By George Psyllides
Returning the fenced-off city of Varoshia to its legitimate inhabitants is a first class chance for Turkey to prove that it really desires a solution of the Cyprus problem.
In a statement marking the 40th anniversary of the second phase of the 1974 Turkish invasion, government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said “such an action would send the message to Greek Cypriots that they can trust Turkey, and that it can benefit Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.”
The second phase of the invasion was condemned by President Nicos Anastasiades and the government.
On August 14, 1974, Turkish troops expanded their occupation to include the tourist resort of Varoshia in the east and the rich citrus-growing area of Morphou in the west.
Varoshia still stands uninhabited 40 years on.
In total, almost 37 per cent of the island ended up under Turkish occupation.
Turkish troops invaded Cyprus on July 20, 1974, five days after the legal government of the late Archbishop Makarios was toppled by a military coup engineered by the military junta then ruling Greece.
Two unproductive conferences in Geneva followed; the first between Britain, Greece and Turkey and the second with the additional attendance of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot representatives.
The second round of talks broke down when Clerides asked for 36 hours to consider Turkey’s proposal for a federation to give Turkish Cypriots autonomy. Turkey refused and a couple of hours later it launched its second offensive.
In the weeks and months that followed virtually all Greek Cypriots living in the north were forced south, while the Turkish Cypriots in the south moved north.
On February 13, 1975, Turkey declared the occupied northern part as Turkish federated state of Cyprus.
Eight years later, on November 15, 1983, the Turkish Cypriots unilaterally declared independence. Their breakaway state is only recognised by Turkey.