20th July 1991 and my new life in Northern Cyprus


By Ahmet Abdulaziz…….

With my wife and 3 year old son, I had arrived in Northern Cyprus in mid July. The year was 1991 and as a young chartered accountant, 36 years of age, author of a couple of books about Turkey and Cyprus, I was eager to settle in this lovely part of the world.

Giving life a fresh start in a different country is not something easy so in  the melting heat of July/August 1991, I was running here and there to find a job for myself.

During those highly tough and tiring days of my life, the 20th July 1991 helped me to pass through a total day with an occasion that took away all my concerns and problems for a couple of hours.

We were living in a small pension inside old Lefkoşa, and the 20th July celebrations and military march past was going to be held at the main road in front of Girne Kapı (Kyrenia Gate).  At about 9am I took my three year old son with me, dressed in green shirt and green shorts.  I gave him small flags of TRNC and Turkey to wave. People had started coming and standing on both sides of the road. Most of the crowd was on the other side of the road, facing the main covered stand where the dignitary guests, top ranking officials, and other guests were sitting.

I was however, more excited to see Mr Rauf Denktaş, the man I had read about in a lot of books before coming to Cyprus, but it was going to be the first time that I was going to see him, but that was not just all for me.  Along with my son we both were also interested to watch the military parade and tanks.

We waited on the pavement, along with other people. My son was very excited, waving the flags and I took some photos of him.

I did not have to wait long to see Mr Rauf Denktaş addressing the crowd. I simply cannot forget that particular moment. I still have that moment saved in my memory. My son also  clapped, as the crowd clapped, frequently during his speech.

Following that unforgettable speech, the march past consisting of school boys and girls, other organisations etc started, followed by the military.  I always loved watching the soldiers. The armed forces, particularly the air force, always attracted me the most. Most probably, my childhood dream  of becoming an airforce  pilot, which never materialised. Aircraft etc are still my weak point, I love watching the fighter jets, and like watching the soldiers’ movies.

Well, on that day I watched the march past of the Turkish soldiers for the first time, and loved it. The display of the tanks and other armaments was simply very impressive.

While watching the soldiers passing by me, I had almost forgotten my son, who was finding it difficult to watch them, since he had to find a way through the legs of the people standing in front of him.

Back home, it was not just my son, who narrated the whole event to his mother, I was perhaps more sentimental to disclose my feelings about the whole event.

The moral of the story is that my wife, who was pregnant at that time, and could not go to the Kyrenia Gate that time, never missed any subsequent national day parades.

Every year, on 20th july, I go through the same feelings that I had experienced on 20th July 1991. Since then I have attended innumerable national days celebrations in the TRNC, but never felt quite the same feelings again. The reason is that on that particular day of 1991, this particular occasion had taken me out of all of my worries, and made me experience totally different feelings.