From the Shacolas Tower in Lefkosia or the Saray Hotel in Lefkoşa (and indeed, from any other vantage point which has a clear view north) you can’t help but see two enormous flags on the nearest south-facing hillside. One represents the TRNC (red crescent and star on a white background with red bar above and below), the other Turkey (white crescent and star on red background). The story behind them is rather dispiriting for those who would like to see the island reunited. Officially created to honour the great Turkish leader Ataturk (the slogan below the Turkish flag – “How happy is he who can say he is a Turk” – is attributed to him), the position of the flags seems to indicate that this explanation is disingenuous. A more believable version says that the Turks created the flags by painting boulders at night, turning them face down during the day then, on the eve of August 15, a national holiday in the Greek Cypriot calendar but also the anniversary of the 1974 Tochni massacre of Turkish Cypriots, turned them face up so that they could be seen in the south. In other words, a taunt or a memorial, depending on your point of view.

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