ANKARA 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attended Peace and Freedom Day celebrations in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus to mark its 47th anniversary.

Turkey’s Vice President Fuat Oktay took to social media to celebrate and commemorate those who died during the operation.

“I congratulate the Peace and Freedom Day, which liberated the Turkish Cypriots and is the symbol of peace and national solidarity,” Oktay wrote on Twitter.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu also took to Twitter and said the July 20 operation “lit the torch of independence against those who aim to expel the Turkish Cypriots from their homeland and destroy the Turkish presence on the Island.”

Similarly, Turkey’s National Defense Ministry celebrated the occasion with a three-minute video showing historic moments when the Turkish military conducted the peace operation.

“We stand by our Turkish Cypriot brothers and sisters today, as we did yesterday, and we will continue to stand by them,” it said.

Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

Ethnic attacks starting in the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.

In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aiming at Greece’s annexation led to Turkey’s military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence.

The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) was founded in 1983.

It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Turkey, Greece, and the UK.

The Greek Cypriot administration entered the European Union in 2004, the same year that Greek Cypriots thwarted a plan by then-UN chief Kofi Anan to end the dispute.

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