President Nicos Anastasiades on Wednesday appointed Nicos Theodosiou as the interim Greek Cypriot member of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) to replace Nestoras Nestoros whose five-year stint ended on Tuesday.
Nestoros, who was appointed as the representative of the Greek Cypriot community at CMP in 2014, announced on Tuesday he was no longer part of the committee. He was reportedly informed by Anastasiades in a letter that his contract would not be renewed.
He told media outlets on Tuesday he did not know why his contract was not renewed and that he had asked in writing to meet with Anastasiades and the foreign minister months ago without response.
Government spokesman, Prodromos Prodromou, told Alithia that Nestoros was exercising his duties at the CMP on unpaid leave of absence from the state Land Development Corporation (KOAG) which was renewed annually but the maximum period he could do so was five years. Since the five years had passed, he had to return to his duties at KOAG, Prodromou said.
The Presidency announced on Wednesday that Anastasiades, after the completion of Nestoros’ service, appointed Theodosiou as interim representative of the Greek Cypriot community at the CMP.
“The president wishes to express his warm thanks to Mr Nestoros for his services to the CMP and for what he has offered to the major humanitarian issue of the missing persons,” the announcement said.
Theodosiou has been an associate at the office of the Greek Cypriot representative of the CMP since 2015, and was chairman of the organisation of Pancyprian Organisation of the Relatives of Undeclared Prisoners and Missing Persons between 1994 and 2012. He was the head of the same organisation between 2012 and 2015.
Politis reported that Nestoros, who spoke to the daily, did not conceal his discontent with the way he was informed of the termination of his service.
Anastasiades’ letter to Nestoros, the daily said, shows that the presidency took into consideration the increasing climate of discontent within and outside the CMP due to the poor results of the last few years. Last year the remains of only 14 people were discovered, and 47 in 2017, a plunge from the 155 found in 2015.
The CMP put this down to lack of information from eyewitnesses while the government has also complained that Turkey does not grant access to military zones and to information from archives such as the military’s on burial sites and places of possible relocation of remains.
Turkish Cypriot CMP member Gulden Plumer Kucuk said on Wednesday that Nestoros’ departure could affect negatively the awareness campaign the committee will launch next month on encouraging those possessing information that could locate missing persons to come forward, since it is still at the planning stage.
Speaking to media in the north, Kucuk said that she was not aware of the reasons why Nestoros’ contract was not renewed.
On whether this was due to the small number of remains located, Kucuk said that it was expected that after so many years the numbers of remains uncovered would decrease. She added that the CMP foresaw that and attempted to counter this by using new scientific approaches and strategies.
“As a result, we located within the first trimester of 2019, despite heavy rainfall, the remains of 13 persons in all our excavations,” she said, adding that this was proof the measures taken by the CMP were in the right direction.
Politis also said that the Commissioner on Humanitarian Issues, Photis Photiou, and Nestoros had disagreed in public last September when the former said the CMP was removing names from the list on missing persons based on incomplete findings such as fragments of remains. Nestoros had replied that he had a moral obligation to inform the relatives of the missing persons about the course of investigations concerning the identification of the remains of their relatives.
Photiou also spoke several times of the risk of terminating CMP operations since the success rate both of excavations and in finding remains had dropped.
But another issue is the competitiveness between the CMP’s Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides on the validity of information provided by each side on the missing of the other side, Politis said. Citing sources, the daily said that lack of quality information on missing persons is causing tension within the CMP.