Cypriots mark their division

Today’s 30th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus finds the island still bitterly divided, with Greek Cypriots lamenting the day while Turkish Cypriots prepared parades to celebrate. At 5.30 a.m. sirens will wail and flags will be flown at half-staff as Greek Cypriots mark the moment that the Turkish invasion began. A prayer service will be held in Nicosia for the island’s liberation, the return of refugees to their homes and the discovery of what happened to soldiers and citizens who went missing after the invasion. A memorial service for the fallen will follow, as will services across the island. On the other hand, Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul arrived on the Turkish-occupied part of the island to attend today’s celebrations and declared, «The peace operation of 1974 brought protection to the Turkish Cypriots and stability to the region.» Turkish naval ships docked in the occupied harbor of Keryneia yesterday. The invasion followed a Greek-Cypriot coup aimed at uniting the island with Greece. The island remains divided after Greek Cypriots rejected a UN plan for its reunification whereas the Turkish Cypriots accepted it in a referendum on April 24. On Friday, the Greek Cypriots proposed a number of confidence-building measures aimed at retaking the initiative in the efforts to find a solution. These include a mutual pullback of forces from the ceasefire line, the de-mining of the buffer zone and opening of new transit points and joint administration over the port of Famagusta (which would allow Turkish-Cypriot goods to be exported from there without the risk of the de facto recognition of their breakaway state). Yesterday, Cypriot officials expressed disappointment that Mehmet Ali Talat, who leads the Turkish-Cypriot administration, rejected these proposals.