MIDDLE EAST

Turkish opposition leader urges peace on Cyprus

TURKISH OPPOSITION LEADER URGES PEACE ON CYPRUS

The leader of Turkey's main opposition party on Thursday expressed his wish for a permanent peace on the island of Cyprus.

In a statement marking the anniversary of Turkey's intervention on Cyprus to protect its Turkish population, Republican People's Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kilicdaroglu said: "I wish mercy for our martyrs on the 43rd anniversary of the Cyprus Peace Operation."

He added: "I hope a permanent peace on Cyprus will be reached soon."

The eastern Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, when Turkish soldiers interceded under Ankara's guarantor status to protect the Turkish community.

Violence broke out amid a Greek Cypriot attempt to forcibly unite Cyprus with Greece, which was then ruled by a military junta. Turkey sent 40,000 troops -- Operation Atilla -- to the island's north.

In a press conference in parliament, CHP Vice Chairman Ozturk Yilmaz said that the Turkish Foreign Ministry should appoint a special envoy responsible for promotion international recognition for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC).

"The Foreign Ministry should strive for recognition of the TRNC," said Yilmaz.

In the TRNC today, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim called the 1974 operation "a turning point in the island's history," when Turkey showed the world it would not allow 'enosis', meaning a Greek takeover of Cyprus.

Negotiations over Cyprus have been marked by a failed 2004 peace plan -- which the Greek Cypriot side rejected but the Turkish Cypriots agreed to in a referendum -- as well as the collapse earlier this month of talks in Crans-Montana, Switzerland.

Speaking in parliament, CHP Deputy Dursun Cicek praised the 1974 Cyprus Peace Operation, saying: "If the Turkish Cypriots are free now, if they live under equal conditions with the Greek Cypriots, they owe this to this [peace] operation."

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