Time to resolve Cyprus issue, says Turkish president

In his final official visit to Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, President Abdullah Gul called for a resolution to the Cyprus situation

LEFKOSA, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (AA) – Turkish President Abdullah Gul has called for a resolution to the conflict over Cyprus, as the divided island marks the 40th anniversary of Turkish peace operation.

Speaking at an anniversary ceremony in Lefkosa, he said: “There are very few conflicts lasting for 50 years in the world. Therefore it is time to resolve this conflict.”

Turkish troops arrived in northern Cyprus on July 20, 1974 to protect Turkish Cypriots threatened by a right-wing Greek Cypriot coup. Operation Atilla safeguarded the Turkish population and the junta collapsed.

Gul said: “Operation Atilla provided freedom to Turkish Cypriots excluded from the country they established and shared with Greeks and let them look to the future with confidence.

“The date July 20 is a way to remember the strong will [that existed] to protect Turkish Cypriots’ ideal of equality, rights, and laws for peace and security.”

The president hoped current UN-sponsored talks, as well as practical developments such as a water supply project between Turkey and Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, would bring about a permanent and fair resolution to the island.

Gul also highlighted the 2004 vote on reunification that was supported by Turkish Cypriots but voted down by the Greek Cypriot electorate. “We should always remember this incident,” he said. “There may be some people who wish to see it disappear from our memories. We should keep our sincerity alive as we wanted to show it at the ballot box.”

Turkish Cypriot President Dervis Eroglu recalled the 1974 peace mission as saving Turkish Cypriots from “mass graves and captivity.”

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is running for president next month, sent a letter to Eroglu promising support and praising TRNC’s dedication to democracy and the rule of law.


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