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Cyprus seeks Turkey co-operation over missing

File photo: CMP team at work searching for remains

Cyprus will ask the Council of Europe (CoE) to request from Turkey access to its military records regarding the location of mass graves in the north of the island.

According to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) the Republic of Cyprus, which chairs the CoE’s Committee of Ministers until May 2017, is to submit a memo on the issue, next week.

The Cyprus government aims to raise the matter at the meeting of the CoE’s Committee of Ministers, between December 6 and 8 in Strasbourg, where the issue of the missing will be discussed together with Ankara’s compliance with the relevant decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), CNA said. The government wants Turkey to give access to military records but also give information on the relocations of remains.

According to the government memo, “responsibility for effective investigation of the fate and disappearance conditions of all Greek Cypriot missing persons rests solely with Turkey, while the work of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) does not exempt Ankara from its responsibilities”.

The memo asks the CoE’s Committee of Ministers to call on Ankara to provide access to reports and military records as regards burial sites, the relocation of remains and the collection of bodies from battlefields.

It also calls on Ankara to allow the CMP entry to military zones in the north, and seeks assurances on the effective investigation of cases.

According to the memo, there were at least four cases of remains being exhumed and buried elsewhere in the north. The memo also includes data provided by the CMP on 988 cases of missing persons that had not yet been located or identified from the 1508 Greek Cypriots reported as missing.

“In essence, this means that Turkey is responsible for the fact that 65per cent of people who disappeared in 1974 are still missing,” the memo said.

The government also referred to the refusal of Turkey to inform the CMP on the locations where remains had been moved to, despite repeated appeals and various decisions of the CoE’s Committee of Ministers.

The rate of successful excavations was 46 per cent in 2007 whereas this year it had declined to 25 per cent, said the government, warning that this put “the work of the CMP serious risk.” Turkey needed to work at all levels and in all cases, to ensure the success of the excavations, the government concluded.

The CMP is a bi-communal body established in 1981 by the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities with the participation of the United Nations.

Its objective is to recover, identify, and return to their families, the remains of 2001 persons – 493 Turkish Cypriots and 1,508 Greek Cypriots – who went missing during inter-communal strife in the 1960s and the 1974 Turkish invasion.

The CMP has so far identified the remains of 737 missing people – 553 Greek Cypriots and 184 Turkish Cypriots.

 

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