Cyprus wakes up to sirens as new Turkish threat emerges after 46 years

Cypriots woke up to sirens on Monday that marked 46 years since Turkish troops invaded and occupied the north of the island, Greek Reporter said. 

The air-raid sirens sounded at 5:30 a.m. – the time on July 20, 1974 when the invasion was launched. On Monday morning a memorial service for soldiers killed during the invasion took place in Nicosia.

Turkey invaded Cyprus in response to a Greek nationalist military coup in Cyprus aimed at uniting the island with mainland Greece. The island remains divided between a Greek Cypriot south, a European Union member, and the Turkish Cypriot north, only recognised by Ankara.

“Forty-six years after the Turkish invasion, the wound of Cyprus still bleeds,” Greek Reporter cited Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis as saying.

“Unfortunately, the sky of the entire region is being filled by more and more clouds of provocations by the same culprit,” he said.

“The anniversary of shame, instead of provoking a redemptive self-criticism in Turkey, finds it slipping further from legitimacy, Europe and the values of the 21st century,” Mitsotakis added. 

Tensions have been rising between Turkey on the one side, and Greece and Cyprus on the other recently over a range of issues, including competing claims over hydrocarbon exploration rights in the eastern Mediterranean.   

Cyprus says that its drilling for hydrocarbons in the waters around the island is backed by international law, citing its exclusive economic zone, but Ankara claims Cyprus is both impinging on Turkey’s continental shelf and violating the rights of the northern side of the island.  

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias said in a statement that “We will never compromise with the consequences of the Turkish invasion.”

Dendias said that “today, Greece and Cyprus are facing an ever-increasing and expanding Turkish delinquency, which poses a serious threat to security and stability in the wider eastern Mediterranean region.”

Repeated United Nations-led attempts to reunite the country have failed.

On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called for fair and permanent solution to the island’s dispute, said. 

"A fair, permanent solution on Cyprus is only possible with the acceptance of equal status for Turkish Cypriots," state-run Anadolu news agency cited Erdoğan as saying in a statement.

“As always, Turkey will make every effort to protect Turkish Cypriots' rights, and the rule of law,” he added.