Relatives of the missing persons in Cyprus have called upon the Turkish army to give all information it holds regarding the fate of their beloved ones.

In statements to CNA, Executive Secretary of the Pancyprian Organisation of the Relatives of Undeclared Prisoners and Missing Persons, Nicos Theodosiou, said that if the Turkish army decides to provide the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) with the information it holds, then there will be major progress in a short time and pointed out that time is important for the relatives of the missing.

Referring to the joint appeal made Thursday by the leaders of the two communities in Cyprus (President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci) who called on “anyone who might possess information on possible burial sites of missing persons to share this information with the CMP without hesitation”, Theodosiou said that this appeal was a first positive step, but noted that the leaders should be more concrete.

“The appeal of the two leaders is very significant since it places this humanitarian issue on its proper basis, which is an issue of priority. But what is of importance is which practical steps we take to solve the problem of information”, he said.

Theodosiou stressed that  it would be important that the two leaders made “an appeal  for exploiting the information – which exists in archives, particularly the archives of the Turkish army”.

If the Turkish side, which exercises control over the military zones in Cyprus, decides to be more cooperative, “then we will see great progress in very short time”, Theodosiou said.

He pointed out that time is very important for the relatives of the missing, who 41 years after the disappearance of their beloved ones, have still no information about them.

“Forty-one years have passed and most of the parents of the missing persons are gone, husbands and wives also begin to pass away, as do brothers and sisters of the missing. You understand that we give an unequal battle with time”, he told CNA.

He also referred to a new problem which occurred the past year, regarding the relocation of bones of the remains of the missing, noting that this is made deliberately.  He added that the Turkish army should give the information it has about the sites of reburial.

As a result of the 1974 Turkish invasion against Cyprus, 1,619 Greek Cypriots were listed as missing, most of whom soldiers or reservists, who were captured in 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 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 stood at 503. A total of 1073 remains have been exhumed by the CMP, 546 of which have been identified with the DNA method (421 Greek Cypriots and 125 Turkish Cypriots).

Only 27% of all missing persons have been identified so far.

The Republic of Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded. It still occupies 37% of this EU Mediterranean country, despite repeated calls by international and European organizations to withdraw its troops from the island.

UN led Cyprus talks resumed this month. They were interrupted by the Greek Cypriot side due to Turkey`s violation of Cyprus` Exclusive Economic Zone.

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