ATHENS --- The Cyprus problem constitutes the highest priority of the Greek government, Greek Foreign Minister Evaggelos Venizelos says in a message on the occasion of the completion of 39 years when Turkish troops invaded against Cyprus and since then occupy 37% of its territory.
In his message, the Greek FM notes that 39 years after the illegal Turkish invasion against Cyprus on July 20, 1974, which plunged into mourning the relatives of those killed and turned into refugees thousands of families, the international legitimacy continues to be violated despite the repeated decisions of the UN Security Council.
“Cyprus suffers under the consequences of the Turkish occupation, the violations of the human rights of the Cypriot people, the illegal settlement of Turkish settlers and the continuous destruction of the Greek Orthodox and cultural heritage, while the fate of the missing persons is still unknown and their relatives still wait for answers to their questions”, he stresses.
Venizelos reassures of Greece’s firm support to Cyprus noting that the current economic difficulties faced by the two countries will not change this stance.
“The termination of the occupation and its consequences, the reunification of Cyprus through a just and viable solution, based on the UN decisions and Cyprus’ participation in the EU, remains the goal of Greece, of which the Cyprus problem constitutes the highest priority of its foreign policy”, he concludes.
Turkish troops invaded Cyprus on 20 July 1974, following a military coup that toppled the legal government of the Republic which was engineered with the Greek military junta.
In a two-phase invasion and despite repeated calls by the UN Security Council, Turkey occupied 37% of the sovereign territory of the Republic. Ankara continues to maintain some 40,000 troops in the northern areas of Cyprus it occupies, in complete disregard to appeals for their withdrawal and calls to contribute to a political settlement through peace talks.
The consequences of Turkey’s illegal aggression were devastating and are still felt today by the Cypriot people: gross violation of human rights, with hundreds of people still listed as missing, Greek Cypriot refugees in anticipation of a solution that would allow them to return home, enclaved Greek Cypriots being deprived of fundamental rights and the island’s 9,000 year old cultural heritage being pillaged.
UN backed talks were halted in July 2012 by the Turkish side when Cyprus assumed the EU Council Presidency. It is expected that talks will resume in the autumn.