45th anniversary of Cyprus peace operation marked

45th anniversary of Cyprus peace operation marked

NICOSIA- Anadolu Agency
45th anniversary of Cyprus peace operation marked

The celebrations to mark the 45th anniversary of Turkey’s military operation launched to protect Turkish population in Cyprus began on the island on July 20.

Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay and the President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) Mustafa Akıncı laid a wreath at Atatürk memorial in the coastal town of Girne.

Officials from Turkey, including Deputy Culture and Tourism Minister Serdar Çam, and from TRNC, including TRNC Prime Minister Ersin Tatar, attended the celebrations.

"[TRNC] continues both its development efforts and also its efforts to maintain permanent peace on the island in line with your [Ataturk's] principle of 'Peace at home, peace in the world'," Akıncı wrote on the memorial book.

"Turkish people and the Turkish Republic will always support, as they have been until today, Turkish Cypriots, as the equal owner of the island, who deserve to freely maintain their existence on the island and who are an integral part of our people," Oktay wrote on the memorial book.

Meanwhile, thousands of people attended a dawn vigil in Northern Cyprus to mark the 45th anniversary of the peace operation.

The TRNC Prime Minister Ersin Tatar and veterans of the 1974 peace operation along with huge numbers of people gathered at a beach in northern Cyprus where Turkish forces entered the island on the day of the operation.

"We have gathered here to celebrate the freedom and peace that came at the dawn of July 20, and to commemorate those who died and suffered for this cause," Fevzi Tanpınar, the head of Dawn Vigil Organization Committee said during the event.

"Never forget that your fate will always depend on our fate on this island. Notice that our freedoms are inextricably tied to your freedom. Never forget that peace is the only way to live as good neighbors on this Island and live," Tanpınar said addressing the Greek Cypriot side.

No hesitation to take same steps: Erdoğan

Turkish army will never hesitate to take the same step as 45 years ago "if needed for the lives and security of Turkish Cypriots," the Turkish President said on July 20.

"Turkey launched the peace operation in Cyprus to protect rights and interests of Turkish Cypriots who are one of the equal owners of the island," said Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in a statement released by Turkey’s Presidential Communications Directorate.

"The entire world is watching our determination. No one should doubt that the heroic Turkish army, which sees [Northern] Cyprus as its homeland, will not hesitate to take the same step it took 45 years ago if needed for the lives and security of the Turkish Cypriots," said Erdoğan.

Erdoğan recalled that the military operation in 1974 came after all diplomatic steps were exhausted in line with international law and added: "Those who think the wealth of the island and the region only belongs
to them will face the determination of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots."

Erdoğan highlighted that Turkey's aim was a fair and permanent solution on the island and peace, not the tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean to prevail.

"Those who dream of changing the fact that Turkish Cypriots are an integral part of the Turkish nation will soon realize that it is in vain," Erdoğan added.

July 20 Peace and Freedom Day in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus commemorates Turkey’s Cyprus Peace Operation- a huge military intervention to protect Turkish Cypriots from the violence which struck the island in 1974.

In 1974, following a coup aiming at Cyprus’ annexation by Greece, Ankara had to intervene as a guarantor power. In 1983, the TRNC was founded.

The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the dispute, all ending in failure. The latest one, held with the participation of the guarantor countries- Turkey, Greece, and the U.K.- ended in 2017 in Switzerland.

In 2004, in twin referendums, the plan of then U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan was accepted by Turkish Cypriots but rejected by Greek Cypriots.

Talks have focused on a federal model, based on the political equality of the Turkish and Greek Cypriot sides, but Greek Cypriots’ rejection of such a solution, including the Annan plan, led to the emergence of other models.

In a recent report, current U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also said that "new ideas" may be needed for a settlement on the island.