Cyprus Turkish Invasion Anniversary Brings Calls to Resume Unity Talks

(AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, FILE)

The Aug. 14 commemoration marking a second invasion wave by Turkey in 1974 led Cypriot political parties across the spectrum to say it should provide impetus to kick start reunification talks again.

Turkish troops 44 years earlier advanced further than they had in a first phase on July 20, stopping at Varosha to the east and Morphou in the west, displacing some 200,000 Greek-Cypriots to the southern part with Turkish-Cypriots there pushed to the occupied area.

Varosha, in Famagusta, remains a fenced-off abandoned ghost town under the control of the Turkish military frozen in time, with 1974 cars and products still on display in dirt-covered businesses and broken storefronts.

Unity talks collapsed in July, 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said they would never remove an army in the occupied area and wanted the right to militarily intervene again.

That led Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades to walk away from the negotiating table but he said he’s willing to talk again if Turkey drops its militaristic demands and agrees to an agenda set by the United Nations, which Erdogan has refused to do, leaving a restart doubtful.

Anastasiades’ ruling DISY party stated that, “Today’s black anniversary awakens memories in the Cypriot people. But 44 years is not enough to forget our occupied places.”

It called for consensus among political rivals and urged Anastasiades’ opponents to back him as one, the Cyprus Mail reported.

“We stress the need to reaffirm a national unity policy and common struggle for a comprehensive solution that would restore human rights and fundamental freedoms of all our people and ensure long-term peace in a democratic, European state, a common unified homeland for all Cypriots,” it added.

The opposition AKEL party said the second wave cemented the so-called Attila Line, the name of the operation Turkey gave to the invasion, taking 37 percent of the island and with a Green Line divider through the Capital of Nicosia watched over by United Nations peacekeeping forces.

AKEL said it hoped that a visit to the island – before Turkey’s raging economic crisis now – by UN envoy Jane Holl Lute, an American diplomat, should force “all sides to face up to their responsibilities”.

“Our hope and expectation are that it will pave the way for the resumption of negotiations, which this time will lead to a successful outcome,” the party said.

“Liberation from the occupation, and reunification of our country will be justification of our struggles and a new page for our people who can build their lives in conditions of permanent freedom, peace, security and cooperation,” it added.

The Green Party said generations who lived in the northern part of the island were disappearing.

“Thirty-seven per cent of the Republic remains under occupation, thousands of refugees are denied the right to return to their ancestral homes, while there are still missing persons and people still waiting for their children to come home,” a party announcement said.

“With many people constantly talking about a solution to the Cyprus problem, although Turkish positions lead us to dangerous deadlocks… the Turks continue to want what they wanted in 1974 and that is geographic segregation but now within a federation. We must not succumb to their demands,” the announcement said.