Today, Cyprus marks the 44th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of 1974, which resulted in the occupation of the island’s northern third. Air-raid sirens sounded at 05:30, as the Turkish armada of 33 ships, including troop transporters and at least 30 tanks and small landing craft landed on the northern coast of the island.
Approximately 40,000 Turkish troops, under the command of Lieutenant Nurettin Ersin, illegally invaded the island in violation of the UN Security Council Charter, murdering 4000 men, women and children from Kyrenia and the villages surrounding Nicosia. Chaos and panic ensued as people fled for their lives and around 200,000 Greek Cypriots became refugees in their own country. To this date, over 1000 people are still amongst the missing.
Shortly after the occupation of the island, a diplomatic solution was sought by British diplomats. However, it became evident quickly that diplomacy would not put an end to the military occupation of the northern third of the island by the Turkish military. The division of the island extends from Morphou in the west, through Nicosia to Famagusta and has a buffer zone that UN peacekeepers have been looking after ever since the invasion, 43 years ago.
To this day, Turkey continues to occupy 37% of the island and maintains 40,000 troops here, while UN-led talks aiming to resolve the conflict of the island and to dissolve tension between Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots have been ongoing since 1980 in what is now referred to as the Cyprus Talks.