The government will step up its efforts to regain the people’s trust and attribute soon responsibility for last Monday’s fatal blast at the Naval Base “Evaggelos Florakis”, President of the Republic Demetris Christofias has stressed.
President Christofias, who was addressing a rally in honour of missing persons in Cyprus, at the village of Pyrga in Larnaca, said that “unfortunately today’s rally takes place in the shadow of the mourning caused by the tragic event at Mari last Monday”, in which 13 persons were killed.
Today, he said, “our thoughts go out to our compatriots and their families and we bow to their sacrifice.”
The government, said the President, “will step up its efforts” to regain the trust and the support of the Cypriot citizen.
He said that “responsibilities, wherever they may lay, must be attributed in a short period of time”, adding that “all together we must face the difficult consequences of this terrible blast”.
“We must create, all together, the conditions which will not allow for a repetition of similar incidents”, he pointed out.
Referring to the efforts for the resolution of the Cyprus issue, President Christofias said the government’s efforts focus “on a mutually acceptable solution, which under the circumstances will be just, viable and functional, which will reverse the fait accompli and truly reunite our country on the basis of a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation, with political equality between the two communities, as provided by the relevant UN Security Council resolutions”.
The solution, he added, will provide for a single state with a single international personality and a single nationality.
The Cyprus President said that “this agreed basis for a solution remains our guiding principle”, adding that the government will exhaust all its strength to achieve it within the framework of the ongoing UN-led negotiations procedure.
It is, he noted, a Cypriot owned and Cypriot led process which will lead to an agreed solution and this was also agreed between the leaders of the two communities and the UN Secretary General before peace talks commenced in September 2008.
The Greek Cypriot side, he said, remains committed to this basis for a solution and to this process, which has not been adversely affected but on the contrary it has been reaffirmed by the UN itself during the recent meeting the President and the Turkish Cypriot leader had with the UN Secretary General in Geneva earlier this month.
President Christofias called on the Turkish Cypriot side to “respect this agreed basis as it is provided for in UN Security Council Resolution 1251 as well as in the constant calls of the UN General Secretary during all three meetings the leaders of the two communities have had with him”.
Referring to the ongoing identification process of remains of missing persons, he said that the government has fought and will always fight with all its strength, helping in any possible way in order to accelerate the process.
President Christofias said he knows and understands their demand for a faster pace, adding that the government will aim and push towards that direction.
At the same time, he underlined that one may not speak of complete resolution of this humanitarian issue when no individual investigation into the fate of each missing person has been carried out, something which – as he noted – is provided for by all international bodies which specialize in human rights and is made clear in a European Court of Human Rights judgment on the matter.
“We will continue to fight to ensure that Turkey fulfills its obligations, allows exhumations in military zones and provide information available in its military archives in order to proceed and fully discover what has happened to our missing persons”, the President stressed.
President Christofias further noted that “the government shows the necessary sensitivity and determination to help the exhumation process”, pointing out that “this position concerns both Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot missing persons”.
“If we wish to reunite this place, we must understand that the loss of loved ones touches all of us without distinction,” he concluded.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. As a result of the invasion, 1619 Greek-Cypriots were listed as missing, most of whom soldiers or reservists, who were captured in the battlefield.
Among them, however, were many civilians, women and children, arrested by the Turkish invasion troops and Turkish-Cypriot paramilitary groups, within the area controlled by the Turkish army after the end of hostilities and far away from the battlefield. Many of those missing were last seen alive in the hands of the Turkish military. A further 41 more cases of Greek Cypriot missing persons have been recently added. These cases concern the period between 1963-1964, when inter-communal fighting broke out but none of them has been identified yet.
The number of Turkish Cypriot missing since 1974 and 1963/64 stands at 503.
According to figures released, 270 families from both communities have been notified about the discovery and identification of the remains of their loved ones. By early November 2010, a total of 263 remains, 209 belonging to Greek Cypriots and 54 to Turkish Cypriots have been unearthed and identified since 2007.
In his latest report on the UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus, the UN Secretary General reported that “complete access to military areas in the north for the purposes of exhumations remains crucial. I urge the Turkish Forces to adopt a more forthcoming approach, given the humanitarian dimension of the issue“.
On 10th of May 2001, the European Court of Human Rights found Turkey guilty of human rights violations in Cyprus.
The case was brought before the Court by the Cyprus government, which argued that the 27-year-old Turkish occupation of the northern part of the island violated most of the rights enshrined in the European Human Rights Convention