Turkey on Cyprus Derynia killings (1996)

Suggested Citation: Neophytos G. Loizides, Greek-Turkish Negotiations and Crises 1983-2003 Dataset , Queen's University Belfast (available online at http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentrefortheStudyofEthnicConflict/TeachingResearch/Datasets/Greek-TurkishNegotiationsandCrises1983-2003/#d.en.173636)

Two Greek Cypriots are killed during demonstrations in the Green line in August 1995. Tassos Isaac is clubbed to death by Turkish counter-demonstrators and policemen when he becomes entangled in barbed wire in the buffer zone, while Solomos Solomou is shot while climbing a pole to remove a Turkish flag. UN peacekeepers say Turkish and Turkish Cypriot military personnel fire indiscriminately into the buffer zone, resulting in Solomou's death. Turkish troops, according to the UN, fire 25 to 50 rounds of ammunition into the crowd, a scene witnessed by the UN force commander. Greece's foreign minister, Theodoros Pangalos, denounces the killings, while his Turkish counterpart, Tansu Çiller, declares: “Where we come from, no one lays a finger on the flag. If anybody has the nerve to do that, we will break their hands.” [i] For the period 8/15/1996 – 9/15/1996, Lexis/Nexis provides 31 results for the terms “Greece” and “Turkey” and “crisis” (full text search under European News Sources). 

Case Study Features:

Indistinguishability of Offensive vs. Defensive Action: 0

The demonstrators are unarmed, and the pose very little threat to Turkey or its soldiers in Cyprus. The Turkish government itself sees its actions as defensive, but third parties see very few defensive motives in the killings of the Greek Cypriots. For instance, in an unusually strong response to the Turkish PM’s justification of violence, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns argues, “Protection of a flag cannot excuse the horrible events of Aug. 14. Human life and the sanctity of human life are ultimately more important than protecting a piece of cloth.”[ii]

Effectiveness of offense versus the defense : 1

Turkey enjoys a military advantage in Cyprus. There are four times more Turkish soldiers in the island than Greek Cypriots.

Domestic Challenge: 1

Only a month before this crisis, a government is formed between Çiller’s DYP party and the Islamists headed by Erbakan. The military views this alliance with suspicion and a coup is already on the agenda.

Enduring Ethnic Rivalries: 1

There are enduring rivalries with Greece, resulting from crises in Cyprus, Thrace, and the Aegean, as well as the support that Turkey claims Greece and Cyprus have given PKK.

Confrontational Policies: 1

Turkey uses indiscriminate violence against a non-threatening demonstration. Two Greek Cypriots die in front of the cameras of world media.


[i] Ibid.

[ii] George Gedda, “US Assails Statement by Turkish Diplomat”, The Associated Press, August 08, 1996.