Statement of President Ersin Tatar on 1 August Social Resistance Day
“Cyprus will never become a Hellenic Island”
President Ersin Tatar commemorated August 1 Social Resistance Day which marks the 451st anniversary of the Ottoman conquest of Cyprus, the 64th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Resistance Organisation (TMT) and the 46th anniversary of the Security Forces Command.
The statement of President Tatar is as follows:
“The island of Cyprus, which is located in a very important strategic position in the Mediterranean, was conquered by the Turks on August 1, 1571, at a cost of 80,000 martyrs. Our ancestors settled here from various parts of Anatolia, made their mark on these lands with Turkishness and made Cyprus a homeland.
The Turkish presence in Cyprus has continued since 1571 and our main duty is to continue to protect this presence in Cyprus and to keep our people free, independent and sovereign. This duty is our greatest debt to our ancestors and to all our martyrs.
The Turkish administration in Cyprus lasted for 307 years, where a life of security, peace and prosperity was provided to everybody equally, irrespective of their ancestry and ethnicity. People were granted the right to practice their own religious beliefs freely, which shows the greatness, nobility and justice of the Turkish nation.
However, peace and trust between peoples disappeared after the island was leased by the Ottomans to Britain in 1878. The increasing tensions on the island was further exacerbated when Britain unilaterally annexed the island of Cyprus in 1914, which was followed by intensive efforts by the Greeks to annex the island to Greece. The Turkish Cypriot people were subjected to a significant number of attacks and massacres. However, the Turkish Cypriot people always looked to the Taurus Mountains and continued their struggle with great faith and determination, with the support of Motherland Türkiye.
Today, if we are celebrating the 451st anniversary of the conquest of Cyprus by our ancestors in our own homeland under the roof of our own sovereign State, we owe it to our martyrs and the legendary resistance that was put forward by our people. The world should know that we will forever continue to celebrate the anniversary of the conquest of Cyprus by our ancestors in this land that we know as our homeland.
From the TMT to Statehood
Hundreds of Turkish Cypriots were systematically killed and abducted and our people were forced to emigrate due to the intensive efforts of the Greek-Greek Cypriot duo to make Cyprus a Hellenic island. This objective was spearheaded by the Greek Orthodox Church and the Greek Cypriot leadership, with the EOKA terrorist organisation commencing armed attacks on April 1, 1955. Our people were completely defenceless in this period and were in great danger.
The Turkish Cypriots had to form various resistance organisations, across the island, for the purposes of defending themselves from these armed attacks across the island, and to prevent Cyprus from becoming a Hellenic Island. However, it was necessary for the resistance to be coordinated from a single centre. Following the contacts of our former leader, Dr Fazıl Küçük and Founding President Rauf Denktaş in Ankara, the TMT was established on August 1, 1958, upon the instruction of the then Prime Minister Adnan Menderes and Minister of Foreign Affairs Fatih Rüştü Zorlu.
I commemorate the late Prime Minister Menderes, Foreign Minister Zorlu and the founders of TMT with respect and gratitude. The Turkish Cypriot People will never forget you and will always remember you with great respect and gratitude.
The TMT was born from the hearts of our people as a defence organisation. The main duty was to protect and defend the Turkish Cypriot people from the aggressors, to prevent them from becoming captives and not to allow the degradation and trampling over of the honour of Turkishness and Turkish flag.
The Turkish Cypriot people became equal founding partners of the Republic of Cyprus, which was established in 1960, following the struggle under the leadership of TMT. However, the Greek Cypriot leadership declared openly that what was formed was a state, and not a nation. Senior Greek Cypriot officials went further and stated publicly that the independence of Cyprus was not the final goal, and that the ‘Republic of Cyprus’ was to be used as "a springboard to annexing the island to Greece [Enosis]”. From the first day following the establishment of the partnership state, the Greek-Greek Cypriot duo was engaged in secret organisation and armament activities and making a plan to exterminate the Turkish Cypriots. The attacks on Turkish Cypriot People were executed under the Akritas Plan, which was initiated on December 21, 1963, which went down in our pages of history as ‘Bloody Christmas’. Whilst these atrocities were being committed against the Turkish Cypriots, the ‘Republic of Cyprus’, was hijacked and transformed into an entirely Greek Cypriot State, after Turkish Cypriots were expulsed out of the state apparatus with the use of force of arms in December 1963. In fact, in 1966, the national anthem of Greece was formally adopted as the national anthem of the ‘Republic of Cyprus’.
The Turkish Cypriot people continued their resistance under the leadership of TMT and with the support of Motherland Türkiye, we formed our own administration under the name of 'General Committee' in 1964. This was the first step on the road towards statehood. Following many years of atrocities committed against the Turkish Cypriot People, abductions and attacks on 103 Turkish villages across the island making over 25,000 Turkish Cypriots homeless who were forced to live in caves and tents for over a decade, on July 15, 1974 a coup d’état was made by the Greek Junta. The declaration of the ‘Hellenic Republic of Cyprus’ obliged Türkiye to undertake the Cyprus Peace Operation on July 20, 1974, in order to bring real peace to the Peoples of the island and to prevent Enosis. Since then, the Turkish Cypriots have been able to live in freedom in their homeland.
Negotiation processes have been held for many decades, as they had started in 1968 with regards to the Cyprus issue. However, efforts to reach a federal-based solution failed on numerous counts, with the most remembered separately held simultaneous referenda that was held for a UN Comprehensive Settlement [Annan] Plan in 2004. Whilst the Turkish Cypriot Side voted in favour of the plan by 64 per cent, the Greek Cypriot Side voted against it by 76 per cent. Furthermore, years of negotiations again collapsed in Crans Montana in 2017.
The Turkish Cypriot Side’s current proposal is for a settlement to be reached on the basis of the existence of two sovereign equal States – a position that is fully supported by motherland Türkiye. This proposal was put onto the negotiating table for the first time in Geneva last year. We will not take a step back from this solution proposal.
The Turkish Cypriot people have withdrawn their consent for a federal settlement because that basis, which was on the table for more than half-a-century, has been exhausted due to the Greek Cypriot Side’s continuous rejections. Furthermore, it is not possible for us to accept a federal based solution which abolishes the guarantor status of motherland Türkiye and the retraction of the Turkish army from Cyprus – which is our greatest guarantee and security. The only solution that will benefit Cyprus and the region is one that is based on the factual realities on the ground and the existence of two sovereign equal States.
The People's Army
Since the 1974 Cyprus Peace Operation, there has been peace in the whole of the island and Turkish Cypriot People have been able to live in freedom. Whilst the Turkish Federated State of Cyprus was declared on February 13, 1975, the Security Forces Command (GKK) was established on the foundations of the legendary resistance organisation TMT on August 1, 1976. The GKK, which is the army of the people, has developed day-by-day and has become a modern, well equipped and strong army.
The GKK, together with the Cyprus Turkish Peace Forces Command, is the greatest protector of our people. I respectfully salute all our commanders and soldiers who ensure our protection and provide us security.
I also salute all our veterans with respect and I commemorate all our martyrs who sacrificed their lives during the conquest of Cyprus to the years of struggle waged by the Turkish Cypriot People with gratitude. May they all rest in eternal peace.”