July 30, 2015
Cyprus, home since 1964 to the United Nations’ second oldest peacekeeping mission, is virtually synonymous with intractable conflict. Cyprus remains divided more than 40 years after Turkey’s 1974 military intervention partitioned the island between the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus in the south, inhabited by roughly 800,000 mainly Greek Cypriots, and an unrecognized separatist state in the north inhabited by about 300,000 mainly Turkish Cypriots. This could change in the coming year. A convergence of factors, including constructive, committed leaders on both sides of the island, strong support from Turkey and other outside players, and a new vision of Cyprus’ role in the Eastern Mediterranean could lead in 2016 to the reunification of Cyprus as a bizonal, bicommunal federation in the European Union. John Koenig, who just concluded a three-year tour of duty as U.S. Ambassador in Cyprus, will discuss what makes this settlement bid different from others, and what a Cyprus solution could mean for American strategic interests in a troubled region.
John M. Koenig served as U.S. Ambassador to Cyprus from 2012 to 2015. A career Foreign Service Officer, his previous assignments included Deputy Chief of Mission in Berlin, Deputy Permanent Representative to NATO in Brussels, and Political Advisor to the commander of NATO’s Joint Forces Command in Naples. Mr. Koenig received an M.A. in 1983 from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.