Nicosia.- GreekNewsOnline, CNA, Cyprus Mail)
Cypriot President called for unity among political parties, as the state honoured those killed in defence of the Republic during the military coup d’ etat in July 15, 1974 which paved the way for the Turkish military invasion five days later and the subsequent division of Cyprus. The coup was organized by the Greek military junta, then ruling Greece and toppled the democratically elected President of Cyprus, the late Archbishop Makarios III. The coup provided Turkey with a pretext to launch an invasion and occupation of the island`s northern third.
Air raid sirens sounded at 8.20am on Saturday, marking the anniversary of the beginning of the coup on July 15, 1974 to overthrow president Makarios.
A church service for those killed during the coup was held in the morning at Saint Constantinos and Eleni Church in Nicosia, attended by President Nicos Anastasiades and other officials.
“Today is day of shame, a black page in our history, a day of treachery by the military Junta of Athens, which with no doubt left scars that endure until this day through the division of our country,” President Anastasiades said in statements following the memorial service.
“What history teaches is that through unity we should give struggles necessary in unison with a common aim to rid our country from the occupying troops, reunification and peaceful cohabitation with our Turkish Cypriot compatriots,” Anastasiades concluded.
Wreaths were laid at the graves of those killed defending the Republic against the Athens-backed coup. Relatives of those killed fighting the coupists voiced their disapproval when the representative of far-right party Elam laid a wreath.
“Shame, shame,” they cried.
The Elam (Ultra-rightist party, like Greek Golden Dawn) ) representative turned around and said: “Did you come to the Mari (naval base) memorial the other day?” He was suggesting that his detractors were leftists who supported former president Demetris Christofias and did not think he was to blame for the explosion at the naval base that killed 13 firemen and sailors. Reports said that after the end of the service, a woman removed the far-right party’s wreath.
The party also laid a wreath at the graves of soldiers who died attacking the presidential palace on July 15, 1974.
There was more embarrassment later when President Anastasiades failed to attend a special parliamentary session to mark the anniversary.
House President Demetris Syllouris assumed responsibility, saying his office had omitted to send an invitation to the president.
Akel leader Andros Kyprianou censured Anastasiades for being absent, saying that even without an invite, the president knew that parliament was convening to mark the anniversary.
Diko chairman Nicolas Papadopoulos went a step further, tweeting a photo of Anastasiades as a young lawyer defending members of EOKA B in court.
“No reference to EOKA B by N. Anastasiades in his statements today. Only to the Athens junta. Nor did he attend parliament,” the presidential hopeful said.
The session started with a minute’s silence to honour the memory of those who died defending the Republic.
Backed by Greece’s junta, National Guard units and members of the EOKA B paramilitary organisation ousted Makarios and replaced him with Nicos Sampson.
In response to the coup, Turkey invaded the island five days later. It still occupies 37 per cent of its territory.
Ruling Disy chief Averof Neophytou, whose party has been charged over the years of sheltering people with links to the coup, said Cypriots were obliged to draw lessons from the past.
“We condemn (the coup) we don’t forget, and we will never forget,” he said.
He also thanked the Greek parliament for handing over the findings of its inquiry into the events of July 1974. The probe had taken place between 1986 and 1988 but the archives were kept under wraps until now.
Andros Kyprianou also thanked the Greek parliament, adding that the matter had been raised by the party after the current administration in Greece came to power in 2015.
He said researchers, journalists, historians, and others, must be given unrestricted access to the documents.
Part of the findings have not been handed over because they are still classified. The President of the Greek parliament has said that the material would be declassified and handed over, possibly in a few months.
Nicolas Papadopoulos said “treason cannot be classified.”
Edek chairman Marinos Sizopoulos said the archives contained aspects of conspiracy.
Part of the material that was still in Greece were the archives of the National Guard command.