Greece has denounced Turkish attempts to shift responsibility with regard to the humanitarian issue of missing persons to Athens and Nicosia, pointing out that it is Turkey which invaded and continues to occupy Cyprus’ northern part.


When it comes to missing persons, the respondent state is neither Cyprus, nor Greece but Turkey, says the Greek government, in a memorandum circulated to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE).


Athens expresses concern with regard to Ankara`s attempt “to shift liability and responsibility”.


The document published on February 16 comes as a reply to a previous Turkish document, issued last month, ahead of a discussion in Strasbourg, on March 8-10, on the subject of missing persons in Cyprus.


Among other things, the Turkish document was calling on Cyprus and Greece to immediately investigate cases of missing persons, while asking for permission to be given to the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) for exhumation in military areas located in the southern government controlled areas of the Republic of Cyprus.


The response, circulated by the Permanent Representation of Greece to the CoE, points out that “Greece is obviously not a respondent state in the cases under examination” since both “Cyprus vs Turkey” and “Varnava vs Turkey” are cases that “relate to the situation that has existed in the occupied part of Cyprus since July and August 1974”.


“In these cases, however, the respondent state is neither Cyprus, nor Greece but Turkey, which is purportedly legally committed to abide by article 46 of the European Convention of Human Rights that provides for the full implementation of the Court`s judgments by a respondent State” the document says.


Athens also underlines that the main reason there is limited progress in Cyprus lies with the respondent state`s failure to implement the Court`s judgments.


The Greek delegation expresses, moreover, concern over Turkey`s attempt to shift responsibility to the Turkish Cypriot community, on the one hand and to Cyprus and Greece on the other.


On the first point, Athens notes that the document drafted in Turkish-occupied Nicosia makes extensive references to a so-called “Turkish side”, when the European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly stressed Turkey`s sole accountability.


With regard to Turkish references on the obligations of Cyprus and Greece, Athens replies that “Greece did not invade and does not illegally occupied Cyprus for the past 42 years”.


The Greek government notes finally that overall progress regarding missing persons depends on Turkey`s sincere will to adopt a proactive approach and urges once again Ankara to reconsider its refusal to pay the just satisfaction awarded by the ECHR.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Since then, the fate of hundreds of people remains unknown.


A Committee on Missing Persons has been established, upon agreement between the leaders of the two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning the remains of missing persons to their relatives.


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