Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on July 20 marked the 46th anniversary of the Cyprus Peace Operation.
“The peace operation demonstrates the resurgence of a public, which was wanted to be erased from history. This operation showed the whole world what can be done when Turkish Cypriots’ basic rights were violated [and] when their freedom was being threatened,” President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in a written statement.
Erdoğan also added that a fair and permanent solution on Cyprus only possible with acceptance of equal status for Turkish Cypriots.
Greek Cypriots must acknowledge the political equality of Turkish Cypriots, and their equal rights over the island’s natural resources without any delay, he said.
A ceremony was held in northern Lefkoşa where top Turkish and Turkish Cypriot officials placed a wreath on modern Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s monument.
Among the participants were TRNC’s President Mustafa Akıncı, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay, ministers, lawmakers, and military and diplomatic representatives.
Akıncı, writing in the memory book at the event, hailed Atatürk, the founder of Turkey, and said Turkish Cypriots sought a permanent solution to the Cyprus issue with a peace-based approach.
Oktay wrote that Turkey is the guarantor of peace and stability in the region, and both Turks and Turkish Cypriots are deeply connected.
Turkey, he added, is determined to stand behind Turkish Cypriots whenever the need be. The participants strictly followed health guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus — maintained social distancing and wore face masks.
Every year the TRNC celebrates July 20 as its Peace and Freedom Day to mark the operation — a large-scale military intervention to protect Turkish Cypriots from violence that struck the island in 1974.
The island has been divided into a Turkish Cypriot government in the north, and Greek Cypriot administration in the south since a 1974 military coup aimed at its annexation by Greece.
Turkey’s military intervention stopped years-long persecution and violence against Turkish Cypriots by ultra-nationalist Greek Cypriots.