NICOSIA – The Greek Cypriot member of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) Theophilos Theophilou has expressed certainty that the full investigation and determination of the fate of all missing persons would have a positive effect on efforts for the rapprochement and reconciliation of the two communities in Cyprus.
In statements on Saturday, Theophilou said it would also have a positive impact on efforts to solve the Cyprus problem and would facilitate the implementation of a solution.
Theophilou noted that the issue of missing persons was an open wound on a personal level for the families of the missing persons and for the Cypriot society.
Speaking after a meeting with leftwing AKEL party, Theophilou said he believed he should inform the political parties on the current situation, the problems and difficulties faced, and the support needed to contribute more effectively and speedily to resolving the issue.
Referring to the CMP`s priorities, Theophilou said the first was to proceed without further delay with excavations and the exhumation of remains for DNA identification, and the second to financially strengthen the CMP and increase its budget significantly, since the scientific identification process was costly.
Theophilou said that in 2013 a total of 140 remains of missing persons were identified, a record number since the CMP was set up.
However, he pointed out that if the number of identifications did not rise, it would take another eleven years to identify the remaining 1,600 missing persons, noting that eleven years added to the forty that have passed since the 1974 Turkish invasion and the fifty years since the 1964 strife was unacceptable for the relatives.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third.
As a result of the invasion, 1,619 Greek Cypriots were listed as missing, most of whom soldiers or reservists, who were captured in the battlefield. A further 41 more cases of Greek Cypriot missing persons concern the period between 1963-1964, when inter-communal fighting broke out but none of them has been identified yet. The number of Turkish Cypriot missing since 1974 and 1963/64 stands at 503.
According to the latest information from the CMP, made available in mid December last year, there are currently 271 burial sites on the excavation list, nine of which allegedly contain more than 20 remains each. The CMP has 200 sets of human remains stored in its laboratory, waiting for identification.
The total number of persons identified since 2007 stands at 469.