President Nicos Anastasiades on Monday welcomed statements by Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci on Sunday that what happened in 1974 was a war and not just a ‘peace operation’.
It was the first time any Turkish Cypriot leader had used the word ‘war’ in referring to the Turkish invasion or acknowledged the effects it had on the Greek Cypriot population.
According to Turkish Cypriot media, in his statement, Akinci said: “There is no doubt what we called ‘peace operation’ can also say it was a war. And the war’s conditions were undoubtedly difficult and challenging. After the great suffering the Turkish Cypriot people experienced in the 1950s and 1960s, the Greek Cypriot community too was one of the biggest victims of the 1974 tragedy caused by the Greek junta”.
In earlier statements on Monday, Anastasiades said he was particularly pleased with the remarks, adding that Akinci`s statement showed “gallantry”.
On Monday in a written statement to mark 41 years since the invasion, Anastasiades said he was “comforted” by the reference and acknowledgement by Akinci.
“Let us hope that Mr Erdogan will at least indicate the country’s determination to end this unacceptable situation,” he added, referring to a visit later in the day to the north by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to attend Turkish Cypriot celebrations.
Speaking to reporters after the morning event at the Makedonitissa Tomb, Anastasiades said it was sad day.
He said it was regrettable that while some mourned, others were celebrating.
“We must work to heal the wounds and fade the scars,” he said.
“This is a day of sorrow and of sad memories, forty one years on memories are still fresh. At the same time our obligation and our duty to the country and to those who have lost their lives become more pressing,” the President said.
He said that as “this unacceptable state of affairs and the occupation continue, we must work to heal the wounds and fade the scars.”
“I would like to hope that the present phase of the UN-led peace talks, which has the prospect of creating a modern country that protects fully everybody’s human rights, a country on an equal footing with the rest of the EU member-states, will secure the prospect for the future of our island,”
Events were taking place in all areas to mark the invasion anniversary.
The political and religious leadership condemned the continuing occupation and were holding memorials and other commemorative events.
Air-raid sirens sounded at 5.30am local time when the Turkish invasion began on the northern coast.
A formal church memorial service was held at Faneromeni Church in Nicosia, attended by the President and the political leadership. A series of other anti-occupation events will also take place during the day.