link to INCORE rss feed    Linkedin link Linkedin link

The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1999, Vol. 2 No. 1 .

Keith Kyle

(London: Minority Rights Group, 1997).
40pp. Bibl. Pb.: ISBN 1-897-693-915.

Of all the world's protracted social conflicts, Cyprus is a byword in protractedness and intractability. It is the classic case of a conflict 'frozen' by a peace-keeping operation, where the parties apparently have little incentive to deal with one another and remain locked in their conflict configuration. While other intractable conflicts such as Northern Ireland and Israel-Palestine have undergone significant transformations since the end of the Cold War, the Cyprus problem remains stubbornly unresolvable.

Keith Kyle's report for the Minority Rights Group offers a chronologically organized analysis of the conflict, going from before independence to mid-1997. He charts the breakdown of the constitution in 1964, to the military coup in Greece and the overthrow of Makarios in 1974, the Turkish decision to invade, the segregation of the island into two ethnic zones, and the establishment by the Turkish side of a 'Republic of North Cyprus' in 1983. He reviews the diplomatic efforts at a settlement which have on occasion (1981) been close to agreement and have identified (in the UN's Set of Idea) the main contours of a settlement, but repeatedly foundered over the Greek Cypriot insistence on unity and the Turkish Cypriot demand for independence. The author shows that there have been significant shifts and transformations over time in the conflict, even though the two sides appear to be locked in stasis.

A number of current developments are bringing the conflict back into the headlines. Kyle analyses the impact on the conflict of the (Greek) Cypriot government's application to join the EU, the increased military tensions in the Aegean between Greece and Turkey, the offer of air defence missiles by Russia to the (Greek) Cypriot government, and the Turkish threat to prevent these missiles from being delivered. He reports the increased tensions after the televised killing of a Greek Cypriot tearing down a Turkish flag after an attempt by demonstrators to break across the border.

This is a fine historical survey in the MRG style, with the emphasis firmly on historical and diplomatic developments. There is no attempt to use ethnic conflict theory or to discuss the visceral attitudes on both sides which underpin the stasis (for this, see Volkan, 'Neighbours in Conflict'). Nevertheless, it can be strongly recommended. Clearly presented, informative and impartial, it is an ideal introductory survey for anyone unfamiliar with the history, or in need of an up to date review of recent events.

Hugh Miall, University of Lancaster

Disclaimer: © INCORE 2010 Last Updated on Monday, 10-Aug-2015 12:20
contact usgoto the search page
go to the top of this page