Cyprus. According to Countryaah.com, Cyprus Independence Day is October 1. Tassos Papadopoulos, leader of the right-wing Democratic Party (DIKO), won the surprising presidential election on February 16. He already got over 50% of the vote in the first round, so no other round needed to be held. Papadopoulos had the support of several other parties, among them the country’s largest, the Workers’ Progress Party (AKEL).
Despite his nationalist sympathies, Papadopoulos continued negotiations with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash. The aim was to reach an agreement that would allow a united Cyprus to join the EU on 1 May 2004.
At least 50,000 Turkish Cypriot protesters in Nicosia demanded on January 14 that Denktash would accept the proposal for a reunification of the island presented by the UN. Denktash refused, citing the proposal to force 100,000 Turkish Cypriots from their homes. In the end, only the Greek Cypriot Republic in southern Cyprus agreed in April on membership in the EU.
Despite the collapse, the two sides came closer during the year. On April 22, Denktash decided that Greek Cypriots would be allowed to make day trips to the occupied part of Cyprus. The Greek Cypriots responded by raising their financial sanctions against the Turkish Cypriots
After only a few weeks, 250,000 Greek Cypriots and 70,000 Turkish Cypriots were estimated to have crossed the green line. The trade exchange that arose meant a great deal to the Turkish Cypriots’ economy. At the end of May, Turkey lifted the ban on Greek Cypriots to visit the country that has existed since 1963.
In the elections to the Northern Cyprus Parliament on December 14, the nationalist and EU-friendly bloc were given 25 seats each. At New Year it was unclear if any government could be formed.
In August, Turkey and Turkish Cypriot representatives signed a free trade agreement that allowed Turkish Cypriots to get around other countries’ trade barriers by allowing their exports to pass through Turkey. The agreement was considered to constitute a breach of Turkey’s customs union with the EU.