Cyprus to form united army if peace deal reached

Greek Cypriot Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaidis says Cyprus will form a united army including Turkish Cypriots if a peace deal to end division on the island is reached.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated May 12, 2016

A united army comprising of ethnic Greeks and Turks could soon be formed in the divided eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus.

Cyprus has been divided since July 1974, following a coup on the government by the Greek military junta in a bid to cede the island to Greece.

The coup prompted Turkey, a legal guarantor of peace on the island, to intervene. Over four decades on, negotiations have failed to end the dispute.

But renewed talks under Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akinci and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades has breathed new life into a region often troubled by ethnic and sectarian tensions.

Progress in the latest round of talks have raised hopes of a possible peace deal as early as late this year.

However, that begs the question… what would a reunited Cyprus look like? This is particularly an issue of uncertainty regarding the makeup of the island’s reformed security forces.

Alleviating some concerns, Greek Cypriot Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaidis recently spoke to local media in Greece, saying that the island’s armed forces will be comprised of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

According to Fokaides, the new system will also see the lifting of mandatory military service, and the army would consist only of professional soldiers.  

The internationally recognised Republic of Cyprus was founded in 1960 after 82 years of British rule. At the time, the newly formed independent government and security forces was comprised of Cypriots from both communities.

But, after just three years, Turkish Cypriots were forced out of the parliament after Greek Cypriot lawmakers sought to curb their rights.

In 1983, Turkish Cypriots declared the independence of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, which is only recognised by Turkey.