LARNACA - Swedish veterans of the United Nations peacekeeping forces in Cyprus who served on the island from 1964 and during the Turkish invasion of 1974 will reunite in Larnaca this week to celebrate 50 years from the beginning of their service.
Approximately 125 veterans will participate in the largest reunion of veterans outside Sweden, with celebrations which started yesterday and will end on Friday, including three dinners in Larnaca hotels and restaurants, as well as visits to army camps, offices and UN guardhouses in Famagusta, Kyrenia, Nicosia and other parts of the island.
The historic meeting will also be celebrated by the Tourist Development and Promotion Company which will award veterans who have visited the island more than 10 times after their service in Cyprus had ended.
Swedish organiser of the event and permanent Larnaca resident veteran Par Hedlund said that the town was chosen as the focal point of the celebrations as it is a favourite among some of the veterans who are frequent visitors, while others have been permanent Larnaca residents for years.
“This will be a wonderful opportunity to reminisce, bring to our memories those tragic days for Cyprus but also the huge efforts made at the time by UNFICYP to prevent any more bloodshed and bring peace to the island,” Hedlund said.
“After all these years, we will visit Famagusta, Kyrenia and old facilities of the United Nations which were used as offices or guardhouses. It will definitely be a special experience,” he added.
Sweden was one of the first troop-contributing countries to the United Nations Peacekeeping forces, which recently celebrated 50 years presence on the island. Between 1964 and 1993, a total of 27,981 Swedish military and police officers served in Cyprus.
The Swedish Contingent that took over responsibility for the Famagusta district in April 1974 consisted of 240 military personnel and police officers.
One of the many duties taken on by Swedish peacekeepers in the aftermath of the invasion was to feed and take care of farm animals which were left behind by their fleeing Greek Cypriot owners.
They also set up and manned new observation posts in the Famagusta district and acted as mediators between the opposing forces, while taking on the task of evacuating approximately 800 Scandinavian tourists who were visiting the island at the time.