NICOSIA — The Turkish invasion of 1974 has undoubtedly been the most violent and life-altering event in the history of Cyprus since the Ottoman conquest of 1570. On 20 July 1974, at 05:30, Turkey launched the first phase of its invasion. By the first cease-fire agreement, on 22 July, an area of about 153 km² had been occupied. While the ink was still wet, the Turks kept advancing: by 30 July, when the Geneva Declaration was signed, they had seized about 337 km². By 8 August, when the second Geneva Conference started, a total area of 364 km² had been taken over. The first round of the invasion resulted in 32.000 refugees, 1.000 enclaved persons, 29 villages, 2 rural Municipalities, Kyrenia, half of Nicosia, numerous dead and injured, captives, rapes, destruction, plunders, loss of work and resources…

After a brief pause, at 04:35 of 14 August 1974, Turkey launched its second invasion, which lasted until the cease-fire agreement of 16 August 1974. By then, an area of about 3.095 km² had been occupied, which – added to what the Turks had seized earlier – included parts of Famagusta and Nicosia, 8 rural Municipalities, as well as 173 villages. On the very next day, the Turks started violating the truce to which they themselves had agreed: by 6 September 1974, a total area of 3.241,68 km² (35,04% of Cyprus) had been taken over, adding more parts of Famagusta and 15 villages. A buffer zone was established between the positions of the occupation forces and the National Guard, with a total length of about 180,5 km, covering an area of about 242,23 km² (amounting to 2,62% of Cyprus), encompassing 10 Municipalities and villages.
The Turkish invasion took a heavy toll on Cyprus: about 210.000 refugees*, 20.000 enclaved (of whom 2.200 Maronite-Cypriots), 2.130 missing persons (of whom 1.543 G/C), about 2.500-3.000 dead, 2.467 G/C POWs, 3.199 T/C captives, 188 villages, 8 Municipalities, 2 towns, hundreds of wounded, injured and disabled, acts of rape, hardship, torture, destruction, pillage and sacrilege, loss of work, home, resources and cultural artefacts…

Immediately after the end of Turkish military operations, an unprecedented systematic Turkification and Islamization process was launched: currently, there are about 35-40.000 Turkish troops; over 160.000 illegal Turkish, Kurdish and Alevi settlers have been brought over from Turkey; the names of 179 settlements, villages and Municipalities, as well as 21.000 toponyms and street names have been changed; at least 77 churches have been converted into mosques and at least 87 new mosques have been built; dozens of Turkish monuments have been erected; the two provocative flags on Pentadhaktylos have been created, and in 1983 the so-called “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC)” was self-proclaimed, a pseudostate only recognized by Turkey.

Nearly half a century later, there are still 975 missing persons since 1974 (775 G/C and 200 T/C), about 300 enclaved Greek-Cypriots in three (3) villages in the Carpass and 50 enclaved Maronite-Cypriots in two (2) villages; finally, since 2019, about 285 Maronite-Cypriots and 60 Greek-Cypriots have been re-settled to four (4) occupied villages.
*. The breakdown of these refugees per ethnic group was as follows: 162.500 Greek-Cypriots, 300-350 Armenian-Cypriots, 2.200 Maronite-Cypriots, 100 Latin-Cypriots and 100-150 British and others, as well as 45.000 Turkish-Cypriots.

Alexander-Michael Hadjilyra – [email protected]

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