The time in North Cyprus is

Peace and Freedom Day

20th July

During the presidential elections of 1974, President Makarios clearly renounced the cause of enosis, (unification with Greece), and was re-elected with 95% of the cast votes. He subsequently ordered the withdrawal of mainland Greek officers. On the 15th July, the National Guard, which was under the command of Greek officers, stormed the presidential palace in Nicosia, with the aim of uniting the island with Greece. Makarios escaped, but this attempted coup, sponsored by the military junta in Greece, prompted considerable violence against Turkish Cypriots. During the days following the attempted coup, many Turkish Cypriot villages were razed and their inhabitants slaughtered.

On the 20th July 1974, after consultation with Britain, Turkey intervened with a Peace-Keeping Action to protect the Turkish Cypriot community. This was in exercise of the powers of guarantee agreed in the Treaty of Zurich.

Launched with relatively few troops, the Turkish landing had limited success at first, and resulted everywhere on the island in the occupation of Turkish-Cypriot enclaves by the Greek forces. After securing a more or less satisfactory bridgehead Turkish forces agreed to a cease-fire on 23 July 1974. A conference of the guarantor powers, Greece, Turkey and Britain, met in Geneva on 25 July. Meanwhile Turkish troops did not refrain from extending their positions, as more Turkish-Cypriot enclaves were occupied by Greek forces. In a two-stage offensive, Turkish troops took control of 38% of the island. 200,000 Greek Cypriots fled the Turkish forces while up to 60,000 Turkish Cypriots were transferred to the occupied areas, and a new cease-fire line was agreed. On 30 July the powers agreed that the withdrawal of Turkish troops from the island should be linked to a “just and lasting settlement acceptable to all parties concerned.” The declaration also spoke of “two autonomous administrations - that of Greek-Cypriot community and that of the Turkish-Cypriot community.”

Since the events of 1974, the island has remained divided, roughly one third being occupied by Turkish Cypriots. July 20th is celebrated as an anniversary of the peace keeping operation, with parades in all the major towns. 

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