NEWS

Cypriots remember ’74 invasion

On the 29th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Turkish-Cypriot authorities staged a military parade in the northern part of the island yesterday while Greek Cypriots held memorial services for their fallen and their missing and mourned the island’s division. Sirens wailed across the south. In this highly charged atmosphere, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had been seen by Athens and Nicosia as offering a glimmer of hope for a solution to the Cyprus problem, raised an angry reaction in Nicosia and Athens when he referred to the invasion as a «peace operation,» something the Turks have been saying since 1974. He also spoke of the existence of two «states» and two «nations» on the island. Over the weekend, Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash reacted angrily to what he termed Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos’s rejection of his proposal for Nicosia’s airport and the Greek-Cypriot town of Varosha – both closed since 1974 – to reopen. «Papadopoulos today formally rejected our proposals. He says that they are complicated and untimely and cites many other pretexts,» Denktash said on Saturday. The president had sent his reply to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Friday and its contents were not made public. In a speech at a wreath-laying ceremony yesterday, Papadopoulos reiterated his side’s readiness to resume talks aimed at a comprehensive solution. «We are determined to the last to work for a peaceful solution and (UN) talks to end the invasion and occupation,» he said. Denktash, speaking at the parade in the Turkish-occupied part of Nicosia, kept up his opposition to the plan, saying, «If I had signed the Annan plan, one of every two people here would have become emigrants.» Responding to Erdogan, Greek government spokesman Christos Protopappas said, «When Mr Erdogan calls the bloody invasion (codenamed) Attila a ‘peace operation,’ he is being provocative. He provokes all humanity. He provokes the international community, he provokes the United Nations which have described the Turkish operation as an invasion and occupation of Cyprus.»