The Second Turkish Offensive in Cyprus, 14 August 1974

by Pavlos Andronikos

“[With the second offensive, the Turks] … have made themselves, in the eyes of the world, the deliberate violators of the independence and territorial integrity of a neighbouring sovereign state.” (Editorial, The Times, 15 Aug. 1974)


Turkish troops invaded Cyprus on 20 July 1974, five days after the government of the island was toppled by a military coup engineered by the US-sponsored junta then ruling Greece. This gave Turkey the pretext to invade for which she had been waiting since at least 1963.

The invasion, it was claimed, was to protect the Turkish Cypriots;[1] and to legitimise its aggression Turkey cited the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee.[2]

The international reaction was muted. Propaganda throughout the 50s and 60s had painted the Greek Cypriots in the blackest of colours, and Turkey’s military action was seen by many as having some justification.[3]

With the 2nd invasion of 14 August, however, a shocked world realised that the Turkish army had no intention of restoring constitutional order to the Republic of Cyprus, and that its aim was in reality to partition the island.

It should be noted that by imposing partition, Turkey violated the Treaty of Guarantee in its entirety, for the Treaty was created and agreed to by Britain, Greece, and Turkey specifically in order to rule out partition and enosis, and it expressly prohibits “partition of the Island”.[4]

In the initial invasion, Turkish forces captured only 3% of Cyprus before being compelled to accept a ceasefire. Three weeks after the ceasefire, and despite the fact that an agreement in Geneva seemed imminent, the Turkish army mounted its second full-scale offensive. This began within hours of the Turkish delegation’s refusal to grant the Greek Cypriot acting president Clerides a 36 hour break to consult with all parties before responding to Turkey’s demand for a federation.

As a result of the second offensive, almost 37% of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus fell to the Turkish military, and nearly one third of the population, some 164,000 Greek Cypriots, were forcibly uprooted from their homes and villages.[5] In fact, more Greek Cypriots became refugees, than the total number of Turkish Cypriots on the island.

As was realised when the Greek Cypriot refugees were not allowed to return to their homes, Turkey had expertly ethnically “cleansed” a massive area in the north of the island.

More than four decades later, the legitimate Greek Cypriot inhabitants, who constituted a majority in the occupied territory, have still not been allowed to return to their towns and villages, and the Turkish Army is still occupying 37% of Cyprus despite UN resolutions calling for its withdrawal. To make matters worse, Turkey has engaged in a huge and unlawful programme of colonisation and Turkification of the occupied territory. There are now anything from 175,000 to 250,000 illegal Turkish settlers in Cyprus, in contravention of the Geneva Convention.[6]


Varosi, Famagusta

One particularly shocking result of the 2nd invasion was the capture of Varosi, the modern section of Famagusta and Cyprus’ equivalent of the French Riviera. As the Turkish Army and the TMT terrorists pushed eastwards across Cyprus, they left behind them a bloody trail of indiscriminate murder and rape. Presumably the thrill of violence was a factor in their treatment of the Greek Cypriots they captured, but they also had a strategic aim—to scare the Greek inhabitants in their path and cause the bulk of them to flee to safety before this terror.

Thus, when the Turkish military got to Famagusta, they found Varosi almost completely emptied of its inhabitants, and they claimed it for themselves. There was no justification for this. None at all. Most of the Turkish Cypriots of Famagusta lived in the walled old city which lies to the north of Varosi. They could easily have partitioned off the old city and let Varosi be. Their capture of it was an act of greed and bloodymindedness.

It was because of this that the United Nations Security Council insisted in its rulings that Varosi must be returned to its inhabitants.[7] Forbidden from settling their own people in the town, the Turks simply fenced off the main and central part of Varosi where the prime beach and the luxury hotels were, and let it stand empty for decades—a ghost town. A more vindictive and spiteful stance is hard to imagine.

Pavlos Andronikos


[1] Deputy Prime Minister Tuğrul Türkeş has stated unequivocally the following: “There is this misinformation that Turkey is interested in Cyprus because there is a Turkish community there... Even if no Turks lived in Cyprus, Turkey would still have a Cyprus issue and it is impossible for Turkey to give up on that.” (“Türkeş: Bir tane Türk olmasa da Kıbrıs bizim meselemizdir”, En son haber 26 Jan. 2017)
See also Ahmet Davutoglu’s 2001 book Stratejik Derinlik: “Even if there was not one single Muslim Turk over there, Turkey would have to maintain a Cyprus question. No country could possibly be indifferent to an island like this, placed in the heart of its vital space.”

[2] “In so far as common or concerted action may not prove possible, each of the three guaranteeing Powers reserves the right to take action with the sole aim of re-establishing the state of affairs created by the present Treaty.” (Article IV, The Treaty of Guarantee).

[3] See, for example, the editorial in The Times of 14 Aug. 1974: “… their general aim is not illegitimate. They want to ensure the security of the Turkish Cypriot population…” (“What is Turkey Up To?” The Times, 14 Aug. 1974, p. 13.)
Unbelievably, this statement was made after The Sun had published appalling details of the horrors visited upon Cyprus by the First Invasion in the front-page article “Barbarians”! (Iain Walker, “Barbarians”, The Sun, 5 August 1974, p. 1)

[4] “Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom likewise undertake to prohibit, so far as concerns them, any activity aimed at promoting, directly or indirectly, either union of Cyprus with any other State or partition of the Island.” (Article II, The Treaty of Guarantee).

[5] See Preface, footnote 5 in Andreas Constandinos, America, Britain and the Cyprus Crisis of 1974: Calculated Conspiracy or Foreign Policy Failure? (AuthorHouse, 2009), p. 14.

[6] Fourth Geneva Convention, Section III, Article 49: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
Demographic sources: “North’s Population Tops 350 Thousand”, Cyprus Mail, 28 Nov. 2017; and “Cyprus Population 2018” at World Population Review (accessed 16 August 2018).

[7] See for example Resolution 550 of May 1984: The Security Council “considers attempts to settle any part of Varosha by people other than its inhabitants as inadmissible and calls for the transfer of that area to the administration of the United Nations”.

Demographic Maps of Cyprus 1960, 1974

Following the Turkish invasion, Cyprus has come to be seen, erroneously, as made up of a Greek South Cyprus and a Turkish Northern Cyprus. However it is wrong to identify the northern part of Cyprus which is currently occupied by the Turkish Army as Turkish, and equally wrong to identify the south as solely Greek. Prior to the Turkish invasion there was no large area of Cyprus that was purely Turkish or Greek. There were Greek and Turkish villages, as well as mixed villages, scattered all over the island, but overall the Greeks were in the majority. The Turkish invasion created an anomalous demographic state of affairs which has yet to be rectified.