From 1571 until its renting to UK in 1878, Turks owned and governed the Cyprus island.

In 1955, EOKA (the National Union of Cypriot Fighters; a terrorist Greek Cypriot guerrilla organisation) revolted against British colonial rule aimed at Enosis (union with Greece).

In 1960, a partnership country was formed by the peoples of Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots.

In 1963, Greek Cypriots tried to change power-sharing constitution, and conflict between two peoples started.

In 1974, Greek Cypriots launched a coup inspired by the military junta in Greece to achieve enosis. Little later, Turkey acted on Cyprus island to prevent its annexation to Greece.

Was Turkey’s operation on Cyprus in 1974 legal based on the following general principles:

  • Sanctions (if any) caused by the intervention
  • UN Security Council resolutions
  • PACE's (The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) first hand decisions
  • Court cases of the intervened sides (Greek Cypriots, Greece)
  • Then-president wordings during the period covering both the coup and the intervention
  • Treaty of Guarantee of 1960


  • 2
    Please consider changing the title. What are "the general principles"? Also, legality is not based on the principles you list. So, you can ask about accordance with the documents you list, and you can ask about legality, but the way your question stands you're conflating the two.
    – einpoklum
    Dec 6 '18 at 23:35

No it was not.

Turkey using as an excuse the treaty of guarantee, invaded, occupied and still has under its control a part of a foreign Sovereign Nation (Republic of Cyprus)

The article of wikipedia is relatively un-biased and has good sources on the legitimacy of this military invasion

The main reason this act was an illegal invasion was that the treaty of guarantee states that a guarantor power can intervene to enforce the constitution when it is violated. But from the results of this invasion we see that not only was the constitution not restored but a separate "entity/state/puppet" was created. This shows the true nature/reason of the invasion that was for Turkey to take a part of the island under its control to effectively guard its southern border

Regarding United Nation reaction to these illegal invasion see UN Resolution 353, UN Resolution 360 and UN Security Council Resolution 367 that condemn the invasion

Also it's good to note that even USA enforced a guns embargo on Turkey after the illegal invasion. Even though this embargo lasted for just a few years (for economic reasons I assume) since Turkey spends a lot on arms.


Based in general principles the Turkish “intervention” in Cyprus was legal because it was structured to be by the mastermind behind it, Henry Kissinger. The Cypriot coup was put in motion by the Greece military junta as per CIA orders. After the coup Nikos Sampson (“The butcher of Omorphita” as nicknamed by the Turkish Cypriots) was intentionally stated as de-facto “president” in Cyprus hence giving the excuse for Turkish invasion to protect the Turkish Cypriot community.


Yes, Turkey’s intervention on Cyprus in 1974 was legal based on the general principles:

1. Applications of sanctions
Till now, there is NO sanction applied on Turkey due to 1974 Cyprus war.

If a country invades another one, UN imposes sanctions on that country. Iraq invaded Kuwait, and UN imposed sanctions on Iraq. Turkey did not invade Cyprus, hence UN did not impose any sanction on Turkey.

2. The appearance of phrase "invasion" in UN Security Council resolutions

There is no UN Security Council resolution that calls the Turkey’s 1974 action as "invasion".

3. The first hand decisions of The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)

PACE(29.07.1974, Resolution 573): "The Turkish military INTERVENTION was the exercise of a RIGHT EMANATING FROM AN INTERNATIONAL TREATY and the fulfilment of a LEGAL and MORAL obligation."

4. Greece’s court decisions

Athens Court of Appeals (21.03.1979; Case No: 2658/79): “The Turkish military INTERVENTION in Cyprus, which was carried out in accordance with the Zurich and London Accords, was LEGAL. Turkey, as one of the Guarantor Powers, had the right to fulfill her obligations. The real culprits ... are the Greek officers who engineered and staged a coup and prepared the conditions for this INTERVENTION."

Note: Just after 5 years later than 1974, in 1979, Greece’s Highest Court decided Turkish military intervention is legal without making any difference between 1st and 2nd military operation.

5. Makarios (Then-President of Cyprus) speech during the period covering both the coup and the intervention

Makarios (the UN Security Council Speech, 19 July 1974): "CYPRUS WAS INVADED BY GREECE". Sound record of the speech

6. Treaty of Guarantee of 1960
Turkey acted on Cyprus via Article IV(2) Treaty of Guarantee ("In the event of a breach of the provisions of the present treaty, Greece, Turkey and the United Kingdom undertake to consult together with respect to the representations or measures necessary to ensure observance of those provisions. 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."), hence in compatible with Art. 2(4) UN Charter.

  • 5
    Note, however, that Turkey was explicitly condemned by the U.N. Security Council (Resolutions 550) for recognizing the TRNC as a sovereign state. It is difficult to make the case that this condemnation is unrelated to the 1974 war. Aug 31 '17 at 18:28
  • Turkey was not condemned by 1974-interference. That is what matters. Legality of 1974-action and legality of 1983-UDI declaration are two separate cases. UNSC 550 does NOT condemn Turkey as well. UNSC 550 "condemns all secessionist actions". Turkish Cypriots declared TRNC, not Turkey. TCs acted secessionedly. Also, 541 and 550 uses phrases "CALLS UPON" that is not a legal phrasing. 541 and 550 does NOT give legal reason why UDI of TRNC must be rejected. That is second weak point behind these resolutions.
    – user12034
    Dec 7 '17 at 6:44
  • 13
    Asking a question and then answering itself shortly afterwards and accepting it has a certain smell of political propaganda to it. It definitely does not look like a good-faith approach to get a correct answer.
    – Thern
    Mar 9 '18 at 11:13
  • 5
    If I just reverse which words are in CAPS letter in your quote of the 1960 treaty of Guarantee, the conclusion will be juste the opposite of yours : "the right to take action with the sole aim of re-establishing the state of affairs created by the present Treaty."
    – Evargalo
    Mar 27 '18 at 13:48
  • @Evargalo, "aim" is an abstract word. One can or cannot prove/disprove an argument on it. Returning to the normal conditions (re-establishing the state of affairs) via 2004-UN Annan plan was supported by Turkey and Turkish Cypriots, rejected by Greek Cypriots. What could/can have Turkey done if Greek Cypriots (had) never wanted to return normal conditions then! NOTHING. Greek Cypriots still see Turkish Cypriots as "minority" whereas according to 1960-ROC constitutions, Turkish Cypriots are "co-founder people", and Turkish Cypriot Vice President CAN veto every decision of the president of ROC!
    – user12034
    Jul 18 '18 at 10:00

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