An event to honour the Greek persons who went missing during the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus was held in Athens on Monday, during which participants were overwhelmed with emotions.
President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and his Greek counterpart Prokopis Pavlopoulos adressed the event, while present were Cypriot Defence Minister Christoforos Fokaidis, Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Issues Photis Photiou, Greek Interior Minister Panagiotis Kouroumblis, who represented the Greek Government, representatives of the Greek parties and a number of Greek parliamentarians, a representative of the Church, representatives of the leadership of the Greek and Cypriot armed forces, the Ambassador of Cyprus to Athens Kyriakos Kenevezos, representatives of Cypriot community organizations in Greece.
The President of Greek Committee of Missing Persons’ Relatives Maria Kalpourtzi, opening the event noted that for their loved ones who have falled heroically fighting in treacherous and unequal conditions and for those still missing, Cyprus is part of their homeland.
What gives to the relatives courage is the pride the feel knowing that their loved ones have gone missing defending a piece of their homeland and fulfilling their duty.
She stressed the need to solve the humanitarian issue of the missing persons and establish the fate of their love ones.
«We want answers and facts. We don’t search only for bones in small boxes,» she said.
Photiou noted adressing the event that «after 42 years, the wounds in the souls of relatives of missing persons have not yet healed». It is tragic that even today the fate of some 1.000 missing persons, including 67 Greeks, from 77 that were initially on record, remains unoknown, he said.
Turkey is the solely responsible for causing the tragedy and for the continuation of the problem, he added, reminding that it refuses to implement the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights for the Greek Cypriots and Greek missing persons and does not respect the resolutions of international organizations. It is Turkey and the occupying army that have destroyed mass burial sites and moved remains to unknown places, he said.
He pledged that the Republic of Cyprus will continue to do everything possible to fulfill its debt towards the missing persons and their relatives.
President Anastasiades awarded medals to the relatives of those killed and of missing persons.
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.
UN backed talks are underway with the aim to reunite the island under a federal roof.