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The Turkish invasion of Cyprus, launched on 20 July 1974, was a Turkishmarker military operation in response to a Greek military junta backed coup in Cyprusmarker which had been staged by the Cypriot National Guard whose leaders deposed the Cypriot president and archbishop Makarios III and installed Nikos Sampson in his place. The Turkish invasion, codenamed Operation Atilla, took place in two stages and ended in August 1974, when Turkish troops occupied 37% of the island's territory, which was followed by the establishment of the de facto Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprusmarker that only Turkeymarker recognizes, in contradiction of the terms of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee. Both the United Statesmarker and NATOmarker supported the idea of a Turkish military intervention . Intercommunal strife that preceded the invasion had brought Greecemarker and Turkeymarker, two NATO allies, to the brink of total war in a number of occasions between 1963 and 1974; the most serious clash was prevented through the last minute mediation of the U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson on June 5, 1964. The Greek side has traditionally blamed the U.S. administration of President Richard Nixon, and in particular Henry Kissinger, for supporting Turkey before and during the Turkish military invasion, following a decision by the U.S. National Security Council in May 1974 to bring an end to the Cyprus problem.

The invasion came after intercommunal conflict between the island's Greek Cypriot majority and Turkish Cypriot minority, resulting from the constitutional breakdown of 1963. Turkey claims that she invoked her role as a guarantor under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee in justification for it. The constitutional breakdown of 1963 and 1964, the Turkish invasion of 1974, the displacement of 180.000 Greek Cypriots from the occupied areas and the establishment of the self-declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprusmarker in 1983, form the core issues surrounding the Cyprus dispute.

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. The aftermath of Turkey's invasion, however, did not safeguard the Republic's sovereignty and territorial integrity, but had the opposite effect; such as the de facto partitioning of the Republic in two, the creation of a separate political entity in the north and the forceful expulsion of Greek Cypriots from it. A large number of Turkish Cypriots, many of whom were forced to live in isolated enclaves and ghettoes throughout the island during the intercommunal violence between 1963 and 1974, chose to leave their homes in the south and moved to the north after 1974. The United Nations still recognizes the sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprusmarker according to the terms of its independence in 1960. The conflict continues to affect Turkeymarker's relations with Cyprusmarker, Greecemarker and the European Union.

Events leading up to the Turkish Invasion

In 1571, the island was conquered by the Ottomans. The island of Cyprusmarker and its majority Greek population were generally allowed to practice their religion and culture under the rule of the Ottoman Turks for approximately 307 years until the island was leased to Britain following the Congress of Berlin in 1878. Cyprus was later annexed by Britain 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 and came under British rule. The 1923 Treaty of Lausanne marked the end of any notion of a legitimate 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 staying there as British nationals.
Map showing the current division of the Republic of Cyprus
Both Greek and Turkish Cypriots were happy to identify themselves with their respective 'mother countries'. However, the elites of both 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.

Broadly, three main forces - education, British colonial practices, and secularization accompanying economic development - can be held responsible for transforming two ethnic communities into two national ones. Education was perhaps the most important, for it affected Cypriots during childhood and youth, the period of greatest susceptibility to outside influences. The two communities adopted the educational policies of Greece and Turkey, respectively, resulting in the nationalist indoctrination of their youth. The schools polarized Cypriots in at least two ways. The segregated school systems of the colonial and post-independence period socialized students into Greek and Turkish ethnicity, teaching mainland speech, culture, folklore, and nationalist myths. The texts used in these schools also included ethnic propaganda, often highly chauvinistic, with each community emphasizing its superiority over the other.

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. For example, when Greek Cypriots rebelled in the 1950s, the colonial administration established an all-Turkish police force, known as the Auxiliary Police, to combat Greek Cypriots. This and similar practices contributed to intercommunal animosity.

Secularization also fostered ethnic nationalism. 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, Kemal Atatürk (1881-1938), 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 a program of six principles (the "Six Arrows") to do so. His 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. Under Ottoman rule, Turkish Cypriots had been classified as Muslims, a distinction based on religion. Being thoroughly secular, Atatürk's program made their Turkishness paramount and may have further reinforced their division from their Greek Cypriot neighbors.

Many Greek Cypriots have long believed that the NATO powers, notably Britain and America, were opposed to the idea of an independent Cyprus because of fears that it could fall into communist hands and become a "Mediterranean Cuba" - a scenario that would have put at risk British electronic spying bases on the island.

The objective of EOKA (Ethniki Organosis Kyprion Agoniston, or National Organisation of Cypriot Fighters) was to drive the British out of the island first and then integrate the island to Greece. As a Greek nationalist organization, some members of EOKA murdered Turkish Cypriots who were thought to have colluded with the British. EOKA wished to remove all obstacles, British, Greek Cypriot or Turkish Cypriot, on the path to independence or even union with Greece. EOKA initiated its activities by planting the first bombs on 1 April 1951 with the directive by Greek Foreign Minister Stefanopoulos .

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 Athensmarker 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 shipment to Cyprus started to 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. EOKA's campaign of asymmetric resistance to British colonialism was properly under way.

The first Turk to be killed by EOKA on 21 June 1955 was a Turkish policeman. EOKA also targeted Greek collaborators.

The opposition to the Turkish minority in Cyprus, triggered attacks against the Greek minority in Istanbul. On 6 and 7 September 1955, wide-scale violence against the Greek community of Istanbul, believed to have been engineered by the Turkish government of then Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, destroyed an estimated 3-4,000 shops and precipitated the exodus of thousands of ethnic Greeks from the city in 1955.

A year later, EOKA revived its attempts to liberate Cyprus from British rule. In reply the TMT (Türk Mukavemet Teşkilatı, a Turkish Resistance Organization) declared war on the Greek Cypriot rebels as well. After a joint mass demonstration by Greek and Turkish Cypriots, the TMT began murdering Turkish trade union members.

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 in order to falsely put the blame of the Greek Cypriots and prevent independence negotiations from succeeding It also began a string of assassinations and murders of prominent Turkish Cypriot supporters of independenceThe 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 which was caught red-handed in the infamous "Deniz" incident. British rule lasted until 1960, when the island was declared an independent state, under the London-Zurich agreements creating a foundation for the Republic of Cyprus by the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot communities.

Continued communal violence in Cyprus after independence in 1960—including massacres of members of the Turkish community in December 1963—led to the Turkish government’s cancellation of residence permits for 12,000 Greek citizens living in Istanbul as well as the confiscation of their property.

When the Cypriot leader who was exiled out of the UK previously in 1956 on the basis of his "support on terrorism and being the greatest obstacle on the path of peace", threatened in November 1963 to amend basic articles of the 1960 constitution guaranteeing the rights of ethnic Turks on the island, communal violence ensued and Turkey, Great Britainmarker and Greecemarker, 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.

The reluctant Republic was seen as a necessary compromise between two communities.

The 1960 Constitution of the Cyprus Republic proved unworkable however, lasting only three years. The Greek Cypriots wanted to end the separate Turkish Cypriot municipal councils permitted by the British in 1958, but 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 following Hellenistic fanaticism wanted enosis, integration with Greece, while Turkish Cypriots following Turkish fanaticism wanted taksim, partition between Greece and Turkey.

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. The disproportionate number of ministers and legislators assigned to the Turkish Cypriots meant that their representatives could veto budgets or legislation and prevent essential government operations from being carried out. Moreover, they complained that a Turkish Cypriot veto on the budget (in response to alleged failures to meet obligations to the Turkish Cypriots) made government immensely difficult. The Turkish Cypriots had also vetoed the amalgamation of Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot troops into the same units.

In December 1963, after the government was repeatedly forced into deadlock and all major legislation and the budget were repeatedly vetoed by the Turkish Cypriot legislators at the behest of Turkey, the President of the Republic Makarios proposed some constitutional amendments to facilitate the functioning of the state. The Greek Cypriots subsequently said that the Turkish Cypriot Governmental Ministers withdrew from the Cabinet and the Turkish public servants ceased attending their offices. Turkish accusations claim that the Akritas Plan followed as a plan designed to end the new Republic by quickly suppressing Turkish Cypriot reactions to `imposed' constitutional change before outside invasion could be mounted .The Turkish Cypriot community claimed that when they objected to the proposed amendments, they were forced out of their governmental offices by the Greek Cypriots, with the support of Greek forces.

Minutes before the Turkish troops landed on the island, the Turkish Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit declared: "We are going to Cyprus not for war, but to bring peace; and not only for the Turkish Cypriots, but also for the Greek Cypriots as well. We hope there will be no resistance to our forces."

Turkish Cypriot opinions

The Turkish Cypriots stated that after their rejection of the constitutional amendments in 1962, they were not only forced out (at gunpoint) of their positions in the government , but were also forced off their land (which at that time was about 31%) and pushed into scattered enclaves (making up only 4%) which was then taken over by Greek Cypriots and Greek Settlers from Greece. Greek Cypriot forces - supported by EOKA and Greek junta military 'advisors' - further pushed this policy. Credence to these historically proven acts of ethnic cleansing can be seen by the 1964 Siege at Erenkoymarker.

Pan-Turkist claims regarding the Turks who were forced to leave or killed in Cretemarker under the terms of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne after its annexation by Greece in the late 19th century, also played a part; the slogan Giriti Hatirla! (Remember Crete!) was published on the front page of the Turkish newspaper Hürriyet.

In 2004, Greek Cypriot filmmaker Antonis Angastiniotis' historical documentary "Voice of Blood" portrays the mass killing of Turkish Cypriots in the villages of Aloa, Maratha and Sandalari in 1974.

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.

Turks often claim that the Council of Europe supported the legality of the invasion by Turkey in its resolution of the 29 July 1974. 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".

Greek Cypriot opinions

Following the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottoman Empire entered a long period of conquest and expansion, extending its borders deep into Europe and North Africa. The Island of Cyprusmarker and its overwhelming Greek population stayed approximately 307 years under Turkish rule until the island was leased to the British in 1878.Throughout the British rule, the islands inhabitants in their overwhelming majority demanded self determination, however the Britishmarker had no plans of providing that to the people of Cyprus. When in 1955 the overwhelming population fought against British colonialism (Greek Cypriots), created the militant organization TMT having as its central idea Taksim, which has a meaning as "to divide, division" in Turkish, division of Cyprus into two independent states. The British fostered division so that the island in effect remained under British control.

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 37% of the island having as a "justification" that Turkey's forceful presence is to restore constitutional order, 33 years ago.Since 1974 Turkey occupies 37% of the Republic of Cyprus and claims that her presence is to secure the rights of the Turkish Cypriots. Greek Cypriots argue that all these are diplomatic games to justify Turkeys expansionist objective by ultra nationalist Turkish militants.

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 :

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

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 disproportionare 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 " Invasion of Cyprus by Greece..." and called for the restoration of the democratic government.

At least 180.000 Greek Cypriot refugees were created by the invasion. They are still denied their basic human rights, including right of access to and use of their property. Greek Cypriots also wish that the 40000 Turkish troops in northern Cyprus (about 1 troops 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.

Greek military coup and Turkish invasion


Between 21 and 26 December 1963, the conflict centred in the Omorphita suburb of Nicosia, which had been an area of tension back 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. Both President Makarios and Dr. Kucuk issued calls of peace, but 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.

Kyle notes “there is no doubt that the main victims of the numerous incidents that took place during the next few months were Turks”. 700 Turkish hostages, including women and children, were taken from the northern suburbs of Nicosia. Nikos Sampson led a group of Greek Cypriot irregulars into the mixed suburb of Omorphita and massacred the Turkish Cypriot population indiscriminately . By 1964, 193 Turkish Cypriots and 133 Greek Cypriots were killed, with a further 209 Turks and 41 Greeks missing, presumed dead. The British Daily Telegraph called it the "anti Turkish pogrom".

Thereafter Turkey once again put forward the idea of partition. The intensified fighting especially around areas under the control of Turkish Cypriot militias, which on many occasions were initiated by Turkish gunmen, together with their claims that there had been a violation of the constitution, were used as ground for invasion. And quoting past treaties, Turkey hinted at a possible invasion on the island. US president Johnson stated, in his famous letter of 5 June 1964, that the US was against a possible invasion on the island, warning Turkey in a “bitter tone”. One month later, within the framework of a plan prepared by the US Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, negotiations with Greece and Turkey began.

Greek military coup of July 1974

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

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 Athensmarker 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.

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'. The Greek Government's immediate reply was to order the go-ahead to the conspiracy. On 15 July 1974 sections of the Cypriot National Guard, led by its Greek officers, overthrew the Government.

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 Pafosmarker, where the British managed to retrieve him and flew him out of the country in an RAF fighter jet.

In the meantime, Nikos Sampson was declared provisional president of the new government. 'Had Turkey not intervened,' Sampson told the Greek newspaper, Eleftherotipia, on 26.02.81, 'I would not only have proclaimed Enosis but I would have annihilated the Turks in Cyprus as well.'

Turkish invasion of Cyprus of July and August 1974

Location of Turkish forces during the late hours of July 20, 1974.
Turkey invaded Cyprus on 20 July 1974, after unsuccessfully trying to get support from one of the other guarantor forces - Britain. Heavily armed troops landed shortly before dawn at Kyrenia marker on the northern coast. Ankara claimed that it was invoking its right under the Treaty of Guarantee to protect the Turkish Cypriots and guarantee the independence of Cyprus. The operation, codenamed 'Operation Atilla', is known in the North as 'the 1974 Peace Operation'.

The invading forces landed off the northern coast of the island around Kyrenia. 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.

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.

On 23 July 1974 the Greek military junta collapsed mainly because of the events in Cyprus. Greek political leaders in exile started returning in the country. On 24 July 1974 Constantine Karamanlis returned from Paris and was sworn in as Prime Minister.

At a conference on 14 August 1974, Turkey demanded from the Cypriot government to accept its plan for a federal state, and population transfer. 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.

An hour and a half after the conference broke up, the new Turkish attack began. 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. 36.5% of the land came under Turkish occupation reaching as far south as the Louroujina salientmarker.In the process, many Greek Cypriots (who made up 82 per cent of the population in the north) became refugees. The Cypriot government estimates their numbers at about 200,000, with other sources stating 140,000 to 160,000. Many of them were forced out of their homes (violations of human rights by the Turkish army have been acknowledged by the European Court of Human Rightsmarker 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.
Villages and towns that are currently under Turkish control.
The ceasefire line from 1974 today separates the two communities on the island, and is commonly referred to as the Green Line.

By 1975, only 20,000 Greek Cypriots remained in the north, enclaved in the Karpass peninsulamarker.

Facing threats of a renewed Turkish offensive as well as threats to ethnically cleanse the enclaved Greek Cypriots the Cyprus government 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.

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)).

Ethnic cleansing

The Turkish programm 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, which in itself is a war crime, constitutes an example of ethnic cleansing.

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”.

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.

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).

Other Human rights violations

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. 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 Greek Cypriots who were enclaved in the occupied Karpass Peninsulamarker 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 judgment of Cyprus v. Turkey (application no. 25781/94) less than 600 still remained. In the same judgment Turkey was found guilty of violating the rights of the Turkish Cypriots by authorising the trial of civilians by a military court.

The Republic of Cyprus has also been found guilty of violations of the European Convention of Human Rights. In the case of Aziz v. Cyprus, the European Court of Human Rightsmarker decided on 22.09.2004 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. 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.

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.

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 Cyprusmarker.

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) 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 for the ascertainment of 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. Andreas Kasapis’ grave 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.

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.

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.

“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.”

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.

However, since 2004, the whole issue of missing persons in Cyprus took a dramatic new turn after the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) 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.

Destruction of cultural heritage

There have been mutual accusations of destruction of cultural heritages such as mosques and churches in both sides of the Island. In 1989, the government of Cyprus took an American art dealer to court for the return of four rare 6th century Byzantine mosaics which 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. In October 1997, Aydın Dikmen, who had sold the mosaics was finally 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 dollars. 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.

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. Despite the lack of consensus on the exact figures, all parties concerned admit that Turkish nationals have been systematically arriving in the northern part of the island. Some suggest, that over 120,000 settlers were brought into Cyprus from mainland Turkey. This was despite Article 49 of the Geneva Convention stating that "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."

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.

Negotiations and other developments

Ongoing 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. 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 Cyriot Leadership and Greek Orthodox Church urging the Greek population to vote No.

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 reunification of Cyprus. 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 back 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 reunification.

Cyprus joined the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM2) in May 2005, and eventually adopted the euro as its national currency on 1 January 2008.

See Cyprus Reunification Negotiations.

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 Varoshamarker by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of this area to the administration of the United Nations".

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

See also


  1. BBC: Turkey urges fresh Cyprus talks (2006-01-24)
  2. Telegram by Joseph Luns, Secretary General of NATO, to the United States Secretary of Defense regarding the agreement reached with the U.S. Undersecretary of State Joseph J. Sisco, envoy of Henry Kissinger, for supporting the Turkish military invasion in Cyprus. July 1974.
  3. Telegram sent by Henry Kissinger to the U.S. Ambassador in Cyprus regarding the decision of the United States National Security Council to bring an end to the Cyprus problem, May 1974.
  4. How Did the Situation Change after July 1974 ?, Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  6. [1], Press and Information office
  7. The Cyprus Revolt: An Account of the Struggle for Union with Greece, by Nancy Crawshaw (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1978), pp. 114-129.
  8. Roni Alasor, Sifreli Mesaj: “Trene bindir!, ISBN 960-03-3260-6
  9. Arif Hasan Tahsin, The rise of Dektash to power, ISBN 9963-7738-3-4
  10. Ecevit speech, 20 July 1974: "Biz aslında savaş için değil, barış için ve yalnız Türklere değil, Rumlara da barış götürmek için adaya gidiyoruz" (Bülent Ecevit, 20 July 1974)
  11. THE CYPRUS CHRONICLES 1958 – 1974, By Altan Houssein, "No sooner than arriving in Cyprus, Grivas went on the rampage attacking Erenköy (Kokkina) west of Yeşilırmak (Limnitis) with the approval of Makarios. The reason sighted for this attack being that it was the only Turkish held coastal settlement to which arms were brought in from Turkey. As usual the UN was left useless having been overrun by the Greek forces. The defendants at Erenköy against the might of the professional Greek army were a mere handful of 500 lightly armed Turkish Cypriot University students who were studying in Turkey – my father’s brother who passed away recently, Ertan Erkal was one such volunteer amongst well known great veterans like “Jimmy Keço” who until recently ran the famous Grapevine in Girne. All these young students were banned by the Greek Cypriot administration from returning to the island in the first place. The events surrounding the attack on Erenköy were relayed to the Turkish Government who sent in four F-100 fighter jets in support of the students. They flew over the area as it was reported that Greek patrol boats were shelling Erenköy from the sea despite protestations from the UN. Rockets were fired into the sea but the attacks continued. There was a news blackout by both the Greeks and the UN. Pleads for a cease-fire by the Turkish Government and the UN were futile – Makarios continued regardless. Continued attacks on the students at Erenköy were met by further Turkish flights this time firing on Greek targets killing a few Greeks as they fled. Makarios was said to be enraged by the Turkish attacks and announced on state radio that unprovoked indiscriminate attacks by the Turkish air force had left “thousands” of innocent Greeks dead. The Prime Minister of Greece warned Makarios to cease all acts of force against the Turkish Cypriots in the north. Makarios’s response was that all Greek Cypriots would “fight to the death” and on the 9th of August the Greek Cypriots renewed their onslaught against the Turkish Cypriots. Turkish jets returned and destroyed most armoured cars and gun sites in the vicinity of Polis, Limni, Kato Pyrgos, Alevga, Pomos, Pekhi Ammos and Erenköy. "
  13. Decision no. 2658/79 23rd March 1979
  14. Mehmet Ali Birand, "30 sıcak gün",March 1976
  15. Borowiec, Andrew (2000). Cyprus: a troubled island. New York: Praeger. pp. 2. ISBN 0-275-96533-3.
  16. Brown, Neville (2004). Global instability and strategic defence. New York: Routledge. pp. 48. ISBN 0-415-30413-X.
  17. Ted Galen Carpenter, Peace & freedom: foreign policy for a constitutional republic, Cato Institute, 2002, ISBN 1930865341, 9781930865341, p. 187
  18. Ted Galen Carpenter, NATO's empty victory: a postmortem on the Balkan War, Cato Institute, 2000, ISBN 188257785X, 9781882577859
  19. Jean S. Forward, Endangered peoples of Europe: struggles to survive and thrive The Greenwood Press "Endangered peoples of the world" series Endangered peoples of the world, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001, 0313310068, 9780313310065, p. 53
  20. Antony Evelyn Alcock, A history of the protection of regional cultural minorities in Europe: from the Edict of Nantes to the present day, Palgrave Macmillan, 2000. ISBN 0312235569, 9780312235567, p. 207
  21. Van Coufoudakis, Eugene T. Rossides, American Hellenic Institute Foundation, 2002, ISBN 1889247057, 9781889247052, p. 236
  22. William Mallinson, Bill Mallinson, Cyprus: a modern history , I.B.Tauris, 2005, ISBN 1850435804, 9781850435808, p. 147
  23. .Robert F. Holland, Britain and the revolt in Cyprus, 1954-1959, Oxford University Press, 1998, ISBN 0198205384, 9780198205388
  24. University of Minnesota. Modern Greek Studies Program, Modern Greek studies yearbook, Τόμος 9, University of Minnesota, 1993, p.577
  25. David J. Whittaker, Conflict and reconciliation in the contemporary world, Making of the contemporary world, Routledge, 1999, ISBN 0415183278, 9780415183277, p. 52
  26. Miron Rezun, Europe's nightmare: the struggle for Kosovo, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2001, ISBN 0275970728, 9780275970727
  27. Dimitris Keridis, Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, Kokkalis Foundation, NATO and southeastern Europe: security issues for the early 21st century A publication of the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis & the Kokkalis Foundation, Brassey's, 2000, ISBN 1574882899, 9781574882896, p.187
  28. Brad R. Roth, Governmental illegitimacy in international law, Oxford University Press, 2001, 0199243018, 9780199243013, p. 193
  29. Thomas M. Franck, Recourse to force: state action against threats and armed attacks, vol. 15 of Hersch Lauterpacht memorial lectures, Cambridge University Press, 2002, ISBN 0521820138, 9780521820134
  30. David A. Lake, Donald S. Rothchild The international spread of ethnic conflict: fear, diffusion, and escalation, Princeton University Press, 1998, ISBN 0691016909, 9780691016900
  31. The full text of the judgement can be found in the case-law database of the European Court of Human Rights at
  32. "The Voice of Blood", book and film by Antonis Angastiniotis
  33. Washington Post, 23 July 1974
  34. See UN Security Council resolutions endorsing General Assembly resolution 3212(XXIX)(1974).

Further reading

Official publications and sources


Other sources

  • ITN documentary, Cyprus, Britain’s Grim Legacy
  • TV documentary, Antonis Angastiniotis, Voice of Blood
  • Channel 4 Television documentary, Secret History – Dead or Alive?
  • CIA World Factbook website (
  • UN Chronicle website />

External links

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