Memorials Across Cyprus Denounce 1974 Turkish Invasion
Nicosia, Jul 20 - July 20, 2008, marks 34 years since the Turkish invasion and subsequent occupation of 37% of Cyprus’ territory, the consequences of which are still felt across the island.
Today Cyprus pays tribute to those killed during the invasion and those still missing, with memorials and other events in the government-controlled areas of the Republic.
Air-raid sirens wailed today at 5:30 local time, when the Turkish invasion began 34 years ago with the landing of Turkish troops on the island's northern shores.
At 8:00 local time a memorial service for the army officers and soldiers killed during the invasion took place at Makedonitissa Tomb in Nicosia, in the presence of Cypriot President Demetris Christofias, other officials and representatives of the Greek government and parliament.
Furthermore, at 9:30 local time an official memorial ceremony was held at Faneromeni Church in Nicosia in the presence of President Christofias. Presidential Commissioner George Iacovou gave the eulogy.
President Christofias made the following statement during a Friday evening event marking the Turkish invasion of Cyprus at the Presidential Palace:
“We do not forget. We are being taught by the past. We do not erase homelands. We do not compromise or settle with the idea of permanent division of our land. We look ahead and fight to overturn the faits accomplis of the coup, invasion and occupation. For us, only one road exists. The road which leads, through difficulties and adverse circumstances, to the termination of occupation and to the reunification of our country and people. This will be achieved through a solution of a bizonal, bicommunal federation. Any other options, as good and heroic as they might seem, are objectively leading to permanent division.”
President Christofias also noted that his Government was struggling to reach a settlement the soonest possible since time passing deteriorated the situation, crystallized the faits accomplis of the occupation and rendered the solution more difficult. On the other hand, he added, “we will not sacrifice the content of the settlement to the altar of tight deadlines”.
“We should all realize”, the President further asserted, “that the reunified federal Cyprus will be a renewed partnership of the two communities and it will be based on political equality, as this is defined in UN resolutions”. He added: “The two communities will have effective participation in the exercise of power. The reunified federal Cyprus will be neither a second Greek state in the Mediterranean nor an extension of the Turkish Anatolia. It will be a common state for Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots”.
Making extensive reference to the initiatives his Government has taken since its election to power, vis-a-vis the Cyprus problem, President Christofias chose to focus on his forthcoming meeting with the Turkish Cypriot leader Mr. Talat, on July 25th, to discuss the possibility of resuming direct negotiations. He noted: “If we decide to embark on direct negotiations, we will proceed with confidence and determination. We are defending a totally just cause. We rely on international and European law and we are consolidated by the UN resolutions. We have nothing to fear from a new negotiating procedure. On the contrary, we have a lot to gain if this succeeds. We will continue to be decisive, consistent with the principles of a settlement and flexible in our tactics”.
The President also expressed his concern with the present problematic situation in neighboring Turkey, underlining that the key to a Cyprus settlement remained in Ankara’s hands and that was where serious decisions should be taken.
Lastly, addressing the Turkish Cypriots, Mr. Christofias assured them that his Government would pursue a solution which would fully safeguard their rights, security and participation in the administration of the Federal state that would be created. He also called on them to work together with Greek Cypriots in building a joyful future in a reunified, free, democratic and prosperous Cyprus.