By Evie Andreou
Cyprus’ request to access the archives of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP) in the hopes it would shed more light over missing persons, has been granted 15 years after it was submitted, Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou said on Monday.
Speaking at the press conference to announce the 31st Love Marathon for the missing persons, Photiou said that following a meeting last week with the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča, “the decision has been taken, and procedures are underway to study the records of the UNFICYP”.
He added that he also received assurances that decisions would be taken over UN records in New York.
Photiou said the move followed pressure from the Republic and through the permanent members of the UN Security Council.
Greek Cypriot member of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) Nestoras Nestoros, expressed concerns over locating the missing persons as there is, he said, “lack of substantial and practical cooperation”.
According to Nestoros, there are in total 1,000 missing persons – 800 Greek Cypriots located in the north and 200 Turkish Cypriots, half located in the north and half, missing since the 1963-64 intercommunal troubles, in the government-controlled areas.
So far, 480 Greek Cypriots have been identified, Nestoros said, while there have been 53 cases involving archaeological remains, and 50 more where remains did not match with missing persons.
Commenting on the issue of information from the Turkish archives, for which a decision was taken by the Council of Europe in March, Nestoros said “it is idle” and that talks with the CMP are currently “at an impasse”.
Archbishop Chrysostomos said that “it would honour Turkey” if its army provided relevant information.
“How are we to solve the national issue if Ankara does not cooperate on this humanitarian issue,” the archbishop asked.
The Love Marathon, which focuses on the need for more information regarding the missing, will take place between April 18 and 24.
On Tuesday relatives of the missing will deliver memos to the embassies of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, and to an EU representative in Nicosia.
On Thursday a prayer is to be carried out at the Tomb of Makedonitissa in Nicosia in the presence of Archbishop Chrysostomos, while events will also take place in schools.
On Monday, the archbishop inaugurated an exhibition of engraved art pieces by Stelios Stylianou, called ‘Mnimes 1974’ (Memories 1974). The exhibition, held at the Archbishop Makarios III foundation in Nicosia, will be open to the public until May 18.
By Evie Andreou