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Turkey must undertake its responsibilities on the humanitarian issue of missing persons, Photiou says

File photo - President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci at the Anthropological Laboratory (CAL) of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP)

Turkey bears great responsibility as regards the humanitarian issue of missing persons in Cyprus, Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou said on Sunday.

In his speech at a memorial service for the people of Livadia, in the Larnaca district, who went missing or were killed during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974,  Photiou said that Turkey continues in a provocative manner to refuse cooperation as regards the issue of missing persons and poses obstacles to investigations and exhumations in its military zones, in the occupied areas.

Until today, he said, “Turkey has not handed over any information from the archives of the Turkish army that concern most of our missing persons.”

Turkey refuses to provide information for the relocation of remains from their original burial sites in an attempt to conceal its responsibilities for the crime of mass executions of Cypriot  prisoners of war, he said.

He added that the same applies for the massive burial sites where the Turkish army buried missing persons, killed at the battlefields.

“The truth can not be hidden. Turkey’s responsibilities are huge and Ankara should finally take action”, Photiou said.

One first step forward, he said, would be the immediate implementation of the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights regarding the Greek Cypriot missing persons.

Referring to the Conference on Cyprus that took place in Crans-Montana, Switzerland, between June 28 and July 7, Photiou said that unfortunately the Greek Cypriot side was faced with Turkey’s insistence on the continuation of its intervention rights in Cyprus, and the maintenance of a number of military troops, with the clear aim to expand and legalise its control over the entire island.

He said that this was the reason of failure to reach a solution to the Cyprus problem.

Photiou said that the Greek Cypriot side submitted proposals that met the concerns of the Turkish Cypriots and the Greek Cypriots alike, and which would lead to the establishment of a modern European state, free of any dependencies.

He pledged that the government is committed and willing to return to the negotiating table, despite its great disappointment over what has happened in Crans-Montana.

“Our side is ready, even tomorrow, to return to the negotiations, if Turkey abandons its unacceptable positions and proves this with actions and not just words for a solution of the Cyprus problem that will be consistent with the parameters set by the United Nations Secretary-General in Crans Montana and in line with the UN resolutions and decisions,” he said.

Cyprus has been divided by Turkish military troops since 1974, when Turkey invaded and  occupied 37 per cent of its territory.  A Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) was established, upon agreement between the leaders of the island’s two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning the remains of missing persons to their relatives.

According to the CMP, July 2007 marked a turning point of historical significance: the CMP began returning the first remains of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot individuals to their families.

So far, 801 missing persons from both communities have been identified and returned to the families for a dignified burial.

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