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Greek coup and invasion archives delivered

The presidential palace was attacked by the coupists in an effort to capture Makarios (EPA)

The delivery of the findings of an inquiry into the 1974 coup to overthrow president Makarios and the ensuing Turkish invasion is not just boxes with testimonies but memories, tears, pain and unvindicated sacrifice, the head of Greek Parliament, Nikos Voutsis said on Friday.

In a special ceremony held in the Cypriot parliament, Voutsis officially handed over the archives of an inquiry conducted by the Greek parliament to House President Demetris Syllouris.

The archives, 134 files known as the Cyprus file, were delivered to the Cypriot parliament on Thursday afternoon following an agreement signed last year between the two legislatures.

The material was collected during an investigation into the events, carried out between 1986 and 1988. The inquiry heard testimony from 86 witnesses and the minutes of its sessions span close to 21,000 pages. Attached to the minutes are documents from various departments. The Greek parliament unanimously approved the handover on Tuesday afternoon, following repeated requests over the years that were rejected.

“We did not only bring carton boxes with testimonies and descriptions, we brought memories, passions, tears, pain, and unvindicated sacrifices,” Voutsis said. He added that this archive could be the beginning for the collection of even more material.

“We must not forget the huge responsibility we bear as a country, as Greece,” he said. Voutsis said it was due to the Cypriot tragedy in 1974, that the Greek junta fell and democracy was restored.

From 1967 to 1974 Greece was ruled by a military junta which played a pivotal role in developments in Cyprus, especially during the July 15 coup that triggered the Turkish invasion five days later.

“This is also an event that as such cannot be described as a trauma or as treatment of trauma; it is a historical fact of major importance that presents a huge responsibility for jointly preventing further adventures,” he said.

The handover of the Cyprus File to the Cypriot parliament marks the settlement of a “great outstanding historic matter,” Voutsis said, and the beginning of procedures that would allow the disclosure of this information and access to members of the public.

Voutsis also stressed the need for a just settlement to the Cyprus problem.

His Cypriot counterpart said the delivery of the file was “a historic event of the upmost symbolic and national importance.”

The archival material, he said, “will not heal the consequences of the tribulations that brought the coup and the Turkish invasion to our country,” but it will “shed light and reveal dark or poorly illuminated aspect, in the foreground and background of the Cyprus tragedy”.

Syllouris said the request of the country’s political leadership and of Cypriots as a whole to have access to the material, was finally satisfied.

“I am confident that more information will not only hurt, but rather unite us even more, both on what we need to avoid and on what we need to do. Truth, information, knowledge, and transparency have never caused any harm. It’s the dark back stages that do the harm and it is on those we want to shed light,” Syllouris said.

The material will be used exclusively for parliamentary or scientific/historical purposes following the approval of the respective presidents of the two parliaments.

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