The solution of the humanitarian issue of missing persons is a top priority, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades has said in a written statement on the Day of the Missing Persons, calling on Turkey to contribute actively to the work of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP).

The humanitarian issue of missing persons in Cyprus is “one of the most painful chapters in the history of Cyprus and its solution is for all of us a top priority” the President said on Saturday.

“We support and we will continue to support, in all possible ways, the work of the CMP and make every effort to see that it is effective. Unfortunately, a very large number of Greek Cypriots are still missing since the 1974 Turkish invasion and the period between 1963 and `67” he noted.

Anastasiades pointed out that time remains the worst enemy in efforts to investigate and establish the fate of missing persons and he reiterated his appealed to people who can give information on possible burial sites of missing persons to share it with the CMP without hesitation.

“At the same time, I want to make it clear that the problem of missing persons cannot be resolved without Turkey`s effective and efficient cooperation. I repeat that in order for the excavation programme and exhumations to progress, Turkey should contribute actively to the work of the CMP and provide the necessary assistance to achieve results,” the President said in his statement.

Ankara, he added, must help locate mass burial sites by providing information and data from the archives of the Turkish military, but also information concerning the deliberate removal of bones from initial burial sites.

The President noted that “hopefully Turkey will respond to our goodwill, realizing that a solution to the Cyprus problem will be to the benefit of all”.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern part. UN brokered peace talks resumed in May 2015 aiming to reunite the island under a federal roof.

According to the CMP, 1508 Greek Cypriots and 493 Turkish Cypriots went missing and so far 699 missing persons from both communities have been identified and returned to their families for a dignified buria

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