Turkey must give information on missing persons, Photiou stresses during meeting with AHEPA delegation

Turkey must at last be convinced to make effective steps, giving all the information in the archives of the Turkish army both as regards the collection of dead people from the battlefields during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974, and the removal of remains from the original burial sites, Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou has said, adding that this will create conditions that will contribute to the solution of the problem of missing persons in Cyprus.

A press release issued by the Presidency said that Photiou met on Monday at this office with a delegation of American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) officials, headed by their Supreme President Carl Hollister. During the meeting, Photiou elaborated on efforts to ascertain the fate of missing persons in Cyprus, noting that without the substantive participation and cooperation of Turkey, who occupies part of Cyprus territory, the humanitarian issue of missing persons cannot be solved.

The Commissioner asked for AHEPAs contribution to efforts made vis-a-vis the US government, given the fact that US citizens of Cypriot descent are included in the missing persons list. On his part, Hollister, thanked Photiou for briefing them and assured that they will do their utmost for a settlement of the humanitarian issue of missing persons, and so that the struggle of the people of Cyprus bears fruit.

During their meeting, Photiou also referred to the violations of human rights in Cyprus by Turkey, especially those related to the exercise of the religious and cultural rights, as well as to the destruction of the cultural heritage in the Turkish occupied areas of the island

He made a special reference to efforts being made to secure that the enclaved Greek Cypriots and Maronites will be able to continue living in the occupied areas, and for the smooth operation of Greek Cypriot schools in the occupied Rizokarpaso.

The Presidential Commissioner noted that the full restoration and the respect of human rights in Cyprus constitute a necessary precondition to achieve a viable and functional settlement of the Cyprus problem, a settlement that will reunite the country and will terminate the occupation and the illegal settling.

Photiou also briefed the delegation on diaspora issues, elaborating of the trilateral cooperation schemes with Greece and Israel, Egypt and Armenia, while noting that the first Trilateral meeting with Greece and Lebanon on diaspora issues will take place during the next days.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invade and occupied its northern third. Hundreds of Greek Cypriots went missing during the invasion, mostly combatants but also women, children, and elderly persons. During the same period and in the early 1960s when intercommunal fighting broke out, Turkish Cypriots went missing too.

The Committee on Missing Persons was established upon agreement between the leaders of the two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning the remains of missing persons to their relatives. It is a tripartite intercommunal investigatory committee comprising a representative of the Greek Cypriot community, a representative of the Turkish Cypriot community, and a third member nominated by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and appointed by the UN Secretary General.

So far, the remains of 870 missing persons have been identified and returned to the families for a dignified burial.

Source: Cyprus News Agency