Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades is attending on Friday the unveiling ceremony of a Greek Noratlas aircraft replica, which has been assembled at the Tymvos Makedonitissas military cemetery in Nicosia to honor the fallen.
The ceremony is part of a series of events and gatherings by which Greek Cypriots mark July 20 as the day of Turkish invasion.
The original Noratlas “Niki-4” was taking part in a secret mission on 22 July 1974, in order to assist Greek Cypriot forces as they put up a resistance to the advancing Turkish army, which invaded in response to a short-lived coup on July 15 engineered by Athens and local supporters of union with Greece.
Niki-4 with 33 souls on board was shot down by friendly fire during landing, when Greek Cypriot forces manning the Nicosia airport mistook the plane for the enemy.
The plane crashed seconds later with only one commando surviving after managing to jump out. A fire that started inside the aircraft is believed to have killed everyone else who did not die on impact.
The plane was buried with the remains of the commandos still inside, with the aircraft lying exactly under a mound on which a monument to the fallen of 1974 was later erected.
The government was criticized for not being forthcoming about the exact fate of the aircraft and the remains of Greek fallen commandos, with some of their families later being given misidentified remains.
Athens did not officially recognise the Noratlas operation, as Greece was a NATO ally and not at war with Turkey. But in recent years, more publicity has been given to the incident primarily for historical and humanitarian reasons.
In the last two years, the plane was exhumed and remains of over a dozen commandos were returned to their families, in an effort by the government to make things right. [Kathimerini Cyprus]