President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades vowed to continue the struggle to determine the fate of missing persons in Cyprus for “as long as it takes.” The pledge, posted on his personal twitter account, comes as Cyprus marked Missing Persons Day.
“We remember and honor our beloved ones. With responsibility and faith, we stand next to the families of our missing persons and promise to continue the struggle to determine the fate of every one of them, for as long as it takes” the President noted.
On Tuesday the Greek Cypriot member of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) Leonidas Pantelides addressed the House Committee on Refugees, referring to the difficulties the CMP is facing while carrying out its task.
Out of 30 permits given at the end of June to conduct excavations in “military zones” in the northern, Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus, only one visit was made possible in the fenced-off part of Famagusta, just last week, the Greek Cypriot member said.
“We don’t give up,” Pantelides told the House Committee, on the occasion of the Day for Missing Persons.
He also noted that this year, 24 human remains have been discovered and await their identification. In total, 695 Greek Cypriot missing persons have been identified, but the remains found correspond to a total of 1,000 people. At the same time, 265 Turkish Cypriot missing persons have been identified, he added.
From his part, Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou said that relatives of missing persons die without having the chance to bury their beloved ones properly and noted that these people should be treated with respect.
He assured that the Foreign Ministry, the Foreign Minister and the President of Cyprus exert every effort on the issue of missing persons, bringing the subject up during meetings with foreign leaders, while the President discusses the subject first when meeting with Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci.
In a statement issued to mark Missing Persons of Cyprus Remembrance Day, AKEL said, “the drama of the missing persons is a constant reminder of the invasion and occupation, of the chauvinist crimes committed against the Cypriot people as a whole. It is also a constant reminder of the magnitude of the treachery committed against our homeland.
“The ongoing refusal of Turkey and the occupying army to truly co-operate in the effort to verify the fate of the missing persons is the first and main reason for the stagnation observed on the matter. If Turkey opens up its archives then it will be possible in a short period of time to proceed to the identification of the overwhelming majority of our missing persons. At the same time, the passage of time objectively increases obstacles and difficulties.”
The statement continues, “AKEL supports the efforts to determine the fate of all the missing persons, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. This is a humanitarian duty and moral obligation towards the families of all Cypriots who have lost the trace of their beloved ones, for answers to be given on the case of each and every missing person.
“AKEL will continue to raise the issue of the Missing Persons in Cyprus, Europe and beyond more widely. It will continue to work in the European Parliament for the financial support provided towards the work of the Committee of Missing Persons to continue, for the appointment again of a European Parliament Special Rapporteur on the Missing Persons of Cyprus and for substantial international pressure to be exerted on the occupying power.”
The statement concludes, “The need to turn a page in History and move forward passes through the truth about all the tragic cases of the missing persons in Cyprus, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. This will make a huge contribution to the efforts for the reconciliation of the two communities, so we can move forward to the future, with knowledge and an awareness of the past.”