Turkey has granted access to 30 `military areas` in occupied Cyprus, over a three-year period for excavations for missing persons, it was announced on Thursday by the members of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP) to representatives of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot political parties visiting the laboratories of the Committee.
In statements after the visit, the Greek Cypriot Member of CMP Nestoras Nestoros said this access will facilitate the work and the mission of the Committee. Replying to a question, Nestoros said that 9 of those 30 `military areas` are located in Voni village. Some others are located in occupied areas of Ayios Georgios village, Kontemenos, Famagusta and Nicosia.
Speaking after the meeting, Paul-Henri Arni, the representative of the United Nations to the CMP said that the representatives of the political parties were briefed on the complex process of locating, exhuming and identifying missing persons. In addition, he said, the CMP Members briefed them on the progress made and on the main challenges that the CMP is facing.
The Turkish Cypriot member of the Committee Gulden Plumer Kucuk said that today’s presence of representatives of political parties from both communities, serves as a reminder that the issue of missing persons in Cyprus affects all Cypriots and transcends political boundaries. “It is important to remember that the CMP is arguably the most successful bi-communal project in Cyprus, where nearly 80 Cypriot scientists and investigators have worked jointly for more than nine years”, she said.
Kucuk pointed out that the work of the CMP serves first of all the many bereaved families. In today’s briefing, she went on to say, the CMP reminded its guests that despite the excellent results achieved by in recent years, the remains of more than 1000 missing Cypriots have yet to be located. The CMP called for their help in working actively with their respective constituencies to help provide new information on burial sites. “We stressed that time is running out to obtain critical witness information”, she concluded.
Nestoros, in his statement said that the financial situation of the CMP, which depends, for the majority of its funding, on the generous contribution of the European Union, was also discussed during the meeting. CMP Members emphasized, as he noted, the need for both communities to increase their financial support in order to speed up the recovery, identification and return of missing persons across the island.
Finally, he thanked the party representatives for their visit and stressed that the Committee counts on their full support. He also thanked the Embassy of Slovakia and the European Union for facilitating this important occasion.
The Ambassador of Slovakia to Cyprus Oksana Tomova on behalf of the political parties conveyed their appreciation and the acknowledgment of the hard work of the committee.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. The fate of hundreds of people remains unknown. UN-led talks, aiming to reunite the island under a federal roof, resumed on May 15, this year.
The Committee on Missing Persons has been established, upon agreement between the leaders of the two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning the remains of missing persons to their relatives.
According to the Committee the total number of identifications has reached 614, of which 469 were Greek Cypriots and 145 were Turkish Cypriots.
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY