Government and Politics - Background
The Republic of Cyprus was created in 1960 through international agreements reached in Zurich and London in February 1959, with a constitution that went into effect in August 1960. The constitution recognized the strong bicommunal character of the new state, with elaborate safeguards for the minority Turkish Cypriot community. In the preindependence debate over the governmental structure of the new state, neither Britain nor the Turkish Cypriot community accepted the concept of "minority rights" as an organizing principle. Rather, the Turkish Cypriots were recognized as one of two "communities" with certain rights; the legitimacy of the state would derive from the partnership between the two communities. The Cypriot consociational experiment had some unique features designed to achieve a delicate balance between the prevailing Greek Cypriot preference for a unitary state and the Turkish Cypriot desire for as much recognition as a separate political entity as possible. The tension between these two communal priorities proved insurmountable.
Since 1964, the constitution of 1960 has not been the legal document governing relations between the two communities, although it remains the basis of government and law for the 80 percent of the population that are Greek Cypriot and residing in the twothirds of the island controlled by the authorities of the Republic of Cyprus. The "TRNC" approved a new constitution in 1985, which established a parliamentary system in the north.
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