Turkey’s stance hampers progress in missing persons’ issue, House President tells EP delegation

Turkey’s refusal to provide information contained in its military archives, regarding burial sites of missing persons in Cyprus, is hampering progress in this humanitarian issue, House President Demetris Syllouris said on Wednesday.

Syllouris was speaking during a meeting, in Nicosia, with a delegation of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), headed by Spanish European parliamentarian Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar (S and D).

According to an official announcement, the President of the House described the difficulties in having access to areas designated as military zones in the northern Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, and asked LIBE to intervene in order to gain access to archives with information, as well as to specific locations.

Lopez Aguilar underlined LIBE’s strong interest in this issue, that concerns the return of remains of missing persons to their relatives, and highlighted once more the Committee’s support to the work of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) in Cyprus.

Other LIBE members also expressed their support to the families of missing persons, the announcement says.

Moreover, the EP delegation met with Skevi-Koutra Koukouma, the President of the House Committee on Refugees-Enclaved-Missing-Adversely Affected Persons, and members of the same Committee. Koukouma underlined the importance of having access military archives in Turkey and other countries that had a presence on the island during the 1974 Turkish invasion.

Koukouma further noted Ankara’s refusal to cooperate over this humanitarian issue, in total disregard of the decisions of international organizations and tribunals.

The LIBE delegation had on Wednesday a series of contacts on the island in order to take stock of the progress made by CMP in recovering and identifying the remains of missing persons.

Apart from Aguilar, the delegation included Asim Ademov (BulgariaEPP) and Tomas Zdechovsk? (Czech Republic, EPP). They were accompanied by Cypriot MEPs Lefteris Christoforou (EPP), Costas Mavrides (S and D) and Takis Hadjigeorgiou (GUE/NGL).

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Since then, the fate of hundreds of people remains unknown.

A Committee on Missing Persons has been 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.

Source: Cyprus News Agency