The remains of at least 8 fallen or missing persons from Greece, who died during the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, will be repatriated in the first week of December, Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou has said.
On Tuesday, Photiou chaired a meeting at the Presidential Palace to coordinate all services involved in the repatriation process. Representatives from the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign Ministry, the National Guard General Staff, the Hellenic Force in Cyprus (ELDYK), the Embassy of Greece in Cyprus, the police, the civil aviation, as well as from the Committee on Missing Persons and the organisation of relatives attended the meeting. Photiou has already visited Athens to discuss the matter with the Greek Deputy Minister of National Defence.
Replying to questions by CNA, Photiou said that the meeting took stock of 19 cases of missing and fallen persons, exhumed by the CMP and the program of the Republic of Cyprus, respectively. Two of the families have stated that they wish to burry their beloved ones in a military cemetery in Nicosia, while 8 more families want to bring the remains of their relatives to back to Greece.
Efforts are ongoing to contact the rest of the families through the Greek Ministry of National Defence, Photiou added, saying that the final number may eventually rise to 10-12 cases.
A ceremony to send off the remains will take place in the first week of December, as was the case with similar instances in the past, Photiou said. A religious ceremony will take place in the church of Holy Wisdom, in Nicosia before ELDYK members receive the remains to bring fly them back to Greece with a C-130 military aircraft. Relatives from Greece will attend the ceremony in Cyprus and will then accompany the remains of their beloved ones on their journey back home.
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.