On July 20, 1974 at 5:30am, 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.
47 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.