Cyprus Democracy and Rights

Cyprus Crime Rate & StatisticsDemocracy and rights

The human rights situation is relatively good in the Greek Cypriot part of Cyprus, although there are some shortcomings in the rights of refugees. However, these are violated to a greater extent in the northern Turkish Cypriot area, where there are also restrictions on freedom of expression, media and religion. Both parts of Cyprus are governed by democratic forms.

In the internationally recognized Greek Cypriot regime, there are many parties that can operate freely, electoral laws are fair and general elections are held at regular intervals. Only those Turkish Cypriots who are permanently resident in southern Cyprus are allowed to vote in the elections. Freedom of association and assembly is guaranteed by legislation and is generally respected by government and authorities.

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Even in the northern Turkish Cypriot parts, general elections are held that are considered free and properly implemented. According to human rights organizations, there are problems on human trafficking and violations of refugees’ rights especially on the Turkish Cypriot side.

Women are underrepresented in both government and parliament in both the Cypriot areas.

Corruption is a problem in both southern and northern Turkish Cypriot parts of Cyprus. The Greek Cypriot part was characterized by corruption scandals linked to high-ranking officials and politicians during the second half of the 2010s. Among other things, a former Deputy Minister of Justice was sentenced to a three-year prison sentence for receiving bribes. In local government, bribery has also been a problem in recent years. Transparency International ranked Cyprus (the Greek Cypriot part) in position 38 in 2019 based on perceived corruption in 180 of the world’s countries.

Freedom of expression and media

In both parts of Cyprus there is a fairly outspoken press, but the media climate is harsher in the Turkish Cypriot north than in the Greek Cypriot south.
Cyprus (the Greek Cypriot part) has slipped downwards in recent years on the Reporters Without Borders list of press freedom, from 16th place in 2012 to 28th seven years later.

The Constitution guarantees freedom of expression in and is generally respected, even on the Internet. However, there are some cases of self-censorship, among other things, with regard to media reporting on the Cyprus issue.

Judicial system and legal security

According to the constitution in the Greek Cypriot part, the judiciary must have an independent position. Also in the Turkish Cypriot part there are laws that guarantee the rule of law.

The death penalty is prohibited throughout Cyprus which is abbreviated as CYP by Abbreviationfinder.

The conditions in prisons, both in southern and northern Cyprus, are poor and do not meet international requirements.



Meeting between north and south

President Anastasiadis meets Turkish Cypriot leader Eroğlu. The meeting is described as an attempt to “purify the air”, after the peace process has been stationary for more than a year and a half. The only result seems to be an agreement that the negotiating delegations should try to formulate a joint statement on what the purpose of any resumed peace negotiations should be.

Law on reduced rents gets rejected

Parliament is tearing up a recently passed law that would have forced property owners to cut rents by 15-20 percent for one year. The law had been rejected by the president as unconstitutional because it violated the right to freely terminate financial agreements. The law was part of the efforts to mitigate the consequences for the public of the austerity measures that the country was forced into in the loan agreement with the EU, IMF and ECB (see March 2013).


Warning for new hard savings

Finance Minister Charis Georgiadis says that tough savings in the state budget for 2014 will lead to a deficit of 7 percent of GDP, significantly better than the 8.25 percent deficit set by the EU and the IMF.

Christofia’s government is blamed for the crisis

A commission of inquiry holds former President Dimitris Christofias and his government responsible for Cyprus’s precarious economic situation. The commission, made up of three lawyers appointed by the current center-right government, accuses Christofias of having ignored all warnings about Cyprus’s deteriorating economy and the consequences his decision could have. Christofias refused to testify before the Commission, whose report has no legal bearing. The prosecutor has to decide whether to initiate a criminal investigation against the former president.


Cyprus is approved for a new payment

Eurozone finance ministers believe that Cyprus, through its new laws, has met the requirements to receive the payment of 1.5 billion euros.

New laws are enacted

The Greek Cypriot Parliament adopts twelve laws required for the EU and the IMF to continue to pay aid to Cyprus. The most important issue is a payment of EUR 1.5 billion. Among other things, a comprehensive restructuring of the banking system is approved, which means that the state takes over 99 percent of the shares in the cooperative banks. The new laws also include stricter measures against money laundering.

New government in Northern Cyprus

After more than a month of negotiations, Northern Cyprus gets a new government consisting of CTP and DP. New Prime Minister is CTP’s Özkan Yorgancıoğlu.


Energy agreement with Greece and Israel

Cyprus, Greece and Israel sign a Declaration of Intent on joint work on energy production and water supply.

Prison for ex-minister

Former Defense Minister Kostas Papakostas is sentenced to five years in prison as responsible for the explosions in a weapons supply in July 2011. The explosions killed 13 people and knocked out the country’s largest power plant. Crime reclassification is death and willful to another’s death through neglect. Three chiefs at the emergency services are sentenced to two years in prison each. The then Foreign Minister and Deputy Chief of the National Guard are acquitted.


Roll victory for the left in the north

The left-wing CTP clearly wins in the Northern Cyprus parliamentary elections, but is forced to cooperate with some bourgeois party to gain a majority in parliament. CTP gets 21 out of 50 seats against 14 for UBP and 12 for DP. A smaller left part gets three seats. The turnout is about 70 percent.

Opens up for casino operations

The government decides to open a new tourist center with casinos in an attempt to attract investors and tourists. The hope is that gambling will strengthen the country’s economy. Parliament will consider the matter after its opening in September.


The government of Northern Cyprus is falling

The Turkish Cypriot government resigns after losing a vote of no confidence in Parliament. The issue concerned the government’s economic policy and a contentious privatization program. Prime Minister İrsen Küçük submits his resignation application after eight members of his party moved to the opposition. An expedition minister led by Sibel Siber from the CTP is taking over the government until the parliamentary elections in late July. Siber is the first female government head of the Turkish Cypriots.


The first payments are made

Cyprus receives the first EUR 10 billion emergency loan repayments. 2 billion come from the EU’s new European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and from the IMF around 830 million euros.

Russia extends maturity on loans

Russia agrees to extend the maturity of the EUR 2.5 billion loan to Cyprus by two years and to lower the interest rate.


The crisis package is approved by Parliament

The Chancellor of Justice states that the new crisis package must also be approved by Parliament. In the April 30 vote, the agreement was approved by a slight margin, 29 votes against 27.

The crisis is deeper than the EU thought

Cyprus’s financial aid needs, estimated at EUR 17 billion, are now estimated to amount to EUR 23 billion, which is more than the country’s total GDP. This means that the state must raise another 6 billion euros on its own. The central bank is expected to sell most of the country’s gold reserve, which could yield EUR 400 million, and try to renegotiate its loan from Russia.

Frozen wages and increased taxes

In time, it becomes known that the loan settlement requires that salaries and pensions of public employees be frozen and that taxes are increased on tobacco, alcohol and gasoline. In addition, 4,500 posts in the public sector disappear. A number of wholly or partly state-owned companies are to be privatized.

The Minister of Finance resigns

Michalis Sarris leaves after just over a month. He justifies it by being chairman of the board of Laïki Bank, whose problems were close to causing the entire Cypriot economy to crash. The government is preparing an investigation into how the country could end up on the border with the state bankruptcy.


Economic crisis plan

President Anastasiadis presents a plan to support the country’s faltering economy. Among other things, it is proposed to be allowed to operate casinos, something that the Orthodox Church has opposed and which has so far only existed in the Turkish part of the country. Furthermore, corporate profits are proposed to be tax exempt if they are reinvested in Cyprus, banks should be encouraged to grant loans with longer maturities and at lower interest rates, companies should be persuaded to have at least 70 percent Cypriots among their employees, property owners should be pressed to lower their rents.

New confiscations

Soon, the central bank will announce new confiscation of bank accounts. Only 37.5 percent of the value of the frozen assets will be replaced by bank shares – which can pay dividends to the extent that the Bank of Cyprus eventually recovers and makes a profit. 22.5 percent of the holdings should be invested in a fund that does not yield any interest. In practice, this money may also be confiscated, in which case a total of 60 percent. Only the remaining 40 percent of the account owners’ savings money should yield interest, but not until the bank has recovered. The message means that Cyprus’s role as an international financial center is likely to be over. Those Russians who are believed to have large savings in the banks concerned are told that they have no help to expect from the Russian state.

Agreement between Cyprus, the EU and the IMF

The government agrees with the EU and the IMFon trying to resolve the crisis by liquidating the second largest bank, Laïki Bank, and transferring accounts of less than EUR 100,000 to the Bank of Cyprus. Accounts in both banks of over € 100,000 are frozen and will be used to settle Laïki’s debts and provide new capital to the Bank of Cyprus. According to the Minister of Finance, the holders of the larger accounts can have up to 40 percent of their holdings confiscated. As compensation, they must be offered bank shares for the same amount. The plan assumes that the banking system will be reduced to average EU level by 2018. Cyprus’ parliament cannot decide on the new plan. The government also imposes restrictions on cash withdrawals from bank accounts and exports of euros from the country. After twelve days of closing, the banks will reopen, while the stock exchange will remain closed.

Cyprus is being squeezed from the outside

The European Central Bank (ECB) puts Cyprus under increased pressure by giving its politicians four days to find an alternative to the forced withdrawal from bank accounts. Subsequently, the ECB no longer intends to provide emergency cash loans to the Cypriot banks. The ten billion euro crisis loan from the EU and the IMF is entirely dependent on Cyprus itself being able to contribute to the approximately seven billion euros needed to avoid the country’s bankruptcy.

Concessions from the government

Ahead of Parliament’s vote, the government – with EU approval – proposes that accounts of less than EUR 20,000 be exempted from the forced withdrawal, but the settlement is still rejected. Not a single member votes for it. The President calls all party leaders to crisis meeting before the risk of Cyprus being hit by a state bankruptcy if the entire support package breaks.

Political turmoil surrounding the rescue package

The reactions to the loan settlement will be strong. Parliament’s first attempt to vote on the plan is postponed when contradictions are also discovered within the government coalition. In the meantime, the banks are kept closed. The conflict leads to stock market declines around the world due to concerns about the euro’s position.

Cyprus rescue package ready

After nine months of negotiations, the EU and the IMF approve a rescue package for the Cypriot economy. In total, the package is estimated to amount to approximately EUR 17 billion, of which SEK 10 billion is given as a loan. Up to SEK 6 billion will come from non-recurring taxes in all bank accounts and the rest from increased corporate taxes.


Disy and Diko form government

Anastasiadis appoints a government without female participation. The government is a coalition between Disy and the center-right party Diko. The latter receives four ministerial posts. Foreign Minister becomes Ioannis Kasoulidis and Minister of Finance becomes politically independent economist Michalis Sarris.

New President

Disney’s candidate Nikos Anastasiadis convincingly wins the presidential election in the second round. Anastasiadis has endorsed the EU and IMF requirements to grant an economic rescue package for Cyprus. An agreement on a loan has been delayed due to the outgoing President Christofia’s opposition to the privatization of state-owned enterprises required.


Review of tax laws

The government in the south agrees with a demand from the eurozone finance ministers to have a private accounting firm review whether the country’s laws meet the requirements to prevent money laundering. The audit will also see if the laws are applied in practice. Widespread European skepticism towards the Cypriot banking system has delayed a settlement on a financial aid loan from the EU.