Turkey reiterates support for peace talks in Cyprus
Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı (R) attends the July 20 Peace and Freedom celebrations in Nicosia, which were conducted on July 20 with a reduced military presence.Turkey reiterated its support for the U.N.-led peace talks in the Mediterranean island of Cyprus on July 20, which marked the 42nd anniversary of the Turkish military intervention on the island, with a reduced military presence in the national day parades.
“The Cyprus issue, which should guarantee the political equality, legitimate rights and security of the Cypriot Turks, and which we see as a national case, continues to be our priority,” said Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Tuğrul Türkeş during the July 20 Peace and Freedom celebrations in Nicosia on July 20.
Turkish Presidency Secretary-General Fahri Kasırga and Turkey’s main opposition leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu also attended the celebrations in Nicosia.
On July 20, 1974, the Turkish military intervened in the island through airborne and seaborne operations, in response to an Athens-backed coup aiming to unite Cyprus with Greece five days before.
The celebrations for the anniversary started on July 19 with the firing of a 21-gun salute and Turkish Cypriot President Mustafa Akıncı’s address to the nation on the state radio station BRT.
Akıncı said the military intervention had paved the way for Turkish Cypriots to live in “peace, freedom and security” on the island.
“The military operation on July 20, which was launched against the military coup organized in the leadership of the fascist Greek junta on July 15, 1974, 42 years ago, not only prevented Cyprus from being connected to Greece but also formed the basis of an island federal infrastructure of two sides, two nations. It opened the way for Turkish Cypriots to live in peace, freedom and security,” wrote Akıncı in the memorial book at the Atatürk Memorial in Nicosia, where the first part of the celebrations took place on July 19.
Long-stalled U.N.-brokered peace talks to find a solution to the 42-year-old conflict were re-launched on May 15, 2015 following the election of Akıncı in the month before.
Akıncı and his Greek Cypriot counterpart Nicos Anastasiades have been conducting talks under the auspices of the United Nations special envoy Espen Barth Eide since then. Both sides have stated that a solution is possible within 2016.
Akıncı said during the July 20 Peace and Freedom celebrations in Nicosia on July 20 that if a solution could not be reached before entering 2017, then the new year would trigger new tensions on the island.
The celebrations took place with reduced military presence, after a local committee decided to “simplify” the celebrations following the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15.
As a result, heavily armored vehicles did not take part in the parade, while F-16s also did not fly as part of the celebrations.
Some of the celebrations marking the anniversary this year – cocktails, concerts, dinners – were also canceled due to the coup attempt.
As the dawn broke early July 20, people crowded the Yavuz landing beach to stand the “Dawn Guard,” in order to remember the Turkish troops’ landing on the island on July 20, 1974 and to commemorate the killed soldiers during the operation.
Cem Karabay, a professional diver who has broken the Guinness World Record by spending a mammoth 142 hours 42 minutes and 42 seconds under the Mediterranean, emerged from the sea tired but victorious on July 20 at the beach where the landing had started.