Turkey has used two main pretexts for invading the island. The first one is the coup engineered by the Greek junta, which toppled the democratically-elected Cypriot president, Archbishop Makarios III. The coup collapsed a few days later and democratic rule in Cyprus was re-established. Hence, there was no actual need for Turkey to intervene. A second excuse was that Turkey “aimed at protecting Turkish Cypriots” from Greek Cypriot violence. But even Turkish officials have confessed that the violence was mostly committed by Turks to pave the way for a military invasion.
General Sabri Yirmibesoglu, a Turkish army officer, for example, said in 2010 that Turkey had burned a mosque during the Cyprus conflict “in order to foster civil resistance” against Greek Cypriots. He also said that “the Turkish special warfare department has a rule to engage in acts of sabotage against the respected values [of the Turks] made to look as if they were carried out by the enemy.”
Today Turkey still shockingly calls the atrocities it committed in 1974 “a peace operation.”