By and large invisible on many maps and unknown to many travelers, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) sits in political limbo on the island wholly refereed to as “Cyprus”. You won’t find many travel guides to this de facto nation; unrecognized by every country in the world except Turkey, 50 kilometers off the island’s coast.
A few failed peace plans, 30,000 troops, and more than 34 years after a Turkish-lead military incursion in response to a failed Greek coup d’etat, this growing holiday destination is seeing travel unravel its immobility.
In Pieces Since The 2004 Shot A Peace
You can go before 2004 and catch up with a quick background and TRNC travel guide, but that’s the year when Cyprus got its closest chance for a resolution. A plan that would allow both sides to operate together under a unified federation was sent to referendum. The Turkish Cypriots in the north voted in favor of the (Annan) plan while the Greek south voted against the proposal.
Not much has happened politically since then in terms of a permanent plan but the booming tourism industry there has many of younger generation wondering how their future got so far off track.
Dependencies Without Power
The TRNC is heavily dependent on Turkey for financial aid, around $600 million dollars a year because its diplomatic status prevents most international commerce. The Turkish military is ever present in the form of troops, signs, and slogans – now, many young Turkish Cypriots voice their frustrations at not being in control of their destiny. Angry at being put in the undefined position they find themselves in without anyone to turn to or away from.
It’s strange to see discontent in places like Girne’s booming harbor, with casinos full down the road, in a place that sees 500,000 tourists a year. The tensions aren’t those that travelers will notice in the sights but perhaps the words of a good conversation with locals fueled by halloumi (Cypriot cheese) with a splash of Turkish raki.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is a much less expensive alternative for travelers than the Greek south, or at least makes good combination for all that is Cyprus. Stuck in a struggle less with its neighbors and more with itself, North Cyprus’ fine stretches of Mediterranean coast, unique Lebanese-reminiscent cuisine, and multiplying hostels make it an attractive place for travelers; aiding the only independent international industry the north will have for the foreseeable future.
[second photo by: whl.travel (Cypriot appetizers)]
Cyprus (both sides) is definitely on our immediate radar – contending with a couple of other places. From reading news articles, I feel like something will change with the whole island sooner rather than later – good change. So sayeth the eternal optimist in me! 🙂
I’m less optimistic but wish at least the EU embargo were lifted. It only punishes the people in the north, I’m not sure what that accomplishes.
A nice place to visit but that humidity…will need extra Efes to combat it!
It will be interesting to see how all this will work out when (and I do think it’s a question of when, not if) Turkey joins the EU.
I can’t imagine the EU is a real possibility for Turkey within the next 20 years so I think a solution for Cyprus will come sooner. The Cyprus issue is a major roadblock for Turkey’s EU entry but since the referendum in 2004 there haven’t been many moves forward. With most people and politicians in Turkey now against EU membership (and angered by the embargo which was to be eased) that card is a weak one now.
A lot of the ex pats from here often go to the north of Cyprus and all of them say wonderful things about it. Very often what we see as tourists though and what the locals think are two different things. I think that within the next five years, something will change with Northern Cyprus. Hopefully it will be peaceful changes.
Azerbaijan has begun direct flights now to the north; I suspect one potential avenue for change will be countries in the east (Syria, Azerbaijan, etc.) that have already opened travel routes to formally recognize the north.
I hope that the problem can be resolved soon and amicably. I am old enough to remember the tense times of the past on the daily news. Perhaps tourism might help. It is proven time and time again, whatever nationality we are, most people simply want a good life and prospects for their children. If they are achieved then there is less disagreement.
A friend of mine who knows the south well, having visited many times, finally went to the north a few years back and was absolutely bowled over. She loved it and found it suited her much better than the south.
Cyprus is one of those political situations with many avenues for solution but nearly as many people who benefit from the conflict and try to keep it in play. You’re right, the only people who lose out are those living a regular life; particularly in the north where more than 50% of the economic support is from Turkey.
How absolutely fascinating- I NEVER knew this republic existed!! Thank you for this geography lesson…wld love to go and visit!
I’m not surprised, it’s not “officially” there!