As a strategic location in the Middle East, Cyprus has a very historic past and has been colonized and ruled by many great powers of the world, including the empires of the Assyrians, Egyptians, and Persians, from whom Alexander the Great seized the island in 333 BC. Subsequent rule by Ptolemaic Egypt, the Roman Empire, the Byzantines, Arab caliphates for a short period, the French Lusignan Dynasty, and the Venetians, was followed by the Ottoman conquest in 1571. It remained under Ottoman control for over three centuries. Cyprus was placed under British Administration in 1878 until it was granted independence in 1960 (unified Government of Cyprus formed between Turkish and Greek Cypriots). In 1963, Greeks attacked their Turkish counterparts in an effort to eliminate the Turkish citizens from the Island. Greeks and Turks fought a long war until 1974, when Republic of Turkey intervened and joined forces with the Turkish Cypriots to fight back the Greek Cypriots and the Greek administration.
In 1975, the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus was declared as a first step towards a future federated Cypriot state, but was rejected by the Republic of Cyprus, the United Nations (UN) and the international community. After eight years of failed negotiations with the leadership of the Greek Cypriot community, the North declared its independence on 15 November 1983 under the name of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). The UN and the Republic of Cyprus rejected this unilateral declaration of independence. Greek Cypriots rejected the proposal by 76%, while 65% of the Turkish Cypriots accepted it.
In recent years, the politics of reunification between TRNC and Republic of Cyprus has dominated the island’s affairs. The European Union decided in 2000 to accept Cyprus as a member, even if it was divided. This was due to their view of Rauf Denktash, the pro-independence Turkish Cypriot President, as the main stumbling block, but also due to Greece threatening to block eastern EU expansion. It was hoped that Cyprus’s planned accession into the European Union would act as a catalyst towards a settlement. In the time leading up to Cyprus becoming a member, a new government was elected in Turkey and Rauf Denktash lost political power in Cyprus. In 2004, a United Nations–brokered peace settlement was presented in a referendum to both sides. The president of Republic of Cyprus, Tassos Papadopoulos, and Turkish Cypriot (TRNC) president Rauf Denktash in the referendum opposed the proposed settlement, a majority of Turkish Cypriots accepted the proposal, but Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected it. As a result, Cyprus entered the European Union divided, with the effects of membership suspended for Northern Cyprus.
Denktaş resigned in the wake of the vote, ushering in the pro-solutionist Mehmet Ali Talat as his successor. However, the pro-solutionist side and Mehmet Ali Talat lost momentum due to the ongoing embargo and isolation, despite promises from the European Union that these would be eased.
As a result, Northern Cyprus remained under the same name as Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC). The direct talks between two communities started again on September 3rd 2008, with the leaders from both sides working towards agreement on the establishment of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation in which the communities would enjoy political equality. The negotiations are still continuing with the supervision of United Nations. Currently the President of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is Mustafa Akıncı and the Prime-Minister is Tufan Erhürman.