Cyprus

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1. Introduction

A. History And Background

An independent and sovereign Republic of Cyprus (Cyprus) came into being in 1960, following several decades as a British colony. Early and persistent tension between the Greek Cypriot majority and Turkish Cypriot minority culminated in violence, leading to deployment of UN troops in 1963 and the establishment of enclaves of Turkish Cypriots. In 1974, a coup attempt, sponsored by the Greek government, led to Turkish military action. Turkey's intervention gave rise to occupation and control of a third of the island in the north. A prolonged stalemate between the two sides continues, though the UN has repeatedly tried to bring about rapprochement.

Cyprus, comprising the entire island, entered the European Union (EU) on 1 May 2004.

Cyprus is the third-largest island in the Mediterranean, and is located in the Levant, about 40 miles south of Turkey's southern coast. The population is estimated to be just fewer than 800,000 and the area is approximately 900,000 square kilometres. Security is complemented by British sovereign bases on the island, which constitute 99 square miles of British territory.

Tourism and financial services dominate Cyprus's economy. The government is promoting Cyprus as an international financial centre through the negotiation of bilateral tax agreements and membership of the EU.

The currency is the euro (EUR).

B. Legal System

Cyprus has a written constitution incorporating separation of powers as well as fundamental and embedded articles that neither the President nor the unicameral legislature, nor any other Cypriot office, may change. One such embedded article deals with fundamental rights and liberties (and obligations), which are afforded to all persons, not just Cypriots.

The constitution is the highest legal authority and no other law may contradict it. The level below the constitution comprises international agreements, conventions and treaties, including the EU's Treaty of Accession and numerous double tax treaties. These override national statute law if there is conflict.

Statutory law is a combination of the legislature's laws and British colonial regulations. In addition, statute law directs the courts to follow English civil and criminal jurisprudence in place just before independence, including the rules of equity, where appropriate.

Cyprus has an independent judiciary comprising a supreme court and several kinds of subordinate courts.

Owing to the withdrawal of the Turkish Cypriots from the political process, and the Turkish occupation of the northern part of the island, there are some exceptional constitutional cases where the doctrine of necessity has been applied.

Editorial Board
Mark Ashley Bruce-Smith TEP
London Trust Limited, Nicosia, Cyprus

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