Mediation Activities in Cyprus: In the Framework of UN, USA and UK


This study focuses on Cyprus and the Turkish-Greek conflict in the region, which has a very important place in strategic terms. Cyprus has entered into a various impasse in certain periods of history, and this impasse has engaged both international organizations and super-power states. In this study, he examined the mediation activities of the United Nations, America, and Britain in Cyprus. This article answers the question of how successful mediation activities in the region have been.

Keywords: cyprus conflict, mediation, turkey-greece problem, un, us, us


The pressure of the Greeks in Cyprus began to worsen the situation of the Turks. At this point, the Cyprus issue has been raised in Turkey and Cyprus has been accelerated support to Turkey. Greek Cypriots dreamed of mastering the island under the name of ENOSIS, while the Turkish Cypriots resisted it and started efforts towards TAKSIM to protect its political and administrative rights.

Cyprus has faced many problems that could be caused by these reasons. They could not solve these problems among themselves. This article discusses the countries that are involved in mediation to solve this problem and their success or failure. First of all, we should start with the definition of mediation. Then we will go through the question of what is the Cyprus problem and briefly touch on the history of the Cyprus problem. Several countries and individuals have acted as mediators to solve the Cyprus problem. We will examine them under the titles of USA, UN, AND UK. We will touch on important issues such as the Macmillan plan and the Annan plan. After all of this, we will discuss whether the mediators are successful or unsuccessful. if it fails, we will discuss the reasons for the failure in the conclusion section.

1. What is Mediation?

In the event of a state of discrepancy between States, to resolve a dispute between the parties; This is a method of resorting to the help of a third party that is not directly related to the dispute. The mediator is merely an adducting and contacting attribute. For this reason, there is no obligation to accept the solutions proposed by the mediator on the side of the parties to the dispute.

“The history and practice of diplomatic mediation is as long as the existence of conflicts and wars. It is also visible and present in most regions and cultures. Over time, mediation has become an integral part of the diplomatic institution, reflecting a set of norms, rules, and practices” (Karin Aggestam, 2016). 

Article 33:

“The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice” (UN).

2. The Cyprus Problem

The Cyprus problem is a political problem based took place between the Cyprus Republic, Greece, and Turkey on the island of Cyprus. In the aftermath of the Cyprus Convention, the British have increased clashes among the peoples with their colonization. The Turks who wanted the northern part of Cyprus and the Greeks who wanted enosis started to clash with each other. The British tied the issue to the “Greek-Turkish dispute”. On August 16, 1960, Cyprus won its independence by signing 3 agreements. These treaties Greece, Turkey, and the United Kingdom signed by the “Organization, Alliance and Guarantee” was the treaty.

The clashes on the island did not stop after the independence, and in 1963 the Turkish Cypriots withdrew from the island administration. In 1974, the political tensions between the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots increased sharply. With the support of the military junta in Greece, the ultranationalist Greeks against enosis in Cyprus made a coup. As a result, Turkey has organized operations in Cyprus. A political order came under the rule of the Turks in the north of the island. With these political events, the “Cyprus Problem” emerged today. In 1983, Turkey was declared a Turkish Cypriot community. Turkey recognized the independence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). Turkey is addressed to the Republic of Cyprus as the Greek Cypriot Administration. On May 13, 1984, the Security Council declared the declaration of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as a separatist movement. The United Nations and the Council of Europe described the situation as an occupation of Turkey.

3. United Nations

The clashes between the Turkish Cypriot and Greek people living on the island during the 1950s in Cyprus resulted in the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus, which in 1960 was the common constituent element of the two peoples. However, this Republic did not last long and the conflict between the two peoples started again at the end of 1963. Negotiations have continued since 1968 under the supervision of the international community.

The first inter-communal negotiations aimed at finding a solution to the Cyprus problem started in Beirut in June 1968, following an agreement reached after the Geçitkale attacks, where inter-communal conflicts intensified. A week later Rauf Denktaş and Glafcos Clerides met in Nicosia.

The negotiations ended on September 20, 1971, but the parties came together as a result of the efforts of the UN. Negotiations began with Greece, Turkey, and UN representatives. The talks lasted from June 8, 1972 to April 2, 1974. Clerides, Turkey’s Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit’s statement of “federation is the best solution for Cyprus” that criticized the direction of a total of 6 years by withdrawing from the negotiations ended without any results received this call. The clashes continued on the island while the negotiations were continuing. Thousands of Turkish Cypriots have been living in difficult conditions. The power struggle among the Greeks has also increased.

The foreign ministers of Greece, Turkey, and Britain on 25-30 July 1974 in Geneva have come together in Geneva, Switzerland. From the expansion of Turkey’s hand holding the earth summit, the Greek forces withdraw from settlements of Turkish, Greek, and Turkish Cypriots decided a conference with the participation of representatives of more regulation has increased in Geneva. Despite the agreement in the conference, where the existence of two autonomous administrations was accepted, the Greek National Guard Army (RMMO) did not withdraw from the areas it occupied. Following the failure of the Geneva Talks Turkey has completed the Peace Operation and the re-truce was declared on 16 August.

The UN Security Council convened after the declaration of the KTFD, on 12 March 1975, gave the UN Secretary-General the duty of Goodwill to resolve the problem. The inter-communal negotiations, which began in Vienna in April 1975 under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the UN, were once again discontinued at the end of the fifth round in February 1976. As a result of these interviews, the north of the island was actually Turkish, and the south was made up of Greek populations.

After the establishment of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus in 1983, negotiations began in New York on September 10, 1984, with the efforts of UN Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar. After 3 rounds of negotiations, Cuellar also submitted a document to the parties after receiving the final offers. Denktaş agreed to sign the document prepared by taking the opinions of both sides, but Kiprianu refused to sign the document.

The new UN Secretary-General Butros Gali, who was appointed in 1992, brought Denktaş and Vasiliu together in New York and presented a map of 28.2% of the land to the Turkish side. Denktaş rejected the map of Guzelyurt to the Greek Cypriots. After Denktaş stated that he could go down to a maximum of 29 percent, Gali presented the solution plan called Ideas Series. Since the parties are in disagreement on key issues, efforts to bring the views closer have been abandoned.

In December 1999, indirect negotiations with the new UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in New York continued in Geneva. The UN is primarily concerned with the four main elements of a possible settlement in Cyprus; government, constitution, land, and security issues to be addressed. The Turkish delegation, who argued that the issues were not the only ones, focused on the embargo and the equal status applied to the TRNC. The Greek delegation, which proposed to leave 24 percent of the land to the Turks, highlighted the federation model and the withdrawal of Turkish soldiers from the island. It was not concluded in these negotiations.

UN Secretary-General Annan has prepared a plan. The Annan Plan is the United Nations plan, which proposes the unification of the island of Cyprus divided into Turkish and Greek sections as an independent state. The plan envisaged the unification of the island of Cyprus, with the exception of the British base, to be an independent and federal state. According to the plan, at least one-third of the ministries in the United Cyprus Republic would be Turks. The presidency and the prime minister’s offices would change hands every 10 months between Turks and Greeks. In April 2004, the referendum held in the TRNC and the Greek Cypriot, which was approved by the Turkish Cypriots in 64.91% of the votes, could not be realized as 75.38% of the Greek vote was rejected.

“A concerted Greek Cypriot nationalist campaign blocked the Annan Plan, however, leaving UN and EU personnel furious. International mediation, its assumptions of give and take according to an incentive structure within the framework of a now revised form of territorial statehood, appeared ineffective” (Oliver P Richmond, 2018).

4. The United States and Cyprus

The United States undertook to mediate this conflict many times. We evaluated the most important of these two. These are the events of 1964 and the S-300 crisis.

4.1. Event of 1964

The main goal of US foreign policy towards Cyprus in early 1964 was to ensure that the conflict between the indigenous Greek and Turkish communities did not cause a larger war. The second goal was that there would be no long-term political disorder

For the US, these two countries were very important for the containment strategy and the internal power of NATO. For the United States, therefore, it was necessary to prevent a Greek-Turkish war and to ensure peace in order for the negotiations to resolve matters for all and at once and to eliminate a situation that the USSR could benefit from.

Turkey decided to intervene. Johnson Letter is written to Turkey’s Prime Minister Ismet Inonu. In this article, US President Lyndon B. Johnson strictly prohibited the use of US military equipment for intervention in Cyprus. Cyprus crisis in 1964 was a serious test for the United States. The US was passed it. A war between Greece and Turkey were obtained without the use of any US troops or financial resources. In this context, US mediation in the 1964 crisis is considered successful.

“As Washington expected, Johnson’s letter stopped the invasion in its tracks. Lasting damage, though, had been done to Turkish-American relations by the exceedingly blunt language of the ultimatum. In his commentary on the reception of the letter in Ankara, Ambassador Hare remarked that by yielding to American demands, in the face of strong pressure from the Turkish foreign office and military, Inonu had placed himself in a very vulnerable position” (Brands, 1987).

4.2. S-300 Crisis

The Greek Cypriot side got the S-300 missiles from Russia in 1997. The Greek Cypriot side declared that the missiles were for defense purposes to protect Greek Cypriots from future Turkish enlargement. The US State Department said the decision “brought a new and stabilizing element” and “this new missile system threatens to bring the weapons in Cyprus to a new and disturbing quality level”. This event made it much more difficult for any mediation effort.

On January 20, in retaliation for the decision of the Greek Cypriot, Rauf Denktaş and President of Turkey Suleyman Demirel signed declared a common defense, indicating that Cyprus’s guaranteed. The two leaders, any attack on Turkey and the TRNC will be considered as an attack on the base in South Cyprus will be held in Greece mobilized with the northern movement of any similar activities were also added.

From the USA’s point of view, the deployment of missiles would harm Cyprus’ security and the missiles were so effective that the Turks were worried, but not as effective as to prevent a Turkish invasion. In order to reach a solution, Richard Holbrooke was appointed by President Clinton as Special Representative for Cyprus.

“Holbrooke’s plan that rested on mutual recognition of the parties’ sovereignty was doomed to fail because it would mean recognition of the TRNC, which Greek Cypriots try to avoid at all costs. Thus, US mediation hit the same wall as UN mediation does; conceptions of sovereignty” (Müftüler-Baç, 1999).

Finally, Greece and Cyprus made an agreement. Greece would own the S-300 but did not deploy it. Greece was to store it in a hangar on the island of Crete in the south of the Aegean Sea. So, Cyprus got missiles, Russia took the money, but the system was not deployed and remained closed in Greece for years.

Though the current US administration’s policy towards Cyprus seems to resemble the previous tripartite US policy of supporting (a) a solution in line with UN Resolutions, (b) Cyprus’s membership of the EU and (c) Turkey’s membership of the EU, the USA will be unable to mediate in a future crisis since the Bush administration seems to have neither the necessary leverage nor the requisite legitimacy – to say nothing of trust –(Aylin Güney, 2004).

5. The United Kingdom and Cyprus

Britain has been involved in various mediation activities to prevent conflict on the island. The most important one was the Macmillan Plan. Macmillan was the British Prime Minister and the person who took the title of mediator in Cyprus.

5.1. Macmillan Plan

British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan is the guarantor powers proposed plan in 1958. In general, the plan highlights the following:

  • prosperity and peace for the island and Greece will act based on a participation and cooperation turkey.
  • “A representative democratic government system will be built on the island, where both communities are independent in their internal affairs. The position of the country in the international arena will be maintained for seven years.
  • The governor or the governor of the island, who will serve at the end of the negotiations with the representatives of the Greek and Turkish governments, is obliged to act in the interests of both communities.”

The Greek side immediately rejected this plan, claiming that the Turks would recognize. Macmillan had to make some arrangements in favour of the Greeks in the plan.

Greece rejected the plan. Turkey has accepted. Britain, on the other hand, announced that in order to minimize the massacres of the Turks in a possible civil war, the plan is to support several changes to be made by Greece and the Greek Cypriot side. 

“Fear of partition along communal lines led the Greek Cypriots to embrace independence in place of enosis, and their rejection of the Macmillan Plan thus paved the way for the Zurich–London accords in which Turkey, Greece, and Britain imposed a power-sharing constitution on the Cypriots in 1959. This agreement precluded both enosis and taksim and challenged the Cypriots to leave the past and their ethnic identities behind in order to work together cooperatively – a challenge that fell largely on deaf ears” (Fisher, 2001).

6. Conclusion 

The Cyprus problem is a political problem based took place between the Cyprus Republic and Turkey in the island of Cyprus. Greeks in Cyprus wanted enosis in the geography. The Turks demanded TAKSIM. The Greek Cypriots launched armed attacks against the Turkish Cypriots in 1963. These attacks were named Bloody Christmas. It is accepted as the beginning of inter-communal conflicts on the island. From this date onwards, 2 sides have experienced continuous conflicts and they have tried to reach a solution. Mediator countries have participated in this conflict and established various dialogues to reach a solution. Countries and institutions such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and the United Nations have been involved in this case.

They have played an important role in two issues in US 1964 events and the issue of S-300 After the events of 1964, the Turks began to take some measures to protect their people. America did not want the Turks to occupy Cyprus. For the US, these two countries were very important for the containment strategy and the internal power of NATO. For this reason, the United States had to prevent a Greek-Turkish war and ensure peace in order to eliminate a situation that the USSR could exploit. Johnson wrote a letter to Inonu to prevent the Turkish movement. According to this letter, Turks could not use NATO ammunition to fight. This resulted in a positive for America and did not come out of the war.

The Greek Cypriot side received an S-300 missile from Russia in 1997. This has made any attempt to mediate much more difficult. For the preparation of a solution, Richard Holbrooke was appointed Cyprus Special Representative by President Clinton. Holbrooke’s plan, based on the sovereignty of the parties, was condemned to failure. In the end, he made a deal in Greece and Cyprus. Greece will have the S-300 but will not deploy it. Greece was to hide in a hangar on the island of Crete in the south of the Aegean Sea. Cyprus received missiles, Russia won the money, but the system was not deployed and remained closed in Greece for years.

Although in its own interest, America tried to mediate in Cyprus. In two cases, the American is considered successful. Because America did not want to compromise its containment policy. He was trying to prevent a possible war. They were mediators, successfully managing the events of 1964 and the S300 crisis, and preventing the war from happening. Russia, by selling S300, could not turn this conflict in favour of the Mediterranean.

Since 1968 in Cyprus negotiations are being held between the Turkish Cypriot and the Greek Cypriot people to put an end to the division on the island. There are ongoing negotiations on the UN mediation so that the parties cannot find a solution. In the ongoing negotiations within the framework of the UN’s goodwill efforts, it is seen that the parties acted in particular within the framework of sovereignty and that they have opposite ideas in other sub-headings such as ownership and guarantors. For this reason, no results can be obtained from the negotiations for 50 years.

The UN, which played a mediating role in the negotiations, could not play a catalytic role in the solution, although it was a coercive and intrusive attitude by overcoming the Goodwill mission, as in the Annan Plan period. As the negotiating methods, the two sides are trying to hold together at the negotiation table under the umbrella of the federation and they are successful in this. However, they cannot ensure that the parties find their opinions and a final solution. The UN is insufficient for the Cyprus problem and has not reached a solution. Annan is very close to solving this, but she has not succeeded.

Greece rejected the Macmillan plan. Turkey has accepted. The non-acceptance of the Macmillan plan was related to ethnic groups. The Macmillan plan did not make a positive contribution to mediation work. Ethnic differences prevented it.

In fact, no mediation work has been successful. The reason for the success of America is that it intimidates the countries with sanctions. The reason why mediation works cannot find any answer is because it does not give up its independence and ideals in two countries.

Metehan Övüt

Uluslararası Örgütler Staj Programı


Aggestam, K. (2016). Diplomatic mediation. In C. Constantinou & P. Kerr & P. Sharp The SAGE Handbook of diplomacy. (pp. 220-230). SAGE Publications.

U.N. Charter, art. 5.

Fisher, R. (2001). Cyprus: The Failure of Mediation and the Escalation of an Identity-Based Conflict to an Adversarial Impasse. Journal of Peace Research, 38(3), 307-326.

Güney, A. (2004). The USA’s Role in Mediating the Cyprus Conflict: A Story of Success or Failure? Security Dialogue35(1), 27–42.

Brands, H. (1987). America Enters the Cyprus Tangle, 1964. Middle Eastern Studies, 23(3), 348-362.

Müftüler-Baç, M. (1999). The Cyprus debacle: what the future holds. Futures, 31(6), 559–575.

Richmond, O. P. (2018). A genealogy of mediation in international relations: From “analogue” to “digital” forms of global justice or managed war? Cooperation and Conflict, 53(3), 301–319.

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