We have done our utmost to determine the fate of the missing persons, says the President, CNA 22/02/2023
The Government has done its utmost to determine the fate of the missing persons, President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades said on Wednesday during a meeting with a delegation of the Pancyprian Organisation of the Relatives of Undeclared Prisoners and Missing Persons, at the Presidential Palace.
Speaking before the delegation, President Anastasiades expressed satisfaction for the close cooperation he had with the organisation in order to clarify one of the most important humanitarian issues of the 1974 Turkish invasion, apart from the loss of human lives.
He added that he personally, as well as together with the Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou, they undertook every possible action, raising the issue with the UN Secretary General and the EU, because, as he pointed out, this is not about politics or differences between states, but something that touches on human suffering and sensitivity.
"We have done our utmost and I wish as I leave the Presidency I could say today that it has finally been resolved so that you too can feel a sense of relief," he stressed in this regard.
President Anastasiades expressed his regret that even on this humanitarian issue, the Turkish side, despite promises and statements that more than 30 areas would be opened to investigate the fate of the missing persons, has failed to meet its commitments and promises, as in other issues related to the Cyprus problem.
For his part, the President of the Pancyprian Organisation of the Relatives of Undeclared Prisoners and Missing Persons Nicos Sergides expressed the organization's thanks to President Anastasiades for his efforts on the issue of the missing persons.
He noted that in recent years, a more optimistic note has emerged that the "wall of silence" built by the Turkish side on the issue of missing persons has begun to crack and expressed hope for better results.
He also expressed the hope that the new President of the Republic will want to continue with the same strength on the issue of the missing persons and will maintain this team, which, he said, in his 50 years of working on the issue of the missing persons, was the best team that has worked on this issue.
Chairperson of the Panhellenic Committee of Parents and Relatives of Undeclared Prisoners and Missing Persons of the Cyprus Tragedy Maria Kalmpourtzi said that the results during the decade of Nicos Anastasiades' administration were not negative, as there was a small progress despite Turkey's stance, adding that from the Cypriot government's side, everything humanly possible was done to determine the fate of the missing persons.
Kalmpourtzi also stressed the need to distinguish between the political and humanitarian aspects of the missing persons issue. She also thanked the Presidential Commissioner, with whom she said they formed a strong team that achieved results, and called on the new President of the Republic to keep Photiou in his position as, she stressed, 50 years later there is no room for steps backwards.
For his part, Photiou, after thanking President Anastasiades for the honour of choosing him for the position of Presidential Commissioner, as well as the members of the organisations for their cooperation, stressed that the President of the Republic raised the issue of the missing persons in all his meetings with foreign officials.
He also noted that progress had been made despite Turkey's denial, as evidenced by the 750 identifications carried out over the past decade, as well as 430 exhumations, which were made possible thanks to pressure on the international community through the President of the Republic, pressure on the occupying power to cooperate on some issues, and the work done at the investigation level within the investigative committee.
In conclusion, the President of the Republic assured all parties that he will never cease to be an active citizen and will remain particularly sensitive to a problem he has experienced and for which he has put all his efforts to feel that he has made contribution.
The meeting concluded with the presentation of a honour plaque by Nicos Sergides to President Anastasiades.
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.