Thousands of students protested across the island on Tuesday, condemning 39 years since the north’s unilateral declaration of independence (UDI). At the same time, the north was celebrating the anniversary with a military parade and calls to cement a two-state solution.
President Nicos Anastasiades said “the sad anniversary of the declaration of the pseudo-state is another reminder of Turkey’s illegal actions.
“Today, when Turkey is intensifying its provocative actions at all levels, the dark anniversary of the declaration of the pseudo-state drives the will of all Cypriot citizens for a homeland united and free from dependencies and foreign armies of occupation,” he posted on Twitter.
The UDI took place on November 15, 1983, when the breakaway north declared itself as the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’, nine years after the Turkish invasion. The UDI was condemned by UN Security Council resolutions 541 (1983) and 550 (1984), which called it legally invalid and called for its immediate withdrawal.
The ‘TRNC’ is recognised as a state only by Turkey. Though the Republic marks the UDI with protests, the north traditionally celebrates the day with parades and celebrations.
Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan congratulated the ‘TRNC’ on its 39th anniversary and expressed his dream that it “achieves the place it deserves on the international scene, becoming a state that can stand on its own two feet, on a political, social and economic level.”
The Pancyprian Student Coordination Committee (Psem) and the Pancyprian Federation of Student Unions (Pofen) organised protests across the country marking the anniversary, while the union of Turkish occupied municipalities held an event in Larnaca to condemn the anniversary.
In Nicosia, students marched from Famagusta gate to the buffer zone, delivering a resolution condemning the UDI, to the United Nations. The resolution referred to the status quo as extremely dangerous for the youth and future of Cypriots, while arguing that having a bi-zonal and bicommunal approach to a solution was a “major compromise.”
Students in Paphos said the UDI’s anniversary was a slap in the face, adding salt to the wounds of Greek and Turkish Cypriots, as well as refugees. “We are demonstrating to show our anger, desperation and resentment for the injustice we’re living through.”
Anastasiades reiterated his political will and determination to find a solution, based on UN resolutions and EU values, which should aim for peaceful co-existence between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, enshrining human rights for all Cypriots, and staying away from anachronistic guarantees.
A statement by Greece’s foreign ministry said no state recognises the ‘TRNC’ and Turkey’s insistence on a two-state solution undermines every effort to find a solution.
In the north, a parade began at 10am, with Turkey’s Speaker of the Grand National Assembly Mustafa Sentop attending. He also met with Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar.
In a speech, Tatar said it had long been proven that Greek Cypriots never saw Turkish Cypriots as their equals. “It was always their dream to unify Cyprus with Greece. When we approached them for a solution on the basis of political equality, they left the table.”
As a result, the ‘TRNC’s’ policy for a solution is based on nothing less than sovereign equality, he added.
Sentop said opening Varosha has been a game changer, upsetting the calmness which the Greek Cypriot had that thought the ‘TRNC’ would keep its hands tied.
“However, they failed to consider that this decision would please everyone who owns property in the area, including Greek Cypriot property owners.”
An acrobatics team put up a show at Ataturk square in Kyrenia at 3pm, while Turkish Navy frigates TCG Gediz (F-495), TCG İmbat (P-335) and TCG Çanakalle were also expected dock in the occupied ports. The chief of Turkey’s naval fleet is already in the north.
Speaking at an event in the north on Monday night showcasing a documentary on the journey towards the ‘TRNC’, Sentop said “a solution in Cyprus is possible with two equal sovereign states. We will not stray away from this path.
“We will not accept changing the Turkish Cypriot community to a minority.”
The secretary-general of the Organisation of Turkic States Ambassador Kubanychbek Omuraliev congratulated the ‘TRNC’ on its anniversary. “I convey my heartfelt congratulations to the ‘TRNC’ government and its brotherly people, and wish a prosperous future to the entire Turkic World.”
The organisation last week granted the ‘TRNC’ observer status as an entity, applauded by Turkish and Turkish Cypriot officials, described as regrettable by the EU, and dismissed as ‘meaningless’ by the Cypriot foreign ministry.
Referring to the statement issued by the EU, Tatar said “we are addressing the European Union. The Turkish Cypriot people are independent. The Turkish Cypriot people have paid a price in these territories. The sincerity and goodwill of the Turkish Cypriot people have never been reciprocated.”