These images all deal with Cyprus, which has become one of the largest obstacles on Turkey’s path to EU accession, especially after the accession of the Republic of Cyprus to the EU in 2004. Cyprus has a long history and has been controlled by many different powers, from the Byzantines, to the Crusaders, Venetians, Ottomans, and British. This historical diversity of control has led to Cyprus having a non-homogenous population in the modern day. Before the island was divided in the 1970s, the Cypriot population was largely Greek Cypriot, with pockets of Turkish Cypriots scattered across the whole island, as can be seen in the top-left image.
During the early days of its independence in the 1960s, the Cypriot government was supposed to implement a power-sharing plan, where Greek and Turkish Cypriots would both have power. However, the Greek Cypriots almost immediately began making changes to give themselves more power and exclude the Turkish Cypriots from the government. Many Greek Cypriots, including the EOKA-B, longed for enosis, or unification with mainland Greece. A coup in 1974 created the Hellenic Republic of Cyprus, with the goal of annexation by Greece. A few days later, Turkey invaded Cyprus in response to the coup, which had supposedly been supported by Greece, thus violating the Treaty of Guarantee, which prohibited such intervention. Turkish troops, like the ones in the bottom left image, eventually captured about one-third of the island and created a green line between the Turkish and Greek sections of the island. The Turks established the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus on their half of the island, which would later become the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
UN peacekeepers like those in the middle-left image have been present in Cyprus for decades. Before the coup and Turkish invasion, UN peacekeepers arrived to prevent violence after the implementation of the Akritas Plan in 1963, which removed all Turkish Cypriots from the government. Since the division of the island into the Greek Cypriot Republic of Cyprus in the south and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the UN has administered the buffer zone (shown in the two right images) between the two halves of the island.
Historically, travel between the Republic of Cyprus and TRNC has been extremely limited. In recent years, however, there has been an increase in Cypriots crossing over to the other side of the island. Some Greek Cypriots have begun to make claims on the property that they abandoned after the Turkish invasion forced them south in 1974.
Prior to the Republic of Cyprus’ EU accession in 2004, the EU required them to implement the Annan Plan to settle the dispute between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots. The plan would have created a federation, settled property claims (and compensated property owners), and demilitarized the island. In a referendum, the Turkish Cypriots approved the Annan Plan, while the Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected it. Because the referendum was conducted so close to the official EU accession date, the EU let Cyprus enter as a single unit, but with the acquis communautaire suspended in the north. In order for Turkey to join the EU, the Cyprus issue must first be fully and successfully dealt with.