Last Sunday, 20 July 2014, marked the 40th anniversary of Turkey's direct involvement on the island of Cyprus.
The so-called Attila-1 offensive was a military intervention aimed at bringing a halt to a bloody operation of "ethnic cleansing" (though the term still had to be invented at the time) which was targeting the Turkish population of the island. The Turkish Armed Forces subsequently occupied a fair share of the island's territory (37 percent), an area that was turned into the so-called Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) in 1983 – a mini-state that has only been recognized by the Republic of Turkey.
Even now that the southern or Greek-populated part of the island (the so-called Republic of Cyprus) has joined the EU (on 1 May 2004) and even become part of the eurozone (on 1 January 2008), a solution for the problems of partition and inter-communal distrust has remained elusive and apparently much-sought after.
Still, on the occasion of this year's anniversary, the soon-to-be-replaced President of Turkey Abdullah Gul publicly said the following: "We hope that there will be another opportunity for talks and we will reach an affirmative point as a result of negotiations so it won’t be open ended talks. We hope that the two sides would reach an agreement within the parameters of the United Nations". Sooner rather than later, he even seemed to be thinking.
The beginning of the conflict
To this day worldwide public opinion persists in viewing the Turkish actions of 1974 as unwarranted acts of aggression tantamount to a war crime – for instance the pan-European news organization Euronews states that "Turkey claimed [that the Attila-1 offensive's aim] was to protect Turkish Cypriots", whereas "Greek Cypriots called it an occupation", or nothing but a violent land grab, in other words.
The seeds of the still ongoing conflict were apparently sown when "Britain occupied Cyprus by virtue of the Anglo–Turkish Convention signed on 4 June1878", formally annexing the island in 1914. Britain used both communities as ploys to "divide & rule" the island. The Al Jazeera correspondent and New Athenian, John Psaropoulos relates that after "the Second World War, Greek-Cypriot Lieutenant Colonel Yiorgos Grivas set up EOKA, a guerrilla organization, which attacked British troops and installations as part of its goal to merge Cyprus with Greece. Its battle cry was “Enosis”, or “Union”.”
Subsequently, inter-communal violence became the norm on the island, a fact which did not change after the island gained its independence in 1960, "on the basis of a power-sharing agreement negotiated by Greece and Turkey, [but] not by the Cypriots themselves".