Turkey has recently asked the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to request from the Republic of Cyprus to allow access to military zones to carry out excavations in search of missing persons, Photis Photiou Presidential Commissioner for Humanitarian Issues and Overseas Cypriots said on Saturday.
He was speaking at the funeral of Chrysanthos Theoti, who was missing since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, and parts of his remains were found in 2012 in an area in the Turkish occupied part of the island during excavations carried out by the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP).
Photiou noted that only two months ago Turkey decided, after more than 41 years, to allow the opening of so-called military zones in thirty sites to carry out excavations in search of missing persons, “hiding behind the Turkish Cypriot side, as if Turkey bears no responsibility, as if it does not maintain military forces in Cyprus and does not control the part of our country occupied” by its troops.
“Turkey rushed recently to appeal in writing to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe to ask the Greek Cypriot side, as it calls the Republic of Cyprus, to allow access to military zones under its control to search for missing persons,” Photiou said.
He noted that such an issue had never been reaised before and that there has never been any information in connection with missing Turkish Cypriots.
“On the contrary, reports for Greek Cypriots whose fate is unknown and have been buried in sites in military zones in the occupied areas, have existed for decades in many international documents, calling on Turkey to allow access for exhumation teams”.
The Presidential Commissioner said that Turkey must also allow access to Turkish military archives containing information on most of the cases of missing persons, if not all, indicate the location of mass graves and provide information for the deliberate transfer of remains from initial burial sites to other areas which remain unknown.
“Handing only some parts of the remains over to the relatives, after they are identified, is unacceptable. It is inhumane. A second crime against them,” Photiou noted.
He added that the Government will continue to undertake all necessary actions, making every effort to solve the problem of missing persons, noting that progress has been made in recent years, but most of the cases of missing Greek Cypriots remain uninvestigated.
Cyprus, an EU member state since 2004, has been divided since the Turkish invasion of the island in the summer of 1974. UN- led talks, aiming at reunifying the island under a federal roof, resumed in May last year.
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY