Cyprus Issue

Turkish Invasion

The Turkish army invaded Cyprus on 20 July 1974.

Turkey announced that the invasion was a "peace-keeping operation" to restore the constitutional order disrupted when a Greek military coup overthrew the Cyprus government. Turkey claimed she was acting in compliance with the terms of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee.

The invading forces landed off the northern coast of the island around Kyrenia. By the time a cease fire was agreed three days later, Turkish troops held 3% of the territory of Cyprus. Five thousand Greek Cypriots had fled their homes.

Following the invasion, the junta which was in power in Greece at the time, collapsed and Mr Constantine Karamanlis was recalled from self-imposed exile in Paris to form a new government. In Cyprus, Nicos Samson, the man whom the junta had set up as President, surrendered power to the President of the House of Representatives, Mr Glafcos Clerides, pending the return of the island's constitutionally elected President, Archbishop Makarios, who had fled abroad to save his life during the coup.

Two unproductive conferences in Geneva followed, the first between Britain, Greece and Turkey and the second with the additional attendance of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot representatives. Throughout this time Turkish troops steadily expanded their occupation.

On 14 August and despite the fact that talks were still being held in Geneva and just as agreement seemed about to be reached, the Turkish army mounted a second full-scale offensive, thereby belying Turkey's original pretext that it was invading in order to restore constitutional order, in view of the fact that constitutional order had already been restored.

By the end of the offensive, Turkey increased its hold to include the booming tourist resort of Famagusta and the rich citrus-growing area of Morphou. All in all almost 36% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus came under Turkish military occupation, an area Turkey still holds today, despite international condemnation.

The advance halted on a line which was almost precisely the one proposed by Turkey as the demarcation of partition in 1965. This line has come to be known as the Attila line, named after the military codename "Attila" which Turkey gave to the invasion operation, thereby identifying it with the chieftain of the Huns known as "the scourge of God".

As a result, 28% of the Greek Cypriots were turned into refugees in their own country and 70% of the economic potential of Cyprus came under military occupation. Moreover, thousands of people, including civilians, were killed or ill-treated by the Turkish invaders.

There are still more than 1,500 Greek Cypriots missing as a result of the Turkish invasion, many of whom were held in Turkish custody. Following the invasion the Turkish government embarked on a policy of bringing in large numbers of Anatolian settlers into the occupied area, while at the same time systematically expelling the lawful Greek Cypriot inhabitants from their homes. Currently about 500 mostly elderly people remain enclaved in the occupied area.

On 1 November 1974, the UN General Assembly unanimously passed the first of many resolutions calling all states to respect the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and non-alignment of the Republic of Cyprus. It urged the speedy withdrawal of all foreign troops, the continuation of intercommunal talks and that urgent efforts be taken to ensure the safe return of refugees to their homes.

Intercommunal talks resumed in 1975. In December, of the same year, the UN Security Council adopted a new resolution on Cyprus extending, once more, its peace-keeping force's (UNFICYP) mandate. At the fifth round of talks, held in Vienna in February 1976, it was agreed that an exchange of written proposals on the territorial and constitutional aspects of the problem should be presented to the then UN Special Representative in Cyprus, Mr Javier Perez de Cuellar. The Greek Cypriot side submitted detailed proposals, demanding the return of the Turkish occupied area to its lawful inhabitants.

The Turkish Cypriot proposals, however, envisaged the continued division of Cyprus. A new recourse to the United Nations General Assembly was made by the Cyprus Government in November 1976. This resulted in the General Assembly calling on the Security Council to initiate steps for the implementations of previous UN resolutions on Cyprus.

Entry Date 10/8/2001