The Republic of Turkey has played an instrumental role in the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. Besides providing weapons such as Bayraktar drones, armored personnel carriers, and cluster munitions, Ankara has negotiated a grain corridor for a year and a half, alleviating the wheat crisis that plagued third-world nations during the war.

Along with military and diplomatic support, Turkey also successfully negotiated the release of the Azov commanders and is now actively attempting to mediate the release of tens of thousands of Ukrainian children from Russian possession.

Turkey’s tremendous deeds to Ukraine are invaluable, but these acts also bring up their haunting past. Where Turkey is now negotiating the release of missing Ukrainian POWs and children, the country must also do the same for missing Cypriots after the 1974 invasion.

1974 Turkish Invasion of Cyprus

In the early 1970s, Cyprus was embroiled in ethnic tensions that the United Nations had failed to mitigate. Then Cypriot President Archbishop Makarios grew out of favor with his National Guard, the Greek junta in Athens, and the paramilitary EOKA group over his policies of failing to unite the isle with Greece (Enosis).

The powder keg resulted in the Cypriot coup, which triggered the first Turkish invasion on July 20th, 1974. In the first Turkish invasion, 3% of the isle was captured, and the inability of the Greek and Cypriot juntas to anticipate the domino effect led to the fall of both nations’ military rule.

The United States government appointed Henry Kissinger to mend the tensions in the Mediterranean while the interim civilian governments took power in Greece and Cyprus. However, Kissinger, along with Turkey, had other plans. Wanting NATO to have an extended presence in Cyprus, Kissinger quietly planned another invasion alongside Ankara.

The second invasion, backed by the United States, occurred during the Geneva Peace Conference on August 14th, between Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus, nearly a month after the first incursion. In the second invasion, Operation Attila involved ethnic cleansing, whole-scale massacres and left Cyprus permanently divided between Greek and Turkish villages. The Green Line and Dhekelia British sovereign base would mark the new border of the occupied and accessible areas of Cyprus.