Turkish invasion of Cyprus

Turkish invasion of Cyprus
Turkish invasion of Cyprus
Ethnographic map of Cyprus according to the 1960 census.
Date July – August 1974
Location Cyprus
Result Turkish military victory[1][2][3][4][5]
Landing of Turkish troops in the northern part of Cyprus on July 20, 1974.
Fall of the Greek military junta in Athens three days later, on July 23, 1974.
Declaration of independence of the (internationally unrecognised) Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus on November 15, 1983 on Turkish occupied Northern Cyprus.
Turkey Turkish Cypriots
Commanders and leaders
Turkey Lt. Gen. Nurettin Ersin
Turkey Maj. Gen. Bedrettin Demirel
Turkey Maj. Gen. Osman Fazıl Polat
Turkey Brig. Gen. Süleyman Tuncer

Turkey Brig. Gen. Sabri Demirbağ
Turkey Brig. Gen. Sabri Evren

Cyprus Lt. Gen. George Karayannis
Cyprus Brig. Gen. Michael Georgitsis
Cyprus Col. Konstantinos Kombokis
Greece Col. Nikolaos Nikolaides[citation needed]
* 40,000 troops
* 20,000 Turkish Cypriot fighters
* 200 M47 and M48 tanks
* M107, M108 and M110 self-propelled howitzers
* M101, M114 and M115 howitzers
* M113 APCs
* Fletcher, Sumner and Gearing class destroyers
* GUPPY IA/IIA/III class submarines
* F-5, F-84F, F-100, F-102 and F-104 combat aircraft
* C-47, C-130 and C-160 transport aircraft
* UH-1 Iroquois helicopters
* 5,000 troops
* 35 T-34 tanks
* Ordnance QF 25 pounder
* 2,000 troops
* 20 Nord 2501 Noratlas and 10 C-47 Dakota transport aircraft
Casualties and losses
Turkish Cypriots:
340 killed
1,000 wounded
498 killed[6]
1,200 wounded
20 aircraft destroyed
838 killed
2,200 wounded:[6]
309 killed
1,141 wounded
909 missing
88 killed
148 wounded
83 missing
397 killed
1,289 wounded
992 missing[citation needed]

The Turkish invasion of Cyprus, launched on 20 July 1974, was a Turkish military invasion in response to a Greek military junta backed coup in Cyprus. It is known in Turkey as the Cyprus Peace Operation (Turkish: Kıbrıs Barış Harekâtı), Cyprus Operation (Kıbrıs Harekâtı) or by its Turkish Armed Forces code name Operation Atilla (Atilla Harekâtı).

The coup, staged by the Cypriot National Guard[7][8] in conjunction with EOKA B, deposed the Cypriot president Archbishop Makarios III and installed Nikos Sampson[9] in his place.[10]

More than one quarter of the population of Cyprus was expelled from the occupied northern part of the island where Greek Cypriots constituted 80% of the population. There was also a flow of roughly 60,000 Turkish Cypriots from the south to the north after the conflict.[11] The Turkish invasion ended in the partition of Cyprus along the UN-monitored Green Line which still divides Cyprus today. In 1983 the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) declared independence, although Turkey is the only country which recognises it.[12]



In 1571 the Greeks of Cyprus were conquered by the Ottoman Empire, following the Ottoman–Venetian War (1570–1573). The island and its population was later leased to Britain by the Cyprus Convention an agreement reached during the Congress of Berlin in 1878 between the United Kingdom and the Ottoman Empire. Britain annexed Cyprus in November 1914 when the Ottoman Empire joined World War I on the side of the Central Powers; subsequently the island became a British Crown colony. The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne marked the end of the Turkish claim to the island. Article 21 of the treaty gave the minority Muslims on the island the choice of leaving the island to live as Turks in Turkey, or to stay on the island as British nationals.[citation needed]

Map showing the division of the Republic of Cyprus.

At this time the population of Cyprus was composed by both Greeks and Turks, who identified themselves with their respective "mother" countries. However, the elites of both communities shared the belief that they were socially more progressive (better educated and less conservative) and therefore distinct from the mainlanders. Greek and Turkish Cypriots lived quietly side by side for many years.[13]

Broadly, three main forces can be held responsible for transforming two ethnic communities into two national ones: Education, British colonial practices, and insular religious teachings accompanying economic development. Formal education was perhaps the most important as it affected Cypriots during childhood and youth, education has been a main vehicle of transferring inter-communal hostility.[14]

British colonial policies also promoted ethnic polarization. The British applied the principle of "divide and rule", setting the two groups against each other to prevent combined action against colonial rule.[15] For example, when Greek Cypriots rebelled in the 1950s, the colonial office expanded the size of the Auxiliary Police and in September 1955, established the Special Mobile Reserve which was recruited exclusively from the Turkish community, to crush EOKA.[16] This and similar practices contributed to inter-communal animosity.[citation needed]

Failure to fully adopt secular practices also fostered ethnic nationalism[citation needed] as the two main ethnic groups practised their own distinct religions, with very little crossover. Although economic development and increased education reduced the explicitly religious characteristics of the two communities, the growth of nationalism on the two mainlands increased the significance of other differences. Turkish nationalism was at the core of the revolutionary program promoted by the father of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (1881–1938).[17], and affected Turkish Cypriots who followed his principles. President of the Republic of Turkey from 1923 to 1938, Atatürk attempted to build a new nation on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire and elaborated the program of "six principles" (the "Six Arrows") to do so.[citation needed]

These principles of secularism (laicism) and nationalism reduced Islam's role in the everyday life of individuals and emphasized Turkish identity as the main source of nationalism. Traditional education with a religious foundation was discarded and replaced with one that followed secular principles and, shorn of Arab and Persian influences, was purely Turkish. Turkish Cypriots quickly adopted the secular program of Turkish nationalism.[citation needed]

Under Ottoman rule Turkish Cypriots had been classified as Muslims, a distinction based on religion. Being thoroughly secular Atatürk's program made their Turkish identity paramount, and may have further reinforced their division from their Greek Cypriot neighbors.[citation needed]

In the early fifties a Greek nationalist group was formed called the Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston (EOKA, or "National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters").[18] Their objective was to drive the British out of the island first, and then to integrate the island with Greece. EOKA was a Greek nationalist organization and some members murdered Turkish Cypriots who were thought to have colluded with the British. EOKA wished to remove all obstacles, British, Greek Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot from their path to independence, or union with Greece. EOKA initiated its activities by planting the first bombs on 1 April 1951 with the directive by Greek Foreign Minister Stefanopoulos.[citation needed]

The first secret talks for EOKA, as a nationalist organization established to integrate the island to Greece, were started in the chairmanship of Archbishop Makarios III in Athens on 2 July 1952. In the aftermath of these meetings a "Council of Revolution" was established on 7 March 1953. In early 1954 secret weaponry shipments to Cyprus started with the knowledge of the Greek government. Lt. Georgios Grivas, formerly an officer in the Greek army, covertly disembarked on the island on 9 November 1954 and EOKA's campaign against the British forces began to grow.[19]

The first Turk[clarification needed] to be killed by EOKA on 21 June 1955 was a policeman. EOKA also targeted Greek collaborators.[citation needed]

A year later EOKA revived its attempts to liberate Cyprus from British rule. The Turkish Resistance Organization (TMT, Türk Mukavemet Teşkilatı) declared war on the Greek Cypriot rebels as well.[20]

On 12 June 1958, eight Greek Cypriot civilians from Kondemenos village were killed by the TMT near the Turkish Cypriot populated village of Geunyeli, after being dropped off there by the British authorities. After this the Turkish government ordered the TMT to blow up the offices of the Turkish press office in Nicosia to falsely put the blame onto the Greek Cypriots and prevent independence negotiations from succeeding.[21] It also began a string of assassinations and murders of prominent Turkish Cypriot supporters of independence.[20][21] The following year, after the conclusion of the independence agreements on Cyprus, the Turkish Navy sent a ship to Cyprus fully loaded with arms for the TMT. The ship was stopped and the crew were caught red-handed in the infamous "Deniz" incident.[22] British rule lasted until 1960 when the island was declared an independent state under the London-Zurich agreements. The agreement created a foundation for the Republic of Cyprus by the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities, although the republic was seen as a necessary compromise between the two reluctant communities.[citation needed]

The 1960 Constitution of the Cyprus Republic proved unworkable however, lasting only three years. Greek Cypriots wanted to end the separate Turkish Cypriot municipal councils permitted by the British in 1958, made subject to review under the 1960 agreements. For many Greek Cypriots these municipalities were the first stage on the way to the partition they feared. The Greek Cypriots wanted enosis, integration with Greece, while Turkish Cypriots wanted taksim, partition between Greece and Turkey.[citation needed]

Resentment also rose within the Greek Cypriot community because Turkish Cypriots had been given a larger share of governmental posts than the size of their population warranted. In accordance with the constitution 30% of civil service jobs were allocated to the Turkish community even though at they time they only constituted 18.3% of the population.[23] Additionally, the position of vice president was reserved for the Turkish population and both the president and vice president were given veto power over crucial issues.[24] The veto power in particular made it difficult for the government to operate efficiently as any proposal had to be agreed to by both communities. The Turkish Cypriots had also vetoed the amalgamation of Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot troops into the same units.


In December 1963 the President of the Republic Makarios proposed thirteen constitutional amendments after the government was repeatedly vetoed by the Turkish Cypriot legislators, forcing deadlock over all major legislations and the budget. Makarios believed it would help facilitate the functioning of the state and to more accurately reflect their ethnic make up. The amendments would have involved the Turkish community giving up many of their protections as a minority, including adjusting ethnic quotas in the government and revoking the presidential and vice presidential veto power.[24] These amendments were rejected by the Turkish side and the Turkish representation left the government, although there is some dispute over whether they left in protest or whether they were forced out by the National Guard. The 1960 constitution fell apart and communal violence ensued. Turkey, Great Britain and Greece, the guarantors of the agreements which had led to Cyprus's independence, wanted to send a NATO force to the island under the command of General Peter Young.[citation needed]

Between 21 and 26 December 1963, the conflict centered in the Omorphita suburb of Nicosia, which had been an area of tension in 1958. The participants now were Greek Cypriot irregulars and Turkish Cypriot civilians and former TMT members, known as the "fighters" during the Cyprus problem, the Turkish fighters were less powerful, outnumbered and were held down in "ghettos" from the superior Greek Cypriot side who were supplied with stored EOKA guns and eventually guns from foreign powers. Many Greek and Turkish Cypriot civilians who were caught in the crossfire and chaos that ensued over the Christmas week were killed, others were massacred by Greek or Turkish irregulars and had their homes looted and burnt down in small villages as the problem developed. The government of Turkey used these events as an excuse to cancel the residence permits of 12,000 Greek citizens living in Istanbul leading to the confiscation of their property.[citation needed]

Both President Makarios and Dr. Küçük issued calls for peace, but these were ignored. Meanwhile, within a week of the violence flaring up, the Turkish army contingent had moved out of its barracks and seized the most strategic position on the island across the Nicosia to Kyrenia road, the historic jugular vein of the island. So crucial was this road to Turkish strategic thinking that they retained control of that road until 1974, at which time it acted as a crucial link in Turkey's military invasion. From 1963 up to the point of the Turkish invasion of 20 July 1974, Greek Cypriots who wanted to use the road could only do so if accompanied by a UN convoy.[citation needed]

700 Turkish hostages, including women and children, were taken from the northern suburbs of Nicosia. By 1964, 193 Turkish Cypriots and 133 Greek Cypriots were killed, with a further 209 Turks and 41 Greeks missing, presumed dead.[citation needed] The British Daily Telegraph later called it the "anti Turkish pogrom".[25]

Thereafter Turkey once again put forward the idea of partition. The intensified fighting especially around areas under the control of Turkish Cypriot militias, as well as the failure of the constitution were used as justification for a possible Turkish invasion. Turkey was on the brink of invading when US president Johnson stated, in his famous letter of 5 June 1964, that the US was against a possible invasion and stated that he would not come to the aid of Turkey if an invasion of Cyprus led to conflict with the Soviet Union.[26] One month later, within the framework of a plan prepared by the US Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, negotiations with Greece and Turkey began.[27]

After 1963–64 crisis, the Turkish population began to form enclaves in different areas that were blockaded by the National Guard and were directly supported by Turkey. In response to this, their movement and access to basic supplies became more restricted by Greek forces.[28] Fighting broke out again in 1967 as the Turkish Cypriots pushed for more freedom of movement. Once again, this was only settled after Turkey threatened to invade on the basis that they would be protecting the Turkish population from possible ethnic cleansing by Greek Cypriot forces. In order to avoid this, a compromise was reached in which Greece was forced to remove some of its troops from the island, Georgios Grivas, leader of the EOKA had to leave Cyprus, and the Cypriot government lifted some restrictions of movement and access to supplies of the Turkish populations.[29]

Greek military coup and Turkish invasion

Greek military coup of July 1974

In the spring of 1974, Greek Cypriot intelligence discovered that EOKA-B was planning a coup against President Makarios[30] which was sponsored by the military junta of Athens.[31]

The junta had come to power in a military coup in 1967 which was condemned by the whole of Europe but had the support of the United States. In the autumn of 1973 after the 17 November student uprising there had been a further coup in Athens in which the original Greek junta had been replaced by one still more obscurantist headed by the Chief of Military Police, Brigadier Ioannides, though the actual head of state was General Phaedon Gizikis. Ioannides believed that Makarios was no longer a true supporter of enosis, and suspected him of being a communist sympathizer.[31] This led Ioannides to support the EOKA-B and National Guard as they tried to undermine Makarios.[32]

On 2 July 1974, Makarios wrote an open letter to President Gizikis complaining bluntly that 'cadres of the Greek military regime support and direct the activities of the 'EOKA-B' terrorist organization'.[citation needed] He also ordered that Greece remove some 600 Greek officers in the Cypriot National Guard from Cyprus.[33] The Greek Government's immediate reply was to order the go-ahead of the coup. On 15 July 1974 sections of the Cypriot National Guard, led by its Greek officers, overthrew the government.[31]

Makarios narrowly escaped death in the attack. He fled the presidential palace by catching a taxi after escorting a party of school children out of the building and went to Paphos, where the British managed to retrieve him by Westland Whirlwind[citation needed] helicopter in the afternoon of 16 July and flew him from Akrotiri to Malta in an Royal Air Force Armstrong Whitworth Argosy[citation needed] transport and from there to London by de Havilland Comet the next morning.[31]

In the meantime, Nikos Sampson was declared provisional president of the new government. Sampson was a Greek ultra nationalist who was known to be fanatically anti-Turkish and had taken part in violence against Turkish civilians in earlier conflicts.[31][34]

The Sampson regime took over radio stations and declared that Makarios had been killed,[31] but Makarios, safe in London, was soon able to counteract these reports.[35] In the coup itself, an estimated 650 people were killed or wounded , but in the days following, as many as 2,000 Makarios supporters, including many members of AKEL, the communist political party, were killed and many more were jailed [36] At this phase, the main targets of the coup forces were Makarios supporters and other political opponents. Ethnic violence committed by both sides became prevalent later in the conflict.[citation needed]

In response to the coup, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger sent Joseph Sisco to try to mediate the conflict.[31] Turkey issued a list of demands to Greece via a US negotiator. These demands included the immediate removal of Nikos Sampson, the withdrawal of 650 Greek officers from the Cypriot National Guard, the admission of Turkish troops to protect their population, equal rights for both populations, and access to the sea from the northern coast for Turkish Cypriots.[37] These demands were rejected as they would have given Turkey an unacceptable amount of power on the island. Turkey, led by Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, then applied to Britain as a signatory of the Treaty of Guarantee to take action to return Cyprus to its neutral status. Britain declined this offer, and refused to let Turkey use its bases on Cyprus as part of the operation.[38]

Turkish first invasion- July 1974

Location of Turkish forces during the late hours of July 20, 1974.

Turkey invaded Cyprus on Saturday, 20 July 1974. Heavily armed troops landed shortly before dawn at Kyrenia (Girne) on the northern coast meeting resistance from Greek and Greek Cypriot forces. Ankara said that it was invoking its right under the Treaty of Guarantee to protect the Turkish Cypriots and guarantee the independence of Cyprus [39] The operation, codenamed 'Operation Atilla', is known in the North as 'the 1974 Peace Operation'.

Turkish forces primarily used a clear and hold strategy, forcing many Greek Cypriots to flee to the south.[citation needed] By the time a ceasefire was agreed three days later, Turkish troops held 3% of the territory of Cyprus. Five thousand Greek Cypriots had fled their homes.[citation needed]

By the time the UN Security Council was able to obtain a ceasefire on the 22 July the Turkish forces had only secured a narrow corridor between Kyrenia and Nicosia, which they succeeded in widening during the next few days in violation of that ceasefire, demanded in Resolution 353.[40]

On 23 July 1974 the Greek military junta collapsed mainly because of the events in Cyprus. Greek political leaders in exile started returning to the country. On 24 July 1974 Constantine Karamanlis returned from Paris and was sworn in as Prime Minister. He decided against further military involvement as the Turkish forces were much stronger.[41] Shortly after this Nikos Sampson renounced the presidency and Glafcos Clerides temporarily took the role of president.[42]

The first round of peace talks took place in Geneva, Switzerland from July 25–30, 1974, which the representateive of the Greek-Cypriots, Glafcos Clerides, the representative of the Turkish-Cypriots, Rauf Denktaş, and the Turkish Foreign Minister, Turan Güneş participated in. The talks fell apart as a compromise was unable to be reached. At the second round of peace talks that started on 14 August 1974, Turkey demanded from the Cypriot government to accept its plan for a federal state, and population transfer.[43] When the Cypriot acting president Clerides asked for 36 to 48 hours in order to consult with Athens and with Greek Cypriot leaders, the Turkish Foreign Minister denied Clerides that opportunity on the grounds that Makarios and others would use it to play for more time.[44]

Turkish second invasion- 14-16 August 1974

The Turkish Foreign Minister Turan Güneş had said to the Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, When I say "Ayşe is going on vacation" (Turkish: "Ayşe Tatile Çıksın"[dn 1]), it will mean that our armed forces are ready to go into action. Even if the telephone line is tapped, that would rouse no suspicion.[45] An hour and a half after the conference broke up, Turan Güneş called Ecevit and said the code word. On August 14 Turkey launched its "Second Peace Operation", to gain control of 40 percent of Cyprus. Britain's then foreign secretary and soon to be prime minister James Callaghan, later disclosed that U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger "vetoed" at least one British military action to pre-empt the Turkish landing. Turkish troops rapidly occupied even more than was asked for at Geneva.[citation needed] 40% of the land came under Turkish occupation reaching as far south as the Louroujina Salient. In the process, many Greek Cypriots became refugees. The Cypriot government estimates their numbers at about 200,000,[46] with other sources stating 140,000 to 160,000.[47] Many of them were forced out of their homes by the Turkish army which has been acknowledged by the European Court of Human Rights in four interstate applications between Cyprus and Turkey as well as in other cases as in the case of Loizidou vs Turkey), the rest fleeing at the word of the approaching Turkish army. The ceasefire line from 1974 today separates the two communities on the island, and is commonly referred to as the Green Line.

After the conflict, Cypriot representatives and the United Nations consented to the transfer of the remainder of the 51,000 Turkish Cypriots that had not left their homes in the south to settle in the north, if they wished to do so.

The United Nations Security Council has challenged the legality of Turkey's action, because Article Four of the Treaty of Guarantee gives the right to guarantors to take action with the sole aim of re-establishing the state of affairs.[48] The aftermath of Turkey's invasion, however, did not safeguard the Republic's sovereignty and territorial integrity, but had the opposite effect: the de facto partitioning of the Republic, the creation of a separate political entity in the north On 13 February 1975, Turkey declared the occupied areas of the Republic of Cyprus to be a "Federated Turkish State" to the universal condemnation of the international community (see UN Security Council Resolution 367(1975))[49]. The United Nations recognizes the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus according to the terms of its independence in 1960. The conflict continues to affect Turkey's relations with Cyprus, Greece and the European Union.

Atrocities and Human right abuses

Atrocities towards the civilian Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities had been committed by both sides.

Atrocities against Turkish Cypriots

Turkish Cypriot corpses after the Maratha, Santalaris and Aloda massacre, committed by EOKA-B on 14 August 1974

Atrocities against the Turkish Cypriot community had been committed before and during the invasion of the island. For instance, Greek historian Ronaldos Kaçaunis stated that he was an eye witness to the murder and communal burial of 32 Turkish Cypriots civilians in the year 1963 in Magosa.[50] [51] Contemporanous newspapers also reported about the forceful exodus of the Turkish Cypriots from their homes. According to the Times journal issued in the year 1964, threats, shootings and attempts of arson are committed against the Turkish Cypriots to force them out of their homes.[52] Daily Express wrote that "25,000 Turks have already been forced to leave their homes"[53] The Guardian reported a massacre of Turks at Limassol on 16 February 1964.[54]

The de-facto president of Cyprus Nikos Sampson, in an interview with the Greek newspaper Eleftherotipia on 26 February 1981, said that: Had Turkey not intervened, I would not only have proclaimed Enosis but I would have annihilated the Turks in Cyprus as well.'[55]

There were also massacres against the Turkish Cypriots during the invasion of the island, including the Maratha, Santalaris and Aloda massacre, in which 126 people were killed on 14 August 1974[56][57] and the Tochni (Taşkent) massacre.[58] A veteran member of the EOKA B, Andreas Dimitriu, stated in an interview that EOKA B worked in conjunction with the Greek Cypriot officials at the time to murder 89 Turkish Cypriots at Taşkent.[59] Washington Post covered another news of atrocity in which it is written that: "In a Greek raid on a small Turkish village near Limassol, 36 people out of a population of 200 were killed. The Greeks said that they had been given orders to kill the inhabitants of the Turkish villages before the Turkish forces arrived."[60]

The Republic of Cyprus has been found guilty of violations of the European Convention of Human Rights. In the case of Aziz v. Cyprus, the European Court of Human Rights decided on 22 September 2004 that the Republic of Cyprus violated Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights and Article 3 of its Protocol No.1 by preventing Aziz, a Turkish Cypriot who is citizen of the Republic of Cyprus from exercising his right to vote in 2001 parliamentary elections.[61] In compliance with the European Court of Human Rights ruling, all Turkish Cypriots living in the areas under the control of the Republic of Cyprus were granted a right to vote in all elections. However, they still cannot run in presidential elections.

Atrocities against Greek Cypriots

Ethnic cleansing

The Turkish policy of forcing a third of the island's Greek population from their homes in the occupied North, preventing their return and settling Turks from the mainland there is considered an example of ethnic cleansing.[62][63][64][65][66][67][68][69][70][71][72][73][74][75]

According to historian Brad R. Roth writing in a volume published by Oxford University Press:

This is the case of Cyprus, where external guarantors were reserved "the right to take action" to preserve a constitutional arrangement providing for power- sharing between the two ethnic groups that together comprised the Cypriot political community. In 1974, Turkey invoked the treaty as a justification (or pretext) for invading Cyprus. a move that, although plausibly provoked by predatory designs of the extra-constitutional Cypriot leadership in collusion with Greece, led to a partition of the country accompanied by measures now known as "ethnic cleansing".[76]

According to historian Thomas M. Franck writing in a volume published by Cambridge University Press:

Once its objective had been achieved by the collapse of the Greek junta, however, Turkey went on to occupy a disproportionate part of the island, precipitating large-scale ethnic cleansing The UN system, although of necessity positioning its peacekeepers along the resultant line of demarcation forged by events beyond its control, firmly rejected – and, almost three decades later still rejects — the island's forcible partition in violation of the "territorial integrity" endorsed both by the Council and Assembly.[77]

According to historians David A. Lake and Donald S. Rothchild writing in a volume published by Princeton University Press:

In Cyprus, the ethnic cleansing of the northern part of the island and its secession as the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has not received international recognition, beyond Turkey (Richarte 1995).[78]

In 1976 and again in 1983, the European Commission of Human Rights found Turkey guilty of repeated violations of the European Convention of Human Rights. Turkey has been condemned for preventing the return of Greek Cypriot refugees to their properties.[79] The European Commission of Human Rights reports of 1976 and 1983 state the following:

"Having found violations of a number of Articles of the Convention, the Commission notes that the acts violating the Convention were exclusively directed against members of one of two communities in Cyprus, namely the Greek Cypriot community. It concludes by eleven votes to three that Turkey has thus failed to secure the rights and freedoms set forth in these Articles without discrimination on the grounds of ethnic origin, race, religion as required by Article 14 of the Convention."

The 20,000[citation needed] Greek Cypriots who were enclaved in the occupied Karpass Peninsula in 1975 were subjected by the Turks to violations of their human rights so that by 2001 when the European Court of Human Rights found Turkey guilty of the violation of 14 articles of the European Convention of Human Rights in its judgement of Cyprus v. Turkey (application no. 25781/94) less than 600 still remained. In the same judgement Turkey was found guilty of violating the rights of the Turkish Cypriots by authorising the trial of civilians by a military court.

Since the Turkish invasion, a large number of Turks have been brought to the north from Anatolia in violation of Article 49 of the Geneva Convention and hence a war crime, to occupy the homes of the Greek Cypriot refugees.[64][65]

Approximately 70,000 Turkish Cypriots have been forced to emigrate from the north due to economic hardships brought on by the international isolation of Northern Cyprus.[citation needed]

Missing persons

The issue of missing persons in Cyprus took a dramatic new turn in the summer of 2007 when the UN-sponsored Committee on Missing Persons (CMP)[80] began returning remains of identified missing individuals to their families (see end of section).

Greek Cypriot prisoners taken to Adana camps Turkey.

On 5 October 1994, the US Senate unanimously adopted an Act to ascertain the fate of five US citizens missing since the Turkish invasion. Following this, the US President appointed Ambassador Robert Dillon, who came to Cyprus to carry out investigations. The grave of Andreas Kasapis[81], one of the 84 missing persons from the village of Assia[citation needed][82], was discovered in January 1998 in the Turkish occupied area of Northern Cyprus and his remains were sent to the US for DNA testing and identified, yet the Turkish side has still failed to provide reliable information as to the fate of another 1587 Greek Cypriots.[citation needed]

Facts and information on the death and the burial site of 201 out of 500 cases of Turkish Cypriot missing persons were provided by the Cyprus government on 12 May 2003.[citation needed]

On 6 December 2002, excavations at the village of Alaminos, led to the discovery of human remains, which according to existing testimonies, belonged to Turkish Cypriots who lost their lives during a fire exchange with a unit of the National Guard, on 20 July 1974.[citation needed]

Exhumations carried out by British experts in the occupied village of Trachonas which was a burial site designated by the Turkish side in 1998 were completed on 11 January 2005, but failed to locate any remains belonging to Greek Cypriots listed as missing. After this failure the Cyprus government raised questions over the willingness of the Turkish side to resolve this humanitarian issue.[citation needed]

However, since 2004, the whole issue of missing persons in Cyprus took a dramatic new turn after the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP)[citation needed][83] designed and started to implement (as from August 2006) its project on the Exhumation, Identification and Return of Remains of Missing Persons. The whole project is being implemented by bi-communal teams of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriot scientists (archaeologists, anthropologists and geneticists) under the overall responsibility of the CMP. By the end of 2007, 57 individuals had been identified and their remains returned to their families.[citation needed]

Destruction of cultural heritage

In 1989, the government of Cyprus took an American art dealer to court for the return of four rare 6th century Byzantine mosaics that survived an edict by the Emperor of Byzantium, imposing the destruction of all images of sacred figures. Cyprus won the case, and the mosaics were eventually returned.[84] In October 1997, Aydın Dikmen, who had sold the mosaics, was arrested in Germany in a police raid and found to be in possession of a stash consisting of mosaics, frescoes and icons dating back to the 6th, 12th and 15th centuries worth over $50 million. The mosaics, depicting Saints Thaddeus and Thomas, are two more sections from the apse of the Kanakaria Church, while the frescoes, including the Last Judgement and the Tree of Jesse, were taken off the north and south walls of the Monastery of Antiphonitis, built between the 12th and 15th centuries.[85]

According to a Greek Cypriot claim, since 1974, at least 55 churches have been converted into mosques and another 50 churches and monasteries have been converted into stables, stores, hostels, museums, or have been demolished.[86] According to the government spokesman of the de facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, this has been done to keep the buildings from falling into ruin.[87]

In January 2011, the British singer Boy George returned an 18th century icon of Christ to the Church of Cyprus that he had bought without knowing the origin of. The icon, which had adorned his home for 26 years, had been looted from the church of St Charalampus from the village of New Chorio, near Kythrea, in 1974. The icon was noticed by church officials during a television interview of Boy George at his home. The church contacted the singer who agreed to return the icon at Saints Anargyroi Church, Highgate, north London.[88][89][90]

Turkish settlers

As a result of the Turkish invasion, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, stated that the demographic structure of the island has been continuously modified as a result of the deliberate policies of the Turks. Following the occupation of Northern Cyprus, civilian settlers from Turkey began arriving on the island. Despite the lack of consensus on the exact figures, all parties concerned admitted that Turkish nationals began systematically arriving in the northern part of the island in 1975. It was suggested that over 120,000 settlers were brought into Cyprus from mainland Turkey.[91] This was despite Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an occupier from transferring or deporting parts of its own civilian population into an occupied territory.

UN Resolution 1987/19 (1987) of the "Sub-Commission On Prevention Of Discrimination And Protection Of Minorities" which was adopted on 2 September 1987 demanded "the full restoration of all human rights to the whole population of Cyprus, including the freedom of movement, the freedom of settlement and the right to property" and also expressed "its concern also at the policy and practice of the implantation of settlers in the occupied territories of Cyprus which constitute a form of colonialism and attempt to change illegally the demographic structure of Cyprus".

In a report prepared by Mete Hatay on behalf of PRIO, the Oslo peace center, it was estimated that the number of Turkish mainlanders in the north who have been granted the right to vote is 37,000. This figure however excludes mainlanders who are married to Turkish Cypriots or adult children of Mainland Settlers as well as all minors. The report also estimates the number of Turkish mainlanders who have not been granted the right to vote, whom it labels as "transients", at a further 105,000.[92]


Turkish Cypriot opinions

Turkish Cypriot opinion quotes Archbishop Makarios III, who whilst ruling a government they did not approve of, at least did not support immediate enosis. Makarios described the coup which replaced him as "An Invasion of Cyprus by Greece" in his speech to the UN security council and stated that there were "no prospects" of success in the talks aimed at resolving the situation between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, as long as the leaders of the coup, sponsored and supported by Greece, were in power.[93]

Turks often claim that the Council of Europe supported the legality of the invasion by Turkey in its resolution of the 29 July 1974.[citation needed] They claim that the Court of Appeal in Athens stated that the invasion was legal and that "The real culprits... are the Greek officers who engineered and staged a coup and prepared the conditions for the invasion".[94]

"Turkey exercised its right of intervention in accordance with Article IV of the Guarantee Treaty."[citation needed]

Greek Cypriot opinions

The Republic of Cyprus established after the militant struggle against the British was a compromise to Turkish minority who wanted to see the island under Turkey's control. That becomes evident through today's occupation of 36% of the island having as a "justification" that Turkey's forceful presence is to restore constitutional order, 33 years ago.

Since 1974 Turkey has occupied 36% of the island and claims that her presence is to secure the rights of the Turkish Cypriots. Greek Cypriots argue that all these are diplomatic ploys, furthered by ultra nationalist Turkish militants to justify Turkey's expansionist objective.

Turkey's support for partition through the forced displacement of populations is revealed in the Galo Plaza report of 1965 and in its demands during negotiations with the British over Cyprus independence and the so called Acheson plan which would have divided Cyprus between Turkey and Greece.

Turks seeking to justify the Turkish invasion, often refer to a few isolated judgements which may, taken out of context, appear to go against the grain. They often refer to a purported judgement of the Standing Committee of the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe (resolution 532/1974), dated 29 July 1974, which stated the following:

The key feature of the statement purportedly made at the CoE is the date at which is was made. At the time of the statement, it was not yet absolutely apparent that Turkey, rather than using its right of intervention as a Guarantor power, was acting contrary to it, under its guise.

Critically, following the date, the Greek junta had collapsed and the democratic government of the Republic of Cyprus was restored under Glafkos Clerides leaving further "intervention" unwarranted. Nevertheless, there followed a second wave of Turkish invasion which was universally condemned and revealed the underlying motivations behind the first wave.

Whereas the first wave of military action was and still is said (by many Turks) to have been carried out in accordance with the right of intervention, the second wave of military action revealed that Turkey's right of intervention was used as little more than a guise for an invasion. The second phase of the Turkish invasion was characterised by a disproportionate use of violence and disproportionate occupation of territory (in relation to the ethnic populations) Ultimately, the right of intervention to protect the sovereignty, integrity and independence of the Republic of Cyprus was abused as those goals were undermined by Turkey's creation of an internationally unrecognised pseudo-state, the TRNC, and the stationing of 40000 Turkish troops on sovereign territory of the Republic of Cyprus, in violation of all resolutions of the United Nations.

The decision reflected the mood and attitude towards the Greek junta which was itself exogenous to the Republic of Cyprus. It is for this reason that President Makarios, in his speech to the UN Security Council on 19 July 1974, described the coup which replaced him as "...an Invasion of Cyprus by Greece..." and called for the restoration of the democratic government.[93]

At least 180,000 Greek Cypriot refugees were created by the invasion. They are still denied their basic human rights,[citation needed] including right of access to and use of their property. Greek Cypriots also wish that the 40000 Turkish troops in northern Cyprus (about 1 soldier per 3 civilians living in Turkish occupied territory) return to Turkey and many wish that the Turkish settlers, placed there by Turkey as part of its long term plan of Turkish expansionism, also return to Turkey.[citation needed]

Many Greek Cypriots have long believed that the NATO powers, notably Britain and America, were against the idea of an independent Cyprus because of fears that it could fall into communist hands and become a "Mediterranean Cuba".[citation needed]

Negotiations and other developments

Ongoing negotiations

See Cyprus Negotiations.

The United Nations Security Council decisions for the immediate unconditional withdrawal of all foreign troops from Cyprus soil and the safe return of the refugees to their homes have not been implemented by Turkey and the TRNC.[95] Turkey and TRNC defend their position, stating that any such withdrawal would have led to a resumption of intercommunal fighting and killing.

Negotiations to find a solution to the Cyprus problem have been taking place on and off since 1964. Between 1974 and 2002, the Turkish Cypriot side (effectively controlled by the Turkish government) was seen by the international community as the side refusing a balanced solution. Since 2002, the situation has been reversed according to US and UK officials, and the Greek Cypriot side rejected a plan which would have called for the dissolution of the Republic of Cyprus without guarantees that the Turkish occupation forces would be removed. The latest Annan Plan to reunify the island which was endorsed by the United States, United Kingdom and Turkey was accepted by a referendum by Turkish Cypriots but overwhelmingly rejected in parallel referendum by Greek Cypriots, after Greek Cypriot Leadership and Greek Orthodox Church urging the Greek population to vote No.[96]

Greek Cypriots rejected the UN settlement plan in an April 2004 referendum. On 24 April 2004, the Greek Cypriots rejected by a three-to-one margin the plan proposed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the settlement of the Cyprus dispute. The plan, which was approved by a two-to-one margin by the Turkish Cypriots in a separate but simultaneous referendum, would have created a United Cyprus Republic and ensured that the entire island would reap the benefits of Cyprus' entry into the European Union on 1 May. The plan would have created a United Cyprus Republic consisting of a Greek Cypriot constituent state and a Turkish Cypriot constituent state linked by a federal government. More than half of the Greek Cypriots who were displaced in 1974 and their descendants would have had their properties returned to them and would have lived in them under Greek Cypriot administration within a period of 31/2 to 42 months after the entry into force of the settlement. For those whose property could not be returned, they would have received monetary compensation.

The entire island entered the EU on 1 May 2004 still divided, although the EU acquis communautaire – the body of common rights and obligations – applies only to the areas under direct government control, and is suspended in the areas occupied by the Turkish military and administered by Turkish Cypriots. However, individual Turkish Cypriots able to document their eligibility for Republic of Cyprus citizenship legally enjoy the same rights accorded to other citizens of European Union states. Nicosia continues to oppose EU efforts to establish direct trade and economic links to occupied north Cyprus as a way of encouraging the Turkish Cypriot community to continue to support the resolution of the Cyprus dispute.

Declaration of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

In 1983 the subordinate local administration in the north declared independence under the name "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus". Immediately upon this declaration Britain convened a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to condemn the declaration as "legally invalid". United Nations Security Council Resolution 541 (1983) considered the "attempt to create the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus is invalid, and will contribute to a worsening of the situation in Cyprus". It went on to state that it "Considers the declaration referred to above as legally invalid and calls for its withdrawal".

Return of Varosha

In the following year UN resolution 550 (1984) condemned the "exchange of Ambassadors" between Turkey and the TRNC and went on to add that the Security Council "Considers attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the United Nations" [97]

To this day, neither Turkey nor the TRNC have complied with the above resolutions and Varosha remains uninhabited.[97]

In 22 July 2010, United Nations' International Court of Justice decided that "International law contains no prohibition on declarations of independence". In response to this non legally-binding direction, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said it "has nothing to do with any other cases in the world" including Cyprus.[98]

See also


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Further reading

Official publications and sources


  • Brendan O'Malley and Ian Craig, "The Cyprus Conspiracy" (London: IB Tauris 1999)
  • Christopher Hitchens, "Hostage to History: Cyprus from the Ottomans to Kissinger" (New York: Verso, 1997)
  • Christopher Hitchens, "The Trial of Henry Kissinger" (Verso, 2001)
  • Christopher Hitchens, "Cyprus" (Quartet, 1984)
  • Christopher Brewin, "European Union and Cyprus" (Huntingdon: Eothen Press, 2000)
  • Claude Nicolet, "United States Policy Towards Cyprus, 1954–1974" (Mannheim: Bibliopolis, 2001)
  • Dudley Barker, "Grivas, Portrait of a Terrorist" (New York Harcourt: Brace and Company 2005)
  • Farid Mirbagheri, "Cyprus and International Peacemaking" (London: Hurst, 1989)
  • James Ker-Lindsay, "EU Accession and UN Peacemaking in Cyprus" (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005)
  • Pierre Oberling, "The Road to Bellapais: the Turkish Cypriot exodus to northern Cyprus" (Social Science Monographs, 1982)
  • Nancy Cranshaw, "The Cyprus Revolt: An Account of the Struggle for Union with Greece" (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1978)
  • Oliver Richmond, "Mediating in Cyprus" (London: Frank Cass, 1998)
  • The Lobby for Cyprus study group, Origins of the present crisis – 1950s to 1970s
  • Christos P. Ioannides, "In Turkey's image: The transformation of occupied Cyprus into a Turkish province", (New Rochelle, NY: Caratzas, 1991)
  • Dr. Stavros Panteli, "The history of modern Cyprus", Topline Publishing, ISBN 0-948853-32-8

Other sources

External links

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