From indifference to independence: Turkey’s shifting Cyprus policy in the 1950s

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This article aims to offer a valid answer to the question why Turkey’s official stance on the Cyprus problem experienced frequent shifts - from indifference (1950) into supporting colonial rule (1954) then into Taksim, or partition (1956) and, finally, into independence (1959). Drawing upon the main assumptions of neoclassical realism, it argues that the existing systemic explanations in the scholarly literature that focus on Cold War rivalry are insufficient to grasp why there were such remarkable shifts in Turkey’s Cyprus policy in the 1950s. Instead, the article will focus on the domestic dynamics to make better sense of these policy changes. Accordingly, it will first discuss the main assumptions of neoclassical realism as a sound theoretical framework. Second, it will scrutinise in detail how Turkey experienced such shifts in its Cyprus policy throughout the 1950s. Third, the article will discuss the extant literature that overwhelmingly concentrates on systemic explanations for Turkey’s volte-face in Cyprus. In response, the article will offer alternative explanations by focusing on Turkey’s depleting resource extraction capacity and the political leadership of Turkish Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, in order to fully understand the underlying reasons behind Turkey’s shifting Cyprus policy.




Gülmez, S. B. (2020). From indifference to independence: Turkey’s shifting Cyprus policy in the 1950s. Middle Eastern Studies, 56(5), 744–758.

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