Beginning with independence, Cypriots saw their problem on several levels. First and foremost, it was an intercommunal problem that required local, domestic political solutions. Next, and very close to this level, was the relationship of the island to its motherlands, Greece and Turkey; the two Cypriot communities struggled with the question of how much their foreign policies should be determined by the foreign policy interests and resources of the motherlands. At another level, many Cypriots considered their island a pawn in the superpower struggle, often exaggerating its strategic significance. Because the two motherlands, Greece and Turkey, were North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members, Cyprus was by definition a problem within the Western camp, a circumstance the Soviet Union and its allies, during the Cold War, occasionally sought to exploit. As a response to these constricting relationships, Cypriot foreign policy was nonaligned, and both communities found support among Third World countries for whom the Cyprus problem resonated with their own problems, be it the matter of a larger nearby state occupying territory of a smaller one, or the matter of a religious minority suffering discrimination at the hands of the majority.
Cyprus's relations with the outside world were shaped profoundly by the chronic dilemma of the island's political identity. The two communities conducted narrow foreign policies focused on this single issue. Yet the Republic of Cyprus conducted active and effective diplomatic efforts in many countries to win support for its position in UN settlement talks and in support of sympathetic resolutions in multilateral forums of which Cyprus was a member. The "TRNC" by the mid-1980s tried to break out of its isolation and began to conduct its own foreign policy, in some ways mirroring the efforts of its Greek Cypriot neighbors. Recognition as a state was the primary foreign policy objective of the regime in the north. Foreign policy in general was considerably more important for the republic; the "TRNC" was persuaded that its cause would benefit from "benign neglect" by the world community, allowing the two communities to develop normal relations without external pressure.
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