With unity talks stalled, Cyprus will ask Council of Europe (CoE) to request Turkey provide access to military records showing the locations of mass graves from the 1974 invasion.
The Cyprus News Agency said that Cyprus, which chairs the CoE’s Committee of Ministers until May 2017, is to submit a memo on the issue and raise the question during a Dec. 6-8 meeting in Strasbourg, France.
That’s when the issue of the missing persons will be raised, officials said, with Cyprus wanted information on the relocation of remains as well, the Cyprus Mail said.
According to the government memo, “responsibility for effective investigation of the fate and disappearance conditions of all Greek Cypriot missing persons rests solely with Turkey, while the work of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) does not exempt Ankara from its responsibilities”.
The memo asks the CoE’s Committee of Ministers to call on Ankara to provide access to reports and military records as regards burial sites, the relocation of remains and the collection of bodies from battlefields and to let the missing persons committee enter Turkish military zones in the unlawfully occupied northern third of the island.
The memo stated that there were at least four cases of remains being exhumed and buried elsewhere in the north. The memo also includes data provided by the CMP on 988 cases of missing persons that had not yet been located or identified from the 1508 Greek Cypriots reported as missing.
“In essence, this means that Turkey is responsible for the fact that 65per cent of people who disappeared in 1974 are still missing,” the memo said.
The government also referred to the refusal of Turkey to inform the CMP on the locations where remains had been moved to, despite repeated appeals and various decisions of the CoE’s Committee of Ministers.
The CMP is a bi-communal body established in 1981 by the leaders of the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities with the participation of the United Nations.
Its objective is to recover, identify, and return to their families, the remains of 2001 persons – 493 Turkish Cypriots and 1,508 Greek Cypriots – who went missing during inter-communal strife in the 1960s and the 1974 Turkish invasion.
The CMP has so far identified the remains of 737 missing people – 553 Greek Cypriots and 184 Turkish Cypriots.