NICOSIA (CNA)–Cyprus charged that the aim of Turkey is to completely turkify the occupied north of the island and erase any signs of the long historic Greek presence there.
The statement was made by Cyprus’ Permanent Representative to the UN–Sotos Zackheos–before the UN General Assembly during a discussion on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
In his speech Zackheos noted that as recognized by the UN "genocide is the ultimate crime and the gravest violation of human rights," he said.
In Cyprus–he added–"having a vibrant–talented and entrepreneurial Armenian community we can appreciate–first hand–the trauma felt by this community for the serious injustices their ancestors suffered."
Unfortunately–he added–"the same policy has been applied against the people of Cyprus during and in the aftermath of the 1974 Turkish military invasion and occupation of 37 per cent of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus–resulting in one third of the population being forced out of their homes and finding themselves as refugees in their own country."
Zackheos said "Turkey’s policy of ethnic cleansing against the population of Cyprus is further attested by the massive colonization and systematic destruction of the religious and cultural heritage in the territory occupied by the Turkish army and by the inhumane conditions of life imposed on the few Greek Cypriots and Maronites still living in the occupied part of the island."
"There is no doubt that the aim is to turkify completely the occupied area and to erase any signs of the long historic Greek presence there," Zackheos said.
He also referred to the plight of the Armenian community who–"in the aftermath of the Turkish invasion in 1974–lost their homes and properties."