Turkish Cyprus marks 47th anniversary of Cyprus Peace Operation
The Turkish Cypriots, with the participation of a Turkish delegation headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, on July 20 marked the 47th anniversary of the Cyprus Peace Operation launched by the Turkish Armed Forces to bring peace and safety to the island and the Turkish Cypriots who had suffered years of persecution.
Every year, Turkish Cyprus celebrates July 20 as Peace and Freedom Day to mark the operation -- a large-scale military intervention to protect the Turkish Cypriots from the violence that struck the island in 1974.
Addressing the ceremonies, Erdoğan said peace talks on the future of Cyprus could take place only between “the two states” on the Mediterranean island.
“The new negotiation process can only be carried out between the two states. We are right, and we will defend our right to the end,” he said.
The Greek Cypriots could not wake up from the “ignorance of seeing the Turkish Cypriots as a minority and rejecting a solution based on equality,” he said, adding that the Greek Cypriot side insists on maintaining its “maximalist, insincere and spoiled approach that is disconnected from reality.
Erdoğan noted that the Cyprus dispute was damaging Turkey’s relations with the European Union and Greece. He recalled that Greek Cyprus rejected the “Annan Plan” for the reunification of the island, and then the EU had promised to support the Turkish Cyprus, which welcomed the same peace plan at a referendum in 2004. “I call on the European Union: Have you kept your promises?” he asked.
On the Varosha (Maraş) town of the island, which was partially reopened to the public in 2020 after 47 years, Erdoğan said the opening would be carried out with utmost attention to property rights.
The ghost resort was the hub of Cyprus’ tourism industry before the war.
“In the light of these works carried out in compliance with property rights, the doors of a new era will be opened in Maraş that will benefit everyone. The fact that the initiative will first start in the pilot area, which corresponds to 3.5 percent of closed Varosha, reveals how sensitive the Turkish Cypriot authorities are to this issue,” Erdoğan said.
He emphasized that Varosha has been vacant for years, but it will be a symbol of the peaceful and prosperous future of the Island of Cyprus and not of a deadlock. “With these steps, new grievances will not be created in Maraş. On the contrary, existing grievances will be eliminated,” the president added.
Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar, for his part, announced that the military zone status of the Varosha, which corresponds to 3.5 percent of closed Varosha, will be lifted, and the owners of the properties there will be allowed to apply the Immovable Property Commission.
Erdoğan also virtually attended several opening ceremonies in Turkish Cyprus, including the Data Center groundbreaking ceremony and the presentation of the applications to be put into service within the scope of the e-Government Project. He opened the Peace and Freedom Monument at Yavuz Landing Beach, the museum ship of the landing ship used in the 1974 Peace Operation and the Nicosia northern ring road.
Turkish Parliament Speaker Mustafa Şentop, several ministers of Turkey, ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) deputy chairman Binali Yıldırım, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) leader Devlet Bahçeli, Great Union Party (BBP) chairman Mustafa Destici, Democratic Left Party (DSP) chairman Önder Aksakal, Felicity Party High Advisory Board chairman Oğuzhan Asiltürk, and Welfare Party chairman Fatih Erbakan also attended at the ceremonies.