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Cyprus President and Turkish Cypriot leader call for information on missing persons

President Nikos Christodoulides and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar called on all those who have information on the fate of the missing persons to provide it to the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus, after their joint visit to CMP’s anthropological laboratory.

Speaking on 28 July, the two leaders also praised the work of the Committee, which they described as very important, and expressed their common conviction that the work of the CMP, as a purely humanitarian issue, should remain unaffected by political processes.

In his statements after the meeting, President Christodoulides said that he was doing everything possible on the issue of the resumption of talks and expressed the hope that there would be more to be announced soon, "perhaps by the end of September."

On his part, Tatar reiterated his demand for "sovereign equality" recognition of the illegal regime in the Turkish-occupied areas before any talks process could proceed.

President Christodoulides responded to Tatar’s statement saying that he is very well aware of his position but he is not going to enter into any discussion regarding the resumption of the talks out of respect to the relatives of the missing.

“We are here for a purely humanitarian issue. We need first of all to respect the relatives of the missing persons, Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots. So I’m not going to enter in any discussion regarding the resumption of the talks. I’m doing whatever is possible, whatever is necessary and I hope that soon, by the end of September if this is possible, to have something to announce,” he said.

The President noted that all the relatives of the missing persons are expecting to see a positive outcome of this meeting and that they both sent today a message through their common statement and that himself is there “to send much more positive messages to the Cypriot people.”

President Christodoulides said that the CMP and the scientists are doing excellent work adding that their commitment is for both communities to work together to encourage more people to give information. “And I hope that it will be possible to meet again and let’s hope that through a new meeting we will have a positive outcome,” he said.

In other statements earlier, right after they met with the scientists the President said that Tatar is very sensitive about the issue having in mind that his father was a member of the CMP for 21 years. He said that they are there to send messages to Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots "to work together and to give us information."

“We need to speed up the excellent work that the CMP and the scientists are doing in order to finish with this issue," he noted adding that too many years have passed for the relatives. "I’m sure all of you understand the pain. So I’m here-and we discussed a bit with Ersin- to examine any other way in order to have more teams that the CMP can use in order to speed up the process on the humanitarian issue," President Christodoulides said. "It will enhance more our cooperation and will send also messages to the Cypriot people about the need to work together”, he added.

Asked if more excavations will be carried out,  the President said they told their members (in CMP) to consider some ideas that could speed up the process.

Replying to another question about a reconciliation committee, he said that this committee could be a way (forward). “I raised the issue before, we can examine the possibility, if it supports the excellent work of the CMP,” the President said.

President Christodoulides spoke about the financial aspect which is also very important.

“That’s why I mentioned before that they (the CMP) need to have more teams because it is a pity to have information but not have enough teams in order to proceed. So these issues are going to be discussed between our two members (in CMP) and I’m sure that they will have some suggestions that myself and Ersin are going to decide on,” he said.

The Turkish Cypriot leader said that they are here to express appreciation for the work the CMP and the scientists are doing here and expressed hope there will be further work to locate more remains in order to bring a relief to the families.

“We very much want to do our best so the pain of the families is reduced,” he said, adding that this is a humanitarian issue, "something that is outside of politics therefore whatever we can do to improve the discovery of missing persons is something that we owe to the families, we owe to humanity and we will do our best.”

Tatar said that they both encourage people who know about sites to come forward and give information.

Commenting on President Christodoulides’ statement about a possible new meeting he reiterated his position about "reaffirming our sovereign equality and equal international status." 

In other statements after they met with the scientists Tatar said that they are impressed with the progress of the science adding that they are doing an excellent job and hoped they can find more remains. He said that they were informed there are 42 cases of missing persons in the world and CMP, in world rankings, is one of the best. He said that this was an opportunity for him to thank all these people for their work “but as Nikos said we encourage people to share information, before they die.”

He said that his father was member of the CMP for 21 years and today he wanted to thank the Committee and the third person (from the UN) who met his father and this year is retiring.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Repeated rounds of UN-led peace talks have so far failed to yield results. The latest round of negotiations, in July 2017 at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana ended inconclusively.

Since 1974, 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 June 30, 2023, of 1510 Greek Cypriot missing persons 741 were identified and 769 are still missing. Out of 492 Turkish Cypriot missing persons 292 were identified and 200 are still missing.

(Source: CNA)

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