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Memorial to ‘mothers of the missing’ unveiled

President Nicos Anastasiades on Thursday evening unveiled a statue dedicated to the mothers of missing persons from the 1963-64 troubles and the 1974 Turkish invasion.

The ceremony took place at the military cemetery and war memorial, known as Tymvos Makedonitissas, in Nicosia.

Also in attendance was Greece’s defence minister Panos Kammenos.

In his keynote address, Anastasiades relayed the state’s appreciation for the sacrifices made by combatants and their families.

“We continue to ask the international community to exert pressure on the occupying force [Turkey] so that the Turkish military allows access to its records for information on the whereabouts of the remains of still-missing persons.”

Built of volcanic material brought in from the Greek island of Santorini, the life-sized statue depicts the mother of a soldier missing in action.

Placed all around it are hundreds of small volcanic rocks, each inscribed with the name of the missing person.

The statue sits atop a specially constructed base that rotates every six hours to face the four cardinal directions – North, East, South and West. The rotation is intended to convey the idea that the mother is constantly scanning the horizon for her missing son.

On Friday, a memorial service for the fallen will be held also at the Tymvos cemetery, after which Anastasiades will be unveiling a replica of the Greek air force’s Noratlas plane that crashed nearby in July 1974.

The Tymvos memorial is located near the site where the Noratlas transport aircraft was brought down by friendly fire.

After the crash, 16 of the commandos, whose bodies were located in the area, were buried at Lakatamia military cemetery, in Nicosia suburb.

One commando, Thanasis Zafiriou, survived. He died in September 2016. The remaining commandos and crew were found inside the Noratlas plane when it was recently unearthed. Their remains were identified and returned to their families. Three commandos still remain missing.

The downed Noratlas and three other planes were taking part in a secret operation codenamed ‘Niki’ (Victory), transporting a battalion of Greek commandos from Crete to Cyprus, to help in the fighting raging at Nicosia International Airport.

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