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Umut Bozkurt

This chapter aims to analyse the transition and regime change in northern Cyprus following the 1974 Turkish military intervention. It argues that the primary structural reason behind the conflict in Cyprus is ethnonationalism. There is a significant literature that explains the Cyprus conflict on the basis of ethnic identities that are seen as historically inevitable. In contrast, it was underlined that identities are constructed and contested in a historical framework determined by class, status and power conflicts and nationalism arose as an alternative form of mobilization to class mobilization for the working class in Cyprus after the 1940s. One of the arguments of the chapter is that the transition in Cyprus can be defined as an illiberal peace. This is because, despite the apparent constitutional emphasis on liberal values and principles on both sides of the divide, the post-1974 status quo is marked with illiberal forms and human rights discounts on a range of issues. The post-1974 status quo produced new winners and losers. On the one hand, the Turkish Cypriots enjoyed significant prosperity in comparison to the pre-1974 period as they benefited from the distribution of spoils of war and later Greek Cypriot property. However, in the early 2000s, the Turkish Cypriot statelet experienced a serious financial crisis that compromised the Turkish Cypriot political elite’s strategy of establishing political legitimacy through allocating Greek Cypriot property and distributing posts in state institutions. In this period, Turkish Cypriots stood up to their nationalist leaders, significantly challenging the ethnonationalist identification that became hegemonic in the Turkish Cypriot society since the 1950s. This popular resistance also reveals the increasing discontent against the post-1974 status quo that established an isolated political structure in North Cyprus entirely dependent on Turkey in political, financial and security terms.