Turkey has received a clear message from Europe, that its substantive involvement in the Cyprus issue, on the agreed basis, will act as a catalyst for developments in the EU-Turkish affairs, President of the Republic, Nikos Christodoulides, said on Friday.

The President was speaking at a memorial service on the occasion of the 39th Marathon of Love for the Missing Persons, at the Makedonitissa Tomb, in Nicosia, which is organised by the Pancyprian Organisation of the Relatives of Undeclared Prisoners and Missing Persons.

President Christodoulides said that the substantive interconnection of Turkey’s European course with the developments in the Cyprus problem, based on the recent European Council Conclusions is an important development.

“It was something that the government had sought from the beginning,” he said, noting that in the EC Conclusions “Turkey received a clear message from Europe, that its substantial involvement in the Cyprus issue, always on the agreed basis, will act as a catalyst for developments in EU-Turkey affairs”.

President Christodoulides talked about the efforts to solve the humanitarian issue of the missing persons, underlining that “it is primarily a humanitarian issue and we approach it only as such”.

He referred to the meeting that was held following the initiative of the government with the Turkish Cypriot leader exclusively on the issue of the missing persons, and expressed the hope that there will be a follow-up.

He spoke about the difference in the way of receiving information about the fate of the missing, noting that the goal is to encourage as much information as possible, by creating a more friendly and trusting environment for witnesses.

“The results were positive, since in a short period of time we had several new identifications,” he said, adding that among them was the identification of the remains of six Greek soldiers of ELDYK force.

“This year, more than ever, we must be united and stress towards every direction that the passage of 50 years does not alter in any way the effects of the barbaric Turkish invasion: Turkey’s violation of fundamental human rights and its intransigence to resume of the dialogue with the sole aim of resolving the Cyprus issue, based on the agreed framework”, President Christodoulides underlined.

We must continue our struggle, he said, in a more coordinated, persistent and targeted manner, for the reunification of Cyprus, for reaching  a viable and functional solution, “for a Cyprus free from occupying troops and anachronistic guarantees, for a solution based on the resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and the principles and values of the European Union”.

He noted that while after persistent efforts more information is coming to light about the missing persons, there still remains a long list of unsolved cases.

The President assured that the efforts to ascertain the fate of each of the missing will not cease.

He said that the Greek Cypriot side has the political will and is continuing its efforts. 

The President noted that now “it is up to the Turkish side – and we are working in this direction through the international community – to change its attitude and cooperate” in order to give an end to this humanitarian issue, and end the suffering of the relatives of the missing persons.

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.

According to statistical data published on the CMP website by August 1, 2022 out of 2002 missing persons 1,185 were exhumed and 1,027 were identified. Out of 1510 Greek Cypriot missing persons 735 were identified and 775 are still missing. Out of 492 Turkish Cypriot missing persons 292 were identified and 200 are still missing.

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