On July 20, 1974 at 5:20am, Turkish troops landed on the Republic of Cyprus’ coast five miles off Kyrenia. Since that day, nothing on the island has ever been the same.
Every year since, on the anniversary of the invasion, sirens have blared out over the Republic, recalling the moment Turkish troops invaded.
In 1974, approximately 40,000 Turkish troops under the command of Lieutenant Nurettin Ersin implemented their invasion plan, code-named ‘Attila’, illegally invading the island in violation of the UN Security Council Charter.
Turkey still illegally occupies 37 per cent of Cyprus’ territory.
Turkish troops invaded Cyprus on July 20, 1974, five days after the legal government of the late Archbishop Makarios III was toppled by a military coup, engineered by the military junta then ruling Greece. Two unproductive conferences in Geneva followed; the first between Britain, Greece and Turkey and the second with the additional attendance of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot representatives. Three weeks after the ceasefire of July 22, and despite the fact that talks were still being held and just as an agreement seemed about to be reached, the Turkish army mounted a second full-scale offensive. As a result, Turkey increased its hold to include the booming tourist resort of Famagusta in the east and the rich citrus-growing area of Morphou in the west.
All in all, almost 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus came under Turkish military occupation. Nearly one-third of the population, some 200,000 Greek Cypriots, were forcibly uprooted from their homes and properties, thousands were killed during the hostilities, over 1,000 persons were listed as missing while thousands of Greek Cypriots and Maronites remained enclaved.
Numerous UN resolutions have demanded respect to the independence, unity and territorial integrity of Cyprus, the return of the displaced to their homes, and the withdrawal of foreign troops from the island, but all resolutions have been ignored by Turkey.
The National Federation of Cypriots in the UK on Tuesday rallied Parliament, with the annual All-Party Parliamentary titled ‘Cyprus – Prospects for a Solution’. The Government Spokesperson of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr Prodromos Prodromou, briefed the APPG and members of the UK Cypriot community with the latest developments on the Cyprus issue.
The Federation President, Mr Christos Karaolis, thanked the 19 Parliamentarians, including the Minister and Shadow Minister, who were present and welcomed guests to the event and spoke of the UK Cypriot community’s hope and determination to see a reunited Cyprus free from the outdated system of guarantees and without the presence of foreign troops, as well as the return of refugees to their hometowns and properties. He added, “what we’re asking for is both fair and simple; a fully functioning state that is in line with the rule of law and is free from foreign interference. Put simply a “normal state” as the UN Secretary-General Mr Antonio Gutteres said in 2017.”
Mr Karaolis reassured those present, that despite it being 45 years since the illegal invasion, the Cypriot community is ‘louder than it has ever been before’ with 376 MPs receiving emails ‘calling for Turkey to take it’s #HandsOffCyprus”.
45 years on from the most tragic page in the Republic of Cyprus’ history, at 5:30am the war sirens rang around the island once more.
President, Nicos Anastasiades, expressed his readiness on Thursday to meet with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci, welcoming the latter’s proposal for an informal conference.
The UN Secretary-General told the leaders at the end of the Conference on Cyprus in Crans-Montana two years ago that he wanted both of them to get back to him when they were ready with a plan on when, how, and where they want to meet and do a deal, and not before.