The issue of the missing persons which remains unresolved constitutes one of the most important open chapters of the 1974 tragedy, President of the House of Representatives Demetris Syllouris told a ceremony for the missing persons held at the Panorama of Missing Persons in Kornos.
“The concern of the Cypriot state is to safeguard and protect every family’s inalienable right to be informed and to know the fate of their loved ones based on facts and proof,” he said, noting however the passage of time is not conducive to our efforts.
He also noted that the limited number of witnesses, or their refusal to cooperate and construction activity in possible burial sites constitute additional obstacles to the whole effort.
“Irrespective of these, our struggle and hard work should continue with no sense of discouragement. This is our debt to history, to our island, to our dead, to our missing persons and their families,” he said.
Furthermore, Syllouris noted that Turkey should comply and assume its responsibilities respecting the decision of the European Court of Human Rights in Cyprus fourth interstate application.
Representing the President of the Republic, Minister of Defence Savvas Angelides, called on the UN and the international community “to exert the necessary pressure to the occupation force to grant access to their military records so the International Committee on the Missing Persons to conclude its search by carrying out excavations in military zones.”
Angelides noted raising the issue of the missing is top priority for the government in its contacts both with the Turkish Cypriot leadership and representatives of organisations and other countries.
Greek Minister of National Defence, Nikos Panayiotopoulos said that his monument depicts the brutality of the occupation and is reminiscent of the humanitarian crisis and untold pain caused by the Turkish invasion on Cyprus.
He vowed that the Greek National Defence Ministry in collaboration with the Cypriot Defence Ministry will continue the difficult effort for the location and identification of the missing persons.
This effort will be a top priority for me and the new Hellenic government because we acknowledge the struggle of all those that defended Hellenism, those who fell fighting for freedom and those who are still missing. Only in this way redemption and justice vindication will be achieved.”
On his part, Nicos Sergides, President of the Cypriot Missing Persons Organisation said the relatives of the missing have been striving for the fundamental right to know the truth about the fate of our loved ones.”
“After forty-five years we continue our humanitarian struggle for the fate of our loved ones. We fight against the inhumane stance Turkey continues to observe against a purely humanitarian issue,” he said.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. 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.