CYPRUS an Overview By Ioanna Solomou Associate at Michael Kyprianou
Cyprus carries with it great and long history, with tracks of civilization as of the 9th millennium BC. The island has been a prey for a number of other civilizations throughout the centuries due not only to its geographical location, being place at the crossroads of three continents (Europe, Asia and Africa) but also due to the natural wealth of the island itself. The island is a meeting point of multiple civilizations and has for centuries developed its own character and its people take pride in their heritage and background.
Subject to the country’s constitution as this was signed in 1960 the country is an independent sovereign Republic with a presidential system. The country’s president, as elected, has the executive powers. The president is the head of state and government. According to the Constitution’s provisions the executive powers would be exercised jointly by the President and the Vice – President for a term of office for 5 years. The Vice President is a seat that should have been have been held by a Turkish Cypriot however this seat remains vacant since 1964, due to a refusal of the Turkish Cypriot leadership to participate in the Republic since then. It is for the same reason the ministries and public service positions allocated to Turkish Cypriots are, out of necessity, held now by Greek Cypriots.
The island was invaded in the summer of 1974 by Turkish troops. The invasion took place on two consecutive instances. On 20 July 1974, massive Turkish military forces violating the UN Charter and fundamental principles of international law, invaded the island, after unfortunate internal disputes within the Government. The pretext of the invasion was a coup against the elected President of Cyprus at the time, which was instigated by the military junta ruling Greece. The second part of the invasion took place a few days later on the 14th of August 1974. Despite calls by the UN Security Council, Turkey seized 36,2% of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Cyprus and forcibly divided the country along ethnic lines, the so called “green line”. Since then the Cypriot issue remains unresolved with Nicosia, the capital city, being the last European capital divided; whereby Turkish military still illegally and against all calls of international law and order request for the immediate seize of the country’s illegal occupation.
On the 1st of May 2004, and despite its distinctive problem, Cyprus, in its totality became a full member of the European Union. It also joined the Eurozone on the 1st of January 2008. The country’s area not occupied by the Turkish troops, enjoys peace and has over the years developed to the extent of making Cyprus a powerful economy with well-developed infrastructures, being focused on the development of the services sector and act as a hub of business serving as an international business centre.
The country’s economy is generally identified as free, open and dynamic. Even though it is a small economy it has managed to sustain over a number of hurdles burdening the worldwide economy. The country’s main power force is the services sector. It is important to note that the country’s accession to the EU in 2004 has transformed the economic landscape. Interest rates have been liberalized, structural reforms have been promoted and the island’s financial and business sectors have evolved.
The island’s private sector is dominated by small and medium sized enterprises. The concept of competition and the respect of it are heavily engraved in the market. The government’s role is to support the private sector and assist in the smooth operation of the market with the purpose of offering economic stability and favorable business conditions.
Even though the country’s economy has been impacted heavily due to the recession in 2013, the country has rapidly exceeded expectations and is now on the upturn of evolution and expansion.
The country is a member of the Eurozone and thus Euro is its official currency.
Cyprus offers an enviable lifestyle on high standards in a safe, clean and healthy environment enjoying excellent weather as a Mediterranean island. The country enjoys low crime levels, safety, high cultural events, a delicious gastronomy and hospitable inhabitants. Its beauty can be seen not only in its people but also in its natural beauty not limited to golden sandy beaches and clear blue waters but also breath taking views from the highest tops of green lines filled with rare flora and fauna.
Leisure and business can be combined in Cyprus as a widely recognized centre of professional services offering first tear professional and high – quality services.
Although it was a British colony, its EU accession has allowed Cyprus to enjoy benefits of both worlds whereby it combines the positives of the common law system along with the safety offered by the European Union.