Karaoglanoglu Memorial

To understand in advance more about the significance of this memorial site and the adjacent museum as well as what they symbolise, a brief overview of the island of Cyprus’ history is required.  

When the Ottoman empire took control in 1461 of what we today know as Greece, the Greeks preserved their culture through the Orthodox church.

When the Ottomans arrived in Cyprus in 1571, they freed the Orthodox church from centuries of Latin control. Over the years, the Greek influence and the control that the Orthodox church had was gradually strengthened, to such an extent that there was eventually little difference between religious activities and political activities.

In 1832, after a long and bitter war, Greece was granted independence from the Ottomans.

Although there had been conflict in Cyprus, the island was not part of the agreement – however when the British arrived in 1878, there were hopes that they would grant Cyprus Enosis, in other words, union with Greece.

However, that was not to be the case and from the 1930’s a gradual escalation of civil unrest was seen, largely instigated by the church. In 1955, EOKA was formed as a terrorist organisation with the sole aim of getting the British out and absorbing the island into Greece.

Unfortunately, little thought was made of what the Turkish Cypriots living peacefully on the island would think of this. EOKA violence escalated against not only the British, but against anybody that did not support Enosis. Attacks against Turkish villages became more common, and in 1958, Turkish Cypriots formed the TMT in an attempt to counter EOKA.

In 1959, the London and Zurich agreements laid the foundations for the independence of Cyprus, however Greek Cypriots saw this as a steppingstone to Enosis, and in 1963, a secret plan was drawn up which discarded the 1960 constitution.

As part of this plan, Turkish Cypriots were gradually displaced from their villages and placed in enclaves. In December of 1963, systematic violence against Turkish Cypriots erupted, and this was to continue for several years, and gradually separated the island into Greek and Turkish community areas.

In 1974, a Greek sponsored coup overthrew Archbishop Makarios with the intention of forcing Enosis onto the island.

To prevent this, under the order of late Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, Turkey invoked its rights to intervene under the Treaty of Guarantee, and on 20 July 1974 launched what is known as the 1st Peace Operation.

“We are actually going to the island for peace, not for war, and not just for the Turkish Cypriots but for the Greek Cypriots as well,” Mr Ecevit told reporters at the time.

This operation came five days after a Greek junta-engineered coup saw EOKA terrorist Nicos Sampson installed as the island’s leader. Scores of Greek Cypriots were killed by fellow Greek Cypriots during the violence.

Sampson would later say in an interview with a Greek newspaper, printed in 1981, that had Turkey not intervened “I would not only have proclaimed Enosis, I would have annihilated the Turks in Cyprus”.

A ceasefire was agreed at 4pm on 22 July 1974, leaving the Turkish Army in control of a stretch of land including the main road between Kyrenia and Nicosia.

However attacks on the Turkish Cypriot population continued and the precarious situation of its own troops prompted Turkey to launch the second phase of its operation in August of the same year, eventually extending the safe haven for Turkish Cypriots to today’s boundaries.

These Peace Operations confirmed an already divided island into Greek Cyprus and Turkish Cyprus, and it declared its independence on 15 November 1983 as the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus.

The momentous Karaoglanoglu Memorial was built in memory of soldiers who gave their lives during the Peace Operations of 1974, and takes it name after the regiment Commander Colonel Halil İbrahim Karaoğlanoğlu, one of the first officers to die in the first hours of the Operation.

The story of the conflict is represented here in words and pictures as a factual presentation, and the displays are in English as well as Turkish. English speaking National servicemen from the Turkish Army are also on hand to guide visitors through the various parts of the memorial.

The two striking columns that greet visitors at the entrance symbolise the door to Turkey. Further in, a small military graveyard holding the remains of some of the casualties, including that of Colonel Karaoglanoglu, the most senior officer to be killed in the operation, and whose name was also given to the nearby village in his memory.

The group of statues symbolise the Republic of Turkey and Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, built on four columns, representing the four-day duration of the first Peace Operation.

The Peace & Freedom Museum next to the memorial consists of an indoor and outdoor area. The open air consists of a display of vehicles and arms left by the fleeing Greek soldiers, while indoors there is a display of photographs of the military action, artillery as well as possessions and uniforms of some of the Operation martyrs.

A short distance from the museum is the momentous Peace & Freedom Icon at the actual point of the landings of the Turkish Peace Operation.

An easily accessible main road stop on your NCY visit and 15-minute drive from Kyrenia Town Centre, it is recommended to spend an hour to take in all the remarkable facts and take plentiful photos – a sombre yet very interesting experience for most and children tend to enjoy viewing the old tanks and vehicles at the outdoor museum.