Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is in the Turkish-occupied north to celebrate the 1974 invasion, which divided the island and officially open the new Ercan (Tymbou) airport terminal.
Erdogan on Thursday will inaugurate the new terminal building and runway of Ercan Airport (Tymbou) in the Turkish-occupied northern part of Nicosia.
“The expanded and renovated airport will be the TRNC’s gateway to the world”, said Erhan Arikli, the head of the north’s transport office.
He added that Ercan’s annual passenger capacity, currently at 4 million, could double to 8 million and even 10 mln after the new terminal and runway are brought online and ticket prices fall.
It will generate about €30 mln in public revenue annually —reportedly, the airport renovation in the north cost a total of €400 mln.
As reported by Turkish Cypriot media, Erdogan is expected to attend a ceremony at Nicosia’s Ataturk monument in the north at around 5:45 pm and speak at Ercan’s inauguration ceremony.
His speech is expected to refer to infrastructure projects the Turkish state will promote in the north, including an electricity interconnection with Turkey.
Meanwhile, new information indicates that mass graves of Greek Cypriot missing persons could be located near the new runway.
Local media, quoting informed sources, say there are at least two mass graves nearby.
One appears to be located within the airport premises, while a second is next to the airport.
Meanwhile, the Bicommunal Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) crews are active in the village Stylloi in occupied Famagusta, where according to information, a mass burial place of Greek Cypriot soldiers executed by the Turkish army in 1974 is located.
The Greek Cypriot head of the committee, Leonidas Pantelides, had told the House earlier this month that crews were drying up part of the local lake of Agios Loukas to locate the mass grave.
The committee is searching for the remains of 40 Greek Cypriot soldiers reportedly killed in Lapithos in August 1974.
Cypriots were awoken at dawn on Thursday to the sound of air-raid sirens marking the exact time, 5.30 am, when 49 years ago, Turkish troops invaded the island, landing on a beachhead in Kyrenia on 20 July 1974.
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.