Determining the fate of missing persons is a top priority for the government, President Nikos Christodoulides said on Saturday, highlighting this was a long-standing and painful topic for relatives of missing persons, as they continue to wait for news of the fate of their loved ones.

At a conference held at Neapolis University in Paphos marking Missing Persons Day, Christodoulides’ speech – read out by government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis – stressed the anguish and pain of the relatives of the missing persons.

He added Missing Persons’ Day, was established in 2010 as a “reminder of the most tragic and sensitive aspect of the Cypriot tragedy of 1974.”

The day is “an account of the extent of the crime committed by the Turkish forces against Cyprus” the president said.

Christodoulides added that “as a state, we call for an end to this unacceptable situation. We expect the United Nations, the European Union, and the world powers to put an end to the pain and suffering of the relatives of the missing. UN General Assembly Resolution 3450 of 1975 underlines the basic human need for families to be informed about their missing relatives.”

He went on to say that in 2001 the European Court of Human Rights ruling condemned Turkey, following the interstate application of Cyprus v. Turkey – the fourth in a row. It set the conditions for the Committee of Missing Persons, launched eventually in 2006, he stressed.

Today, of the 1510 Greek Cypriots missing, 767 remain missing, while of the 492 Turkish Cypriots, 199 remain missing, he added.

“Their families are stoically waiting and hoping. For these families, time does not heal. Only answers do. The answers to the fate of their loved ones, they are anxiously searching for the conclusion to the tragedy they have been experiencing for almost half a century” Christodoulides said.

“Determining the fate of the last missing person is a top priority for both the government and me personally,” he added.

Christodoulides also expressed the hope that a UN envoy “will be accepted by the Turkish side, a development that will pave the way for the resumption of substantive talks that will lead to the blessed day of the reunification of our country.”

He stressed the goal for the island is a solution “that will free Cyprus from anachronistic guarantees and occupying troops. A solution that will effectively end the occupation and enable all legitimate inhabitants of this land to peacefully coexist, with no division, under a regime of equal rights and equality.”

Last month, Christodoulides announced the government would be increasing its contribution to the CMP, regardless of what the Turkish side will decide to do. The decision aims to help intensify the CMP’s efforts with more staff and crews working in the excavations.