The Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) will look into classified and non-classified UN archives in New York with a view to collect information that could lead to the identification of burial sites of missing persons, the CMP Greek Cypriot member Nestoras Nestoros has told CNA.
Nestoros said that two competent officers, one from his office and one from the office of the Turkish Cypriot member of the Committee Gülden Plümer Küçük, will travel to New York from April 24 to May 5 to study UN non-classified archives to which they have access.
In parallel, he added, during the same period, the third member of the Committee Paul-Henri Arni will also be in New York to look into classified UN archives and collect any information relevant to missing persons in Cyprus and hand this over to the other members of the Committee. Nestoros said that the CMP third member, his aide and the CMP international research coordinator are the only persons who have access to the classified UN archives for the issue of missing persons in Cyprus.
He said that he and Küçük will visit New York at the beginning of May to examine non-classified UN archives and have meetings with officials about the issue of missing persons in Cyprus, on May 8-9.
Nestoros noted that the task is to inter-relate and write down any relevant information that may lead to possible burial sites of missing persons in Cyprus, adding that they will look into the UN archives after the “green light” was given to them by the international organization in October 2016.
He also said that recently the UN have been asked to become more engaged with a view to find any satellite images or areal photos for the periods which CMP investigation covers, which are 1963-67 and 1974 and afterwards.
Nestoros said that “through a special analysis of these images we are pursuing, taking into consideration available data as well, to locate new burial sites.”
Furthermore he noted that members of his office had a series of meetings with members of Küçük`s office during which they took decisions on concrete actions they will take for each case on the basis of available data.
He expressed the belief that this will help to manage better each one of the pending cases which are approximately 930 (750 Greek Cypriots and 180 Turkish Cypriots).
Nestoros underlined that “this is the first time since the beginning of the implementation of the CMP project that we can discuss each case based on a common reference point.”
He also said that the nine teams which are conducting excavations with a view to locate burial sites are now working in Assia, Mia Milia, Agios Dometios, Agia Irene, Vatili, Galatia, Agios Ilarionas, Ballapais and Athalassa.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. A Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) was established, upon agreement between the leaders of the island’s two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning the remains of missing persons to their relatives.
July 2007 marked a turning point of historical significance as the CMP began returning the first remains of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot individuals to their families.