Representatives of JUF's Jewish Community Relations Council joined the Armenian, Assyrian and Hellenic communities for a July 17 briefing on the most recent attempts to end the 43-year Turkish occupation of Cyprus. The Hellenic American Leadership Council held the meeting, which was hosted by HALC Executive Director Endy Zemenides and Andrea Petrányi, the political counselor of the Embassy of Cyprus.
The Republic of Cyprus is an island nation in the Eastern Mediterranean, 293 miles off the Eastern coast of Israel. Cyprus was under Ottoman rule from 1571-1914, until the British colonized the island. A majority of its population consisted of people of Greek descent with an 18 percent minority population of Turks.
In 1974, Turkish forces invaded Cyprus and took over the northern third of the island. Today, 40,000 Turkish troops occupy northern Cyprus, and despite many international diplomatic negotiations under the United Nations, no attempts to reunify the country have been successful.
Both Cyprus and Greece have become strong partners of Israel, particularly in security cooperation. Economically, Cyprus and Israel are working together on gas exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean. These proven reserves, along with those of Egypt, could substantially improve the economies of Egypt, Cyprus and Lebanon along with Israel and Jordan. The continued failure to reach an agreement with Turkey to reunify Cyprus has been an impediment to the region's economic advancement.
Meredith Leon is JUF's Lewis Summer Intern in Public Affairs.