Cyprus. The talks about a reunion of the island resumed in February, after close to two years’ delay. President Nicos Anastasiades met his counterpart from the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic in the north, Derviş Eroğlu, at the UN premises in Nicosia. Recently found gas and oil deposits were believed to have given Cyprus the best chance of peace since the 1974 split. The party had four ministers.
According to Countryaah.com, Cyprus population in 2020 is estimated at 1,207,370. The rescue program forced by Cyprus to accept emergency loans from the EU and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2013 seemed threatened when Parliament voted down a proposal for the privatization of state-owned enterprises. A revised proposal was then adopted at the last moment before the deadline expired, in early March, and the next loan payment was thus secured.
Shortly thereafter, Governor Panikos Dimitriadis resigned. He had been criticized for his handling of the banking crisis that led to the emergency loan and must also have had conflicts with the government. New boss was Christalla Giorkatzi. In May, the European Court ordered Turkey to pay EUR 90 million for the invasion and division of Cyprus, one of the largest damages awarded by the Strasbourg court. EUR 30 million was awarded to relatives of those who disappeared during the invasion, and EUR 60 million to Greek Cypriots on the Carpathian Peninsula in occupied Northern Cyprus. Turkey did not agree to the verdict.
Norwegian August Lund took over as head of UNFICYP in August and thus became the first woman to lead one of the UN peacekeeping forces. UNFICYP, which celebrated its 50th anniversary during the year, had around 1,000 soldiers and police as well as about 150 civilian employees on the island. In August, Norway’s former Foreign and Defense Minister Espen Barth Eide was also appointed a new UN envoy in Cyprus.
Many Cypriots were still upset by the demands placed on the country in connection with the emergency loan. Unemployment was reported to have more than doubled in one year, to around 16%. Towards the end of the year, however, there were signs that the three-year downturn was nearing its end – the economy was found to have shrunk less than expected and was forecast to fall -3% during the year. Contributing factors were increased tourist inflow, new start-ups and better momentum in the property market.
The peace talks were broken again in October in protest of what was said to be Turkey’s attempt to prevent Cyprus from searching for gas south of the island. A Turkish research vessel must have infiltrated Cypriot water. The EU and the US expressed concern about the rising tensions.