Turkish Invasion (1974)

By 1974, dissatisfaction among Greek nationalist right-wing elements in favour of the long-term goal of unification with Greece precipitated a coup d'etat against President Makarios which was sponsored by the military government of Greece and led by Greek officers in the Cypriot National Guard. The Greek military junta and their supporters attempted to assassinate President Makarios. The new regime replaced Makarios with Nikos Giorgiades Sampson as president, and Bishop Gennadios as head of the Cypriot Orthodox Church. Seven days after these events Turkey invaded Cyprus by sea and air on 20 July 1974. At the time Turkey claimed it was invading to uphold its obligation under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee "to re-instate the constitution of the Republic of Cyprus". The coup was dissolved after strong resistance by the Greek Cypriot people, however the constitution was replaced only in the free areas of Cyprus, which were not under the Turkish occupation army. Talks in Geneva involving Greece, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the two Cypriot factions stalled and on August 12 Turkey offered a proposal for a communal system, with confederate cantons, and gave Greece 24 hours to accept.

The talks soon collapsed after Turkish planes attacked Nicosia, and Turkish forces subsequently moved from the previous cease-fire lines to gain control of 37% of the island's territory. In the proces over 160,000 Greek Cypriots who made up the overwhelming majority of the population of these areas were ethnically cleansed.

The invasion also led to the displacement of about 50,000 Turkish Cypriots who left the areas under the control of the Republic of Cyprus moved to the areas under Turkish military control and settled in the homes and properties left behind by the Greek Cypriots. Many of them did so clandestinely, defying a Cyprus Government imposed ban which aimed at preventing the separation of the Cypriot population along ethnic lines. As of today, there are still 1,468 Greek Cypriots and 502 Turkish Cypriots unaccounted for as well as over 150,000 Greek Cypriot refugees and over 60,000 Turkish Cypriot displaced persons.

The events of the summer of 1974 have dominated Cypriot politics ever since and have been a major point of contention between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, as well as Greece and Turkey.

Since 1974, there have been continual efforts to negotiate a settlement, which met with varying levels of disagreement from either side. The Turkish government arranged an influx of settlers from Turkey whose exact numbers are disputed, but believed to be in the range of over 100,000, thus altering the demographics of the island against the rules of the Geneva Convention.

Turkish Cypriots proclaimed a separate state, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), under Rauf Denktaş on November 15, 1983. The UN Security Council, in its Resolution 541 of November 18, 1983, declared the action legally invalid and called for a withdrawal of Turkish troops. The above-mentioned Resolutions also asked all states to refrain from recognizing the declaration, which was created through secessionist actions, and not to facilitate or in any other way aid the secessionist entity. Turkey is the only country to date that recognizes the administration on the northern third of Cyprus in violation of the resolution. Turkey does not recognize the Republic of Cyprus's authority over the whole island, and refers to it as the Greek Cypriot administration.


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