Busloads of Turkish Cypriots crossed into Cyprus’ “other ghost town” on Saturday to commemorate Turkish bombing in Tylliria during intercommunal clashes on the island in 1964, but the gathering was not without political controversy.
According to the Cyprus News Agency, 26 mini buses carrying some 300 Turkish Cypriots on Saturday morning went through Limnitis checkpoint and into the Kokkina enclave, in northwestern Cyprus, where events were scheduled for commemorating the Turkish bombing in August 1964.
Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci was expected to arrive by helicopter in the area, also known in Turkish as Erenkoy, where he would take part in the commemorating events.
But the events were not without controversy after Turkish Cypriots accused the Republic of Cyprus of taking “provocative actions” by organizing a military drill in the area on the following day.
Ozersay informed the United Nations and called on Greek Cypriots to remove 187 portable machine guns recently installed in the area
According to CNA, Kudret Ozersay, who is in charge of foreign affairs in the north, accused the Greek Cypriot leadership of “violating Turkish Cypriot territorial waters” by scheduling a naval exercise on Sunday.
“We and our military authorities have been monitoring the developments over these provocative actions that violate our territorial waters,” Ozersay was quoted as saying.
The Turkish Cypriot official, who said they were informed that Greek Cypriots were planning drills with live ammunition off the Tylliria coast, called on the south to halt its activities otherwise the north would take counter measures.
CNA also reported that Ozersay informed the United Nations over the issue, while in a written statement the Turkish Cypriot official called on Greek Cypriots to remove 187 portable machine guns recently installed in the area, according to his statement.
Ozersay said Turkish Cypriots did not favour tensions rising in the area. He called the firearm installations a “hostile act” and called for their removal before end of August.
Turkish planes bomb Tylliria
In early August 1964, Turkey had threatened to invade Cyprus in response to a Greek Cypriot military operation in a cluster of villages in the Tylliria region, where the government suspected Turkish Cypriots were gunrunning. A UN report later pointed to “some justification” over the suspicions of weapons smuggling from Turkey.
The National Guard had moved in troops and artillery pieces, surrounding Turkish Cypriots from land and sea as patrol boats also shelled Kokkina and Mansoura villages.
After repeated UN calls for a ceasefire, Turkish planes flew over the area on August 7 and fired warning rounds out to sea. Fighting ensued between Greek Cypriots soldiers and the outnumbered Turkish Cypriot locals, with the planes returning and bombing government positions in a follow up mission the next day, according to records.
Kokkina village is off limits to the public after its last residents moved out in 1976, two years after the Turkish military invaded the island in response to a short-lived, Greek-inspired coup. Cyprus remains split along ethnic lines while Nicosia is currently the only divided capital in the world.