The remains of seven Greek soldiers who lost their lives during the 1974 Turkish invasion were transferred to Greece on Thursday.

The handover ceremony took place in the presence of Greek Minister of Defence Nikolaos Hardalias.

Relatives of the soldiers travelled from to receive the remains of their loved ones as well as medals of honour.

The ceremony, held at old Larnaca airport, began with a blessing before the remains were loaded onto a C-130 aircraft headed for Greece.

The remains were transferred by plane for a proper burial in the places of their origin. Six of the soldiers were stationed in Eldyk, the Hellenic Force in Cyprus and were killed during battles in the summer of 1974. The seventh was in Noratlas, the military transport aircraft shot down in Nicosia.

Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou said the seven soldiers from Greece gave their lives for Cyprus and the Cypriot people are grateful to them and their relatives, many of whom are no longer alive and passed away without knowing the fate of their loved ones.

According to Photiou a total of 77 Greek citizens are included in the list of missing persons, of whom 47 are still unaccounted for.

Hardalias said their sacrifice proves the principles and virtues of Hellenism, adding that until the very end they remained focused and faithful to the military oath.

“I am here to receive my brother’s remains and take them back to Greece,” said Angeliki Karagouni, sister of reserve warrant officer Charalambos Karagounis, who was among the seven. “I am very moved, but also proud, that my brother is a hero”.

Karagouni said that the last time she saw her brother was when her family waved him off at Loutraki on July 5 1974, when she was 14 years old, and added that it was very painful not being able to share any celebrations or happy times with him.

She also said she was content with the fact her brother’s remains were found, but that she wished there were more. “I learned that the remains I’m getting show he was taken as a prisoner, abused and executed”.

“I feel proud to be taking my brother home to his birthplace,” she said.