Newsroom / CNA
Forty-nine years ago, on July 20, 1974, the Mediterranean island of Cyprus was forever changed when the Turkish army unleashed a violent invasion, violating international law. The invasion led to the illegal occupation of 37% of Cyprus' territory, an EU member state since 2004.
Today, Cyprus commemorates those who defended their homeland against the Turkish invader. Various events are being held across the government-controlled areas to honor the fallen and pray for the missing.
President of the Republic Nikos Christodoulides is attending memorial services to pay tribute to fallen officers and soldiers. Political parties and citizen organizations are also condemning the invasion and organizing remembrance events, highlighting the need for unity and a just and sustainable solution to the Cyprus problem.
The Turkish soldiers' landing on the northern coast of Cyprus led to absolute havoc, with brutal executions, rapes, arrests, destruction of churches, and displacement of people from their homes. The UN Security Council called for a ceasefire and withdrawal of foreign troops from Cyprus in Resolution 353, but a second phase of the invasion followed, resulting in the occupation of additional areas.
The invasion caused the death of 3,000 people, displaced 162,000 Greek Cypriots as refugees in their own country, and led to the harassment and restriction of movement for those who chose to remain in occupied areas. Turkish Cypriots were also forced to leave their homes and move to the occupied North. The most tragic consequence is the humanitarian issue of missing persons, with thousands still unaccounted for.
Despite repeated UN-led peace talks, Cyprus remains divided, with Nicosia as the last divided capital in Europe. The scars of the Turkish invasion continue to shape the island's history and search for a lasting resolution.