Cypriot leaders call for information on missing

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Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot leaders made a symbolic joint visit to the Committee on Missing Persons anthropological lab to urge people to come forward with information about mass graves.

President Nikos Christodoulides and Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar visited the CMP lab in Nicosia in a move to build trust and confidence.

“Both leaders called upon persons who have information about possible burial sites to share this information with the CMP.

“They reminded witnesses they can request confidentiality for any information shared, as credible information can accelerate the whole process of location, exhumation and identification of remains of missing persons,” said a UN statement afterwards.

It said the leaders of the two communities expressed their full support for the effective work of the UN-sponsored Committee.

The leaders highlighted “the need to unceasingly continue with efforts to locate and identify all missing persons.”

There was “acknowledgement and appreciation for the work carried out by the Committee members, the anthropological laboratory personnel and all the staff involved.”

“The two leaders reaffirmed their mutual understanding that CMP’s responsibility lies first and foremost with the families of missing persons, as it brings closure to the affected families through the return of the remains of their loved ones for proper burial in accordance with their own religious traditions and practices,” the UN said.

President Christodoulides said missing persons “is one of the best confidence-building measures…as further cooperation in this area will also help in the effort to break the deadlock and resume talks.”

He added: “We need to speed up the excellent work that the CMP and the scientists are doing.

“I’m sure all of you understand the pain.”

Tatar told reporters: “We very much want to do our best so the pain of the families is reduced.”

“It is 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.”

He said his father was a member of the CMP for 21 years.

Brussels said the EU Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot community “continues to provide assistance to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus …the European Commission is proud to extend substantial support to the CMP.”

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 the CMP, of 1510 Greek Cypriot missing, 741 were identified, and 769 are still missing.

Of 492 Turkish Cypriot missing, 292 were identified, and 200 are still missing.