Sirens fill sky marking 48 years since Turkish invasion

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Cypriots were awoken at dawn on Wednesday to the sound of air-raid sirens marking the exact time, 5.30 am, when 48 years ago, Turkish troops invaded the island, landing on a beachhead in Kyrenia on 20 July 1974.

Some 48 years on, Cyprus remains divided, with Turkey occupying the island’s northern third, with President Nicos Anastasiades giving the Greek Cypriot side’s commitment to reuniting the island.

Anastasiades tweeted: “The harrowing sound of sirens, which sounded 48 years after the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, reminded us once again of our heavy responsibility.

“May this sad anniversary be the last with our island divided and our citizens deprived of universal rights.

“The heroes who lost their lives defending democracy and the territorial integrity of our homeland, their respected relatives, and relatives of missing persons.

“The prisoners and wounded of war, 48 years later, Cyprus is suffering from the brutal consequences of the invasion”.

Anastasiades could not attend memorial events after contracting coronavirus. added that we honour

The President said that the fate of 775 Greek Cypriots and Greeks who went missing has not yet been established.

He said, “despite painstaking efforts of the Greek Cypriot side, Turkey continues to exhibit the same intransigence”.

He noted, “the Turkish obsession with unacceptable positions, which are not consistent with modern states, led to the derailment of any negotiation process”.

“We will never accept the option of surrender.

“Our goal remains that Cyprus, reunited and freed from third-party dependencies, truly offers the prospect of peaceful coexistence for all legal residents.”

A memorial service for soldiers killed during the invasion occurred at Makedonitissa Tomb in Nicosia, attended by Finance Minister Constantinos Petrides, representing President Anastasiades in his absence.

Later Wednesday, he will deliver a speech on behalf of Anastasiades during an event for the anniversaries of the coup and the Turkish invasion at the Presidential Palace.

Turkish invasion

The Turkish invasion came five days after the coup engineered by the Greek military then ruling Greece that toppled the democratically elected Cypriot President, Archbishop Makarios III.

Turkey used the military coup as a pretext to invade Cyprus.

In 1974 several thousand died, hundreds went missing, and 200,000 became refugees as they fled the advancing Turkish troops.

On 20 July 1974, citing article 4 of the Treaty of Guarantee, Turkish armed forces launched a full-scale invasion of Cyprus.

The Turkish invasion began with heavily armed troops landing in Kyrenia on the northern coast. Around 40,000 Turkish soldiers took part, equipped with state-of-the-art military hardware.

A cease-fire was agreed on 23 July.

While Archbishop Makarios was in exile, the then-President of the House of Representatives and Greek Cypriot negotiator Glafcos Clerides stepped in as acting President.

On 14 August, after failed talks in Geneva, Turkey launched its second offensive, Attila II, occupying Morphou, Famagusta and Karpasia.

Makarios returned to Cyprus in December that year.

Another 20,000 Greek Cypriots, who remained in the occupied areas, were forced to abandon their homes eventually and seek refuge in the safety of the south after a population transfer with Turkish Cypriots going north.

“Today’s anniversary is another opportunity to remind ourselves that our country’s tragedy has not ended,” said Presidential candidate Achilleas Demetriades.

“Consecutive rounds of negotiations have not yielded any results.

“There have been no talks in the past five years.

“Turkish intransigence has met our inaction.

“New faits accomplis are taking place in Varosha, and the government remains a passive spectator of every negative development. We can change the situation.”