Minister of the Interior Socratis Hasikos pointed out on Sunday that “we have no right for a new failure in the effort to find a negotiated settlement in the Cyprus problem” and thus it was necessary for the Government to reaffirm the basis and methodology of talks for a solution and properly prepare for them.
He also said it was necessary for all interested parties, including Turkey, to become directly involved, and pointed out that the EU should have an upgraded role.
Speaking during a twinning ceremony of Katokopia community with Kantanos-Selinos municipality in Crete, Hasikos said the aim was a comprehensive settlement and that President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades had already taken initiatives in that direction.
The Minister also referred to the issue of missing persons in Cyprus, noting that it was “our duty to determine the fate of each and every one of our missing persons.”
He said the negative stance of the Turkish side was an obstacle in this direction and assured that the government of the Republic of Cyprus would continue to support the work of the Committee on Missing Persons, so that the human rights of all the families of missing persons are restored and the families are informed on the fate of their loved ones.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. As a result of the invasion, 1619 Greek-Cypriots were listed as missing, most of whom soldiers or reservists, who were captured in the battlefield.
Among them, however, were many civilians, women and children, arrested by the Turkish invasion troops and Turkish-Cypriot paramilitary groups, within the area controlled by the Turkish army after the end of hostilities and far away from the battlefield. Many of those missing were last seen alive in the hands of the Turkish military. A further 41 more cases of Greek Cypriot missing persons have been recently added. These cases concern the period between 1963-1964, when inter-communal fighting broke out but none of them has been identified yet.
The number of Turkish Cypriot missing since 1974 and 1963/64 stands at 503.
According to figures released in the summer by the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) the total number of identifications has risen to 407 from 337 at the end of 2012, of which 83% or 333 were Greek Cypriots and 17% which corresponds to 17 identifications were Turkish Cypriots.
Since the beginning of the identification programme in 2006, 900 exhumations have been carried out until April 2013, which represents 45% of the total missing persons from both communities. So far excavations have been carried out at 738 sites, of which 479 or 65% bore no result whereas remains were located in 259 burial sites. Since the recommencement of the CMP programme last August, 1.351 samples have been genetically analysed which is 50% more than the samples analysed in the past seven years.
Exhumations are carried out on both sides of the buffer zone by bi-communal teams (6 teams in the north and 2 teams in the south) made of over 55 Cypriot archaeologists and anthropologists. Bi-communal teams are now autonomous after having been trained by international experts from the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team (EAAF) during the first 18 months of the project.