In 1960, Cyprus became independent from the United Kingdom, but its early years were marked by violence between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. The United Nations established a buffer zone in 1964 to diffuse rising tensions. Ten years later, after a Greece-sponsored coup in Cyprus, Turkey sent thousands of troops to the island, citing its right as a guarantor power to do so. Nearly 200,000 Greek Cypriots living in the northern part of the island were forced or fled to the south; 60,000 Turkish Cypriots living in the south did the same to the north. The island and the capital city of Nicosia have been divided since then, despite international attempts to reunify Cyprus. U.N. troops remain to protect the peace, but periodic flare-ups of violence have occurred as recently as August 2023. Hear a conversation with former U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus, Kathleen Doherty.
Due to its location in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey, Greece, the United Kingdom, Russia, the United States and increasingly Israel and China see Cyprus as having strategic geopolitical importance. The island is also known as a favored investment spot, including illicit finance of Russia, China, and others; and now has the highest percentage per capita of refugees in Europe. Given all of these dimensions, is there a diplomatic path forward for a long-term solution? Ambassador Doherty outlines the current status of the Cyprus issue, the obstacles to establishing a permanent solution, and how diplomacy can play a critical role in mediating these tensions.
About Ambassador Doherty:
Ambassador Doherty served in Cyprus from 2015-2019. Before her appointment as Ambassador, Kathleen Doherty, a member of the Senior Foreign Service, served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Rome between September 2013 and September 2015. She previously spent two years as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, where she had responsibility for managing relations with the European Union and Western Europe. Prior to that, she was the Director for the Office of European Union and Regional Affairs.
Before returning to Washington D.C. in 2010, she was Counselor for Economic Affairs in the U.S. Embassy in London. Her other overseas assignments include Moscow, Rome and the Dominican Republic.
Ambassador Doherty speaks Italian and Spanish and previously Portuguese and Russian, and received one of the Department’s highest honors for her work on U.S.-EU relations. She has a M.Sc from the London School of Economics and a B.A. from Colgate University. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Affairs, a board member of the American Academy of Diplomacy, and a board member of the Women’s Foreign Policy Group.
Presented in partnership with the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.
Thanks to promotional sponsors the Minnesota International NGO Network, and the United Nations Association of Minnesota.
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