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Sunday, July 19, 1998 Published at 21:40 GMT 22:40 UK

World: Europe

Turkish Cypriots celebrate anniversary

Mesut Yilmaz: guest of honour for Turkish Cypriots

By BBC correspondent Chris Morris.

The Turkish Prime Minister, Mesut Yilmaz, is visiting northern Cyprus for celebrations on Monday to mark the 24th anniversary of the Turkish military intervention which divided the island.

The Greek Cypriots describe it as a brutal invasion that split their island in two. But Turkish Cypriots commemorate the events of 1974 with great pride.

The BBC's Chris Morris: 'The younger generation is restless'
They regard July 20 as the day they won their peace and freedom, a slogan emphasised by banners hanging in prominent positions throughout the North. This year's anniversary comes at a time when relations between Greek and Turkish Cypriots have frozen.

The Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, made it clear on Sunday that this is not a time for healing. Bad memories, he said, will not be forgotten.

The Turkish Cypriots claimed that they faced comprehensive discrimination after Cyprus gained its independence in 1960, and that Greek Cypriot extremists seeking a union with Greece carried out a series of massacres.

[ image: Greek Cypriots' purchase of Russian missiles has raised tensions]
Greek Cypriots' purchase of Russian missiles has raised tensions
The Greek Cypriots make similar claims about the Turkish military intervention in 1974, and the legacy of bitterness on both sides is strong.

The Turkish Cypriots now say they will not resume talks with the Greek Cypriots until there is an acknowledgement that two separate states exist on the island.

International attention has been focused on Cyprus again recently, because the Greek Cypriot Government is taking delivery of anti-aircraft missiles from Russia later this year. Turkey says the missiles pose an unacceptable threat to its security and has threatened retaliation.

The dispute has fueled tensions on the island and international mediators have made little headway in forging a compromise between the two sides.

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