Turkish vice president on Friday marked the 44th anniversary of Turkey’s military operation launched to protect Turkish population in northern Cyprus.
Known as "Cyprus Peace Operation", the massive military operation was launched with the aim of protecting Turkish Cypriots from inter-communal violence that had broken out on the island.
“[It is] the most honorable day of the struggle for a right to Turkish Cypriots’ freedom and to continue their existence as the equal owner of the island,” Vice President Fuat Oktay said at an event marking the 44th anniversary of the operation in Lefkosa.
Oktay said the Turkish army used its rights under international agreements to protect Turks in Cyprus. “[Turkey] failed their attempts to eradicate the Turkish Cypriots and to remove them from the history scene.
“That day, Turkey, as a guarantor, showed to the whole world that it will continue to stand by Turkish Cypriots no matter what.”
He said the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) is now in a position to contribute to peace and stability in the region as a modern state.
Oktay said Greek Cypriots continued to see themselves as the only owner of the island and did not want to share the political power with Turkish Cypriots.
“This, in spite of all our efforts, has led to the failure of the process targeting the establishment of a new federal partnership on the island, just like the previous ones.”
He said Greek Cypriots were far from to change their attitude towards the issue.
“Greek Cypriots won’t be allowed to make the Turkish Cypriots a minority community,” Oktay said.
Every July 20 Peace and Freedom Day in the TRNC commemorates Turkey’s “Cyprus Peace Operation.”
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when a Greek Cypriot coup was followed by violence against the island's Turks and Ankara's intervention as a guarantor power.
The latest attempt to reunify the long-divided Mediterranean island ended in failure in 2017 after two years of negotiations.