Cyprus marked the anniversary of the Turkish invasion of 1974, while Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his close ally Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar announced the partial re-opening of the ghost town of Varosha on Tuesday.
Memorials and other commemorative events are paying tribute to all those killed during the invasion, while air-raid sirens sounded at 0530 local time when the Turkish invasion was launched and Turkish troops landed on the island’s northern shores on this day, 47 years ago.
The invasion resulted in the occupation of 37 percent of the Mediterranean island’s territory, an EU member state since 2004.
President Anastasiades in a Twitter post said that Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in July 1974 continues to be a provocation of the basic principles of the international community and that we continue our struggle focused on international law.
On Tuesday morning, Anastasiades attended the memorial service for the fallen during the Turkish invasion, at Makedonitissa Tomb. Also there were Defense Minister Charalambos Petrides, Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos and the heads of the Army Forces of Cyprus and Greece, Lieutenant General Demokritos Zervakis and General Constantinos Floros.
The annual memorial service for the fallen during the Turkish invasion was later held at Apostolos Varnavas Church at the Archbishopric. In the evening President Anastasiades will address an event at the Presidential Palace marking the anniversary of the Cyprus invasion.
Turkish invasion resulted in occupation 37 percent of Cyprus
Turkish troops invaded Cyprus on July 20, 1974, following a military coup that toppled the legal government of the Republic which was engineered with the Greek military junta.
In a two-phase invasion, and despite repeated calls by the UN Security Council, Turkey occupied 37 percent of the sovereign territory of Cyprus. Ankara continues to maintain some 40,000 troops in the northern areas of Cyprus, in complete disregard of appeals for their withdrawal and calls to contribute to a political settlement through peace talks.
Negotiations to solve the Cyprus issue have been held since 1975. Numerous UN-backed talks to reunite the island have failed to yield results. A 5+1 Informal Meeting that took place in Geneva, on April 27-29, 2021 failed to find enough common ground to allow for the resumption of formal negotiations in relation to the settlement of the Cyprus problem.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said that he will convene in the near future another meeting of the 5+1, the five plus the United Nations, again with the objective to move in the direction of reaching common ground to allow for formal negotiations to start.
North celebrates Turkey’s invasion, opens Varosha
The Cyprus invasion anniversary had Greek Cypriots mourning, but Turkish Cypriots celebrating with a traditional military parade in the presence of Erdogan, who has been on the island since Monday.
Tatar said that the Turkish Cypriots decided to demilitarize 3.5 percent of the closed-off town of Varosha in Cyprus and open it for its Greek Cypriot owners to return.
“The military zone representing 3.5 percent of the closed-off Varosha will be abolished, and the second phase of our initiative will start,” he remarked. Tatar said the owners who apply to the immovable property commission will be eligible for return.
Erdogan said the decision meant a new era for Varosha on Cyprus that would benefit everyone. “A process will now begin to everyone’s benefit and with respect to ownership rights,” he stated.
“Instead of a symbol of non-solution, Varosha will become the symbol of future prosperity.”
On Monday, Erdogan reiterated Ankara’s call for a two-state solution on Cyprus during a speech at a special session of the breakaway northern region’s Parliament.
He said that he firmly rejected international efforts to reunify the island.
“On this island, there are two states and two peoples,” Erdogan said, in comments carried live on television in Turkey.
“We do not, and cannot make, any concession on that,” he declared, adding that past experiences “taught everyone clearly that Greek Cypriots have no intention of establishing a partnership state” comprised of two equal halves.