By Constantinos Psyllides
WHILE URGING the public to give information on the burial sites and whereabouts of missing persons is a step forward, the Turkish army must release its archives for real progress to be made, executive secretary of the Missing Persons Committee Nicos Theodosiou said on Saturday.
In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, Theodosiou welcomed the joint statement by the two leaders this week urging those with any information to come forward.
“It is extremely important that the two leaders made a common plea. Giving priority to resolving the missing persons issue sets the problem on a correct basis. But what we really need is to be consistent on the matter and keep pushing for its resolution. We also need to be more specific,” he said, adding that he expects President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci to proceed with more practical measures.
Theodosiou claimed that is a common knowledge that the Turkish armed forces in Cyprus have records regarding the fate of those persons missing from the 1974 invasion.
“Nobody is asking the Turkish army to grant access to its records to anyone. What we are asking is that they task their own officers with going through the records and provide information about possible burial sites or anything else related to the subject that will facilitate the work of the Committee of Missing Persons in Cyprus,” he said, pointing out that this depends solely on Turkey.
“The Turkish army controls all military zones so if they decide to lend a hand we will make significant progress in a short period of time,” said Theodosiou.
He said the relatives of the missing persons were fighting a losing battle with time.
“Forty-one years have passed and more and more relatives leave this life without knowing what happened to their loved ones. Time is working against us. The landscape in the occupied areas is changing, memories fade and witnesses that could give information die,” he said.
Theodosiou said that he was certain that some Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots witnessed events which they have not yet spoken about.
“It is paramount that anyone who knows anything about anyone comes forward and gives information. We need specific information because we have enough vague ones.”
Theodosiou stressed that anyone who provides information receives blanket immunity and is safe from persecution.
“Hundreds of people have given information and this helped families locate the remains of their loved ones in both communities.”