The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (CoE) asked Turkey to ensure that the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) has unhindered access to military zones and archives on burial sites in the northern, Turkish-occupied part of the island.
In a decision issued Thursday, following the Committee’s three-day session for the supervision of the execution of the European Court’s judgments, the Deputies of the 47 member states reiterated that due to the passage of time, it remains urgent for the Turkish authorities to sustain their proactive approach to providing the CMP with all necessary assistance to continue to achieve tangible results as quickly as possible.
In this respect they called upon the Turkish authorities to ensure that the CMP has unhindered access to all possible military zones located in the northern part of Cyprus and to provide the CMP “proprio motu” with any information from the relevant archives, including military archives, in their possession on burial sites and any other places where remains might be found.
The Committee of Ministers also noted with interest the information submitted by the Turkish authorities that the CMP will excavate in eight additional military areas in 2018 and on the ongoing work of the “archives committee” established by the Turkish side to examine the relevant archives for the information requested by the CMP on the location of remains.
Moreover, the Committee took note with interest that the CMP has identified a third missing person from the “Varnava versus Turkey” case, Savvas Apostolides, and that the “Missing Persons Unit” or “MPU” – which the “police” operates in the Turkish-occupied part of the island – has initiated an investigation in respect of this person and that the investigation concerning Andreas Varnava is nearing completion.
Deputies reiterated their call to the Turkish authorities to ensure the effectiveness of “MPU” investigations, as well as their rapid finalisation, and invited the Turkish authorities to continue to transmit to the Committee of Ministers information on the progress of the investigations and the conclusions of the final reports, in particular in the cases relating to Savvas Apostolides and Andreas Varnava.
They also noted further the information given by the Turkish authorities about the additional resources made available to the “MPU” and asked them to provide more details in this respect in time for the next examination of this issue.
The Committee of Ministers insisted again firmly on the unconditional obligation to pay the just satisfaction awarded by the European Court in the judgment of 12 May 2014 without further delay and decided to resume consideration of the issue of missing persons at their March 2019 meeting.
In a separate decision, the Permanent Representatives decided to resume consideration of the “Xenides-Arestis” group of cases, concerning Turkish-occupied properties, at their next meeting in September 2018.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.