The Christmas tree dedicated to the Missing symbolises Turkey’s responsibility for the ongoing tragedy of the relatives who have been waiting for almost five decades to learn what happened to their loved ones, presidency commissioner Photis Photiou said on Wednesday.

The commissioner, who deals humanitarian affairs, joined relatives of missing persons in decorating a Christmas tree, like each year, with photos of people who are still missing since 1974.

The tree was erected in the old Nicosia Town Hall’s courtyard, near Eleftheria square.

“We always get emotional during the decoration of the Christmas tree for the missing persons,” Photiou said.

The tree, he added, symbolises Turkey’s responsibility and “the powerful of the earth, the ongoing drama of relatives, many of whom have passed away feeling pain and agony and without any answers to the questions about their loved ones, but also our unfulfilled duty to ascertain the fate of all our missing.”

After 47 years, Turkey, continues to refuse to cooperate with sincerity and good will to finally solve the issue, Photiou said. He added this was a purely humanitarian issue and called on Turkey to “finally respond positively” to the calls to allow unrestricted excavations in the north, to provide clear answers to the deliberate and violent relocation of remains of missing persons from the original burial sites and to allow researchers access to the files of the Turkish army. This is required by the international conventions Turkey itself has signed, he said.

The decoration of the tree was organised by the Pancyprian organisation of relatives of undeclared prisoners of war and missing persons, Photiou’s office, and the RadioMarathon charity walkers volunteer group, under the auspices of the Nicosia mayor.