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Monday, July 20, 1998 Published at 20:15 GMT 21:15 UK


World: Europe

Cyprus divided over invasion anniversary

Tension has risen in Cyprus 24 years after the inter-communal split

The two communities in Cyprus are marking the 24th anniversary of the Turkish invasion of the North in ways which ilustrate the island's continuing divisions.


BBC's Chris Morris reports on the changing demographics of Northern Cyprus
Greek Cypriots were woken at dawn by wailing sirens and church bells ringing in mourning for the more than 5,000 people killed in the fighting that followed the invasion.

But in the North, Turkish Cypriots have been celebrating the event.

Tension has grown in recent months because of the Cyprus government's planned deployment of S-300 missiles from Russia.

Speaking during a commemorative church service, the Cypriot foreign minister Yiannakis Kassoulides defended his government's controversial decision to buy the anti-aircraft missiles.

"Cyprus is not strengthening its defences as an offensive option to strike anyone but to protect our sovereign rights," he said.

Demonstrations are planned for later in the day.

Celebrations in the North


[ image: Mesut Yilmaz: guest of honour for Turkish Cypriots]
Mesut Yilmaz: guest of honour for Turkish Cypriots
The Turkish prime minister, Mesut Yilmaz, joined the Turkish Cypriot leader, Rauf Denktash, for a military parade by some of the more than 30,000 Turkish troops in Cyprus.

In a further show of force, six Turkish warships docked in northern ports.

Mr Yilmaz reiterated Turkey's determination to ensure the security of the Turkish Cypriots, and he condemned the Greek Cypriot's decision to buy the S-300 missiles as "dangerous".

"The Greeks and the Greek Cypriots have not learnt any lessons from history - which they should have done," he said.

Turkey has said the missiles pose an unacceptable threat to its security and has threatened retaliation.

He also said that the European Union's decision to begin talks on Cypriot accession had encouraged Greece and Cyprus to increase tension in the region.

A past plagued by violence


[ image: Greek Cypriots' purchase of Russian missiles has raised tensions]
Greek Cypriots' purchase of Russian missiles has raised tensions
Turkey invaded northern Cyprus in 1974 following a Greek-Cypriot coup to overthrow the then Cypriot President Archbishop Makarios.

The Turkish Cypriots declared their own state in 1983, but this is recognised only by Turkey.

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

A bitter legacy

The BBC correspondent in Cyprus says the legacy of bitterness on both sides is still strong.

Correspondents say that the messages of both the Greek and the Turkish Cypriot leaders for the anniversary left diplomats pessimistic about the prospect of reunification.

"We shall not accept the fait accompli of the invasion, just as the international community does not accept it," said the Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides in his television address on Sunday to mark the anniversary.

In his address the Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash said there would be no return to the past. "We have not become slaves of the Greeks. We look into the future with hope," he said.



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