By Stefanos Evripidou
THE COMMITTEE on Missing Persons (CMP) is ready to proceed with the exhumation of remains in three military zones in the north if the Turkish army gives the go-ahead, said outgoing Greek Cypriot CMP member Aristos Aristotelous on Friday.
Aristotelous said the three sites have been listed as priority areas, adding that the intention is to start with the exhumations within 2013, depending on the response of the Turkish military to an official CMP request.
“We expect a response from the other side,” said Aristotelous.
He noted that exhumations in military zones present a “higher success ratio” of discovery of remains, standing at 50 per cent success rate, compared to 35 per cent in civilian areas.
Exhumations in civilian areas lead to the discovery of the remains of 1.2 missing persons per try, he said, while for military zones, the ratio is significantly higher, at 3.2 per try.
According to data presented by Aristotelous, from the 2,001 people recorded as missing (1,508 Greek Cypriots and 493 Turkish Cypriots), the remains of 950 persons have been exhumed to date since 2006.
From those, the remains of 419 persons have been identified so far, though that figure is expected to reach 470 by the end of the year, he said.
Aristotelous also refereed to the issue of being granted access to Turkish military archives to obtain information about the fate of missing persons.
So far, Turkey has refused to comply. Aristotelous suggested that the request be better targeted to increase the chances of a positive result.
The outgoing member was appointed during the previous communist government.
A few months after taking office, President Nicos Anastasiades requested Aristotelous to step down, appointing former ambassador Theophilos Theophilou as his replacement.
Theophilou, who was the first representative of the Greek Cypriot community in the CMP when it was first set up in 1981, will be assuming his duties on September 1.
The CMP is composed of a member appointed by each of the two communities and a third member, selected by the International Committee of the Red Cross and appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Decisions are taken by consensus. The chair is rotated monthly.