Presidency Commissioner submits proposal to Cabinet about G/Cs and Greeks who perished in 1974, CNA - Cyprus/NICOSIA 20/08/2019
Presidencial Commissioner Photis Photiou has told CNA that he will be putting forward a proposal before Cabinet on the establishment of an investigation, exhumation and identification of remains mechanisms for Greek Cypriots and Greeks who perished as a result of the Coup d’ Etat and the Turkish invasion of 1974 and are still buried in the Turkish occupied areas but are not considered to be missing persons.
Ιn a statement to Cyprus News Agency Photiou says that the government has always sought to settle any humanitarian problems created by the Turkish invasion and the continued occupation of Cyprus.
The goal is for affected families to have answers and closure with a dignified burial of the remains of their loved ones in line with our religion and traditions, he notes.
He further recalls that following requests by families the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) has exhumed and identified remains of Turkish Cypriots who were not lodged in CMPs official catalogue of missing persons.
The Presidency Commissioner notes that the Cabinet had decided to establish a full catalogue of Greek Cypriots and Greeks who died as a result of the Turkish invasion and the Coup d’ Etat in 2000 and that when the catalogue was drafted it was evident that over 500 cases concerned people who were buried in known or unknown locations in the occupied areas of the island.
These cases, he clarifies, were not included in the list of 1,493 missing persons, adding that from an initial CMP list of 1,619 another 126 cases had also been removed.
Those two categories of people who are categorized as having perished in 1974 are therefore approximately 700.
He also informs that since CMP has started its exhumation programme, he has received a great number of requests by families for the exhumation, identification and return of the remains of their loved ones. His office, he adds, has also received requests from families in Greece via the Embassy of Greece in Nicosia and Greek MPs
“Taking into consideration the humanitarian aspect of the problem and the needs and requests of families we felt that steps should be taken immediately at a technocratic level to deal with this humanitarian problem,” he stresses.
In this context, he informs, “a proposal for the establishment of an investigation, exhumation and identification mechanism for all those who perished and are buried in known and unknown locations in the occupied areas will be submitted to the Cabinet.”
The mechanism will fall within the political oversight of the Presidency Commissioner who will coordinate and organize the effort at political level.
Exhumations will be undertaken depending on political developments and the possibility of reaching agreement in the context of the United Nations Good Services, he points out.
Turkish troops invaded Cyprus on July 20, 1974, five days after the legal government of the late Archbishop Makarios III was toppled by a military coup, engineered by the military junta then ruling Greece. Turkey has ignored numerous UN resolutions calling for the withdrawal of the Turkish troops and respect of the integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus.
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 the remains of missing persons to their relatives.
Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The last round of negotiations, in the summer of 2017, at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.