Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou said the role of the European Union on the missing persons` issue in Cyprus, can prove decisive and essential.

Photiou was speaking during a meeting he had on Thursday with the head of the European Commission Representation in Cyprus, Myrto Zambarta where he informed her of the difficulties and challenges faced by the enclaved, the missing persons’ issue as well as issues concerning overseas Cypriots and religious groups.

A press release said the discussion centred on the missing persons’ tragedy and the daily suffering that their families are undergoing. Photiou said the situation is tragic and immediate humanitarian initiatives need to be taken to benefit the families. These problems, he said, are numerous and complex. The Commissioner said that there is a dramatic decrease in locating remains during the exhumations and this results in fewer identifications.

During the meeting, Photiou said it is well known that without sincere and effective cooperation on the part of the occupation force, progress cannot be anticipated. Turkey, he added, should finally cooperate and point out the sites where the dead were buried after they were removed from the battlefields as well as the sites where remains were removed intentionally. We believe it is essential to open up the Turkish army’s archives and lift all obstacles and restrictions in exhumations and allow investigations in areas that have arbitrarily been named by the occupation army as military.

He added that “the role of the European Union, which is the main source of funding for the Committee on Missing Persons, can prove decisive and essential”.

Photiou said the EU has the ability to undertake humanitarian initiatives both inside and outside Cyprus, to achieve progress that will help end the suffering and anguish of families.

“We look forward to humanitarian initiatives undertaken as soon as possible by the EU”, he added.

He also conveyed the government’s gratitude for the help which the EU has provided in efforts to find a solution to the missing persons’ issue.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. 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 to their relatives the remains of 492 Turkish Cypriots and 1,510 Greek Cypriots, who went missing during the inter-communal fighting of 1963-1964 and in 1974.

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