This year’s 20 July Peace and Freedom Day was marked in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) with ceremonies to remember the victims and the fallen soldiers.
Events commemorating the 45th anniversary of Turkey’s military intervention in Cyprus kicked off on Friday, 19 July, with a 21-gun salute followed by a televised address to the nation by President Mustafa Akıncı.
Wreath-laying ceremonies were held on the afternoon of 19 July and the morning of 20 July.
Writing in a memorial book for Atatürk, Mr Akıncısaid: “[The TRNC] continues both its development efforts and also its efforts to maintain permanent peace on the island in line with your [Atatürk’s] principle of ‘Peace at home, peace in the world’.”
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay, who was in North Cyprus to take part in the commemorations, wrote in the book: “The Turkish people and the Turkish Republic will always support, as they have been until today, Turkish Cypriots, as the equal owner of the island, who deserve to freely maintain their existence on the island and who are an integral part of our people.”
There were also speeches, a military parade in the capital Lefkoşa, a spectacular display by the Turkish Air Force Turkish Jets aerobatics team above Girne, and a “Dawn Vigil” where thousands gathered on the beach where the first Turkish troops came ashore.
“We have gathered here to celebrate the freedom and peace that came at the dawn of July 20, and to commemorate those who died and suffered for this cause,” Fevzi Tanpınar, the head of Dawn Vigil Organisation Committee, said at the event.
Addressing the Greek Cypriot side, he added: “Never forget that your fate will always depend on our fate on this island. Notice that our freedoms are inextricably tied to your freedom.
“Never forget that peace is the only way to live as good neighbours on this island.”
Some daring manoeuvres by Major Esra Özatay and her @TurkYildizlari1 team today in the skies above Girne/Kyrenia Harbour in North #Cyprus to mark 45 years of peace and freedom for Turkish Cypriots. #20Temmuz pic.twitter.com/ti4wtVPUIz
— Eltan Halil (@eltanh) July 20, 2019
A message sent by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to Mr Akıncı, said:
“Turkey conducted the Peace Operation in order to protect the rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriot people, one of the equal and joint owners of the island of Cyprus.
“Today, the entire world continues to see our determination in this regard.
“No one should doubt that the glorious Turkish military, which does not consider Cyprus any different from its own homeland, will not hesitate, if needed, to once again take the step it took 45 years ago when it comes to the Turkish Cypriots’ lives and safety.
“The Peace Operation was conducted on July 20, 1974 in line with international law after having exhausted all diplomatic avenues.
“International legitimacy will continue to be, as it has been so far, our most fundamental principle concerning the Cyprus issue.”
Mr Erdoğan said that “those who question” the “strength of the solidarity between Turkey and the TRNC and the mutual bond between the Turkish people and the Turkish Cypriot people, have understood how wrong they were as a result of bitter experiences”.
“Turkish Cypriots are an integral part of the Great Turkish Nation. Those who dream of changing that fact will, sooner or later, realise that their efforts are in vain,” he added.