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Politics

Turkish-Cypriot Leader Says Missing Persons Campaign Exploited

NICOSIA — Further distancing himself from any attempt at reunification or reconciliation some 47 years after an unlawful Turkish invasion split Cyprus, Turkish-Cypriot hardline leader Ersin Tatar said Greek-Cypriots are using missing persons as propaganda against Turkey.

Tatar, who was narrowly elected in October, 2020 with the aid of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodgan, had said he won't discuss anything other than his demand the world recognize the isolated northern third. 

Now he told Turkey's pro-government newspaper The Daily Sabah, which is a mouthpiece for Erdogan, that a commission set up for Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots to resolve the hurt of missing persons and identify remains is being misused.

"Greek Cypriot Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou and Greek Cypriot politicians continue to exploit this issue, which causes deep wounds between the two peoples, and to cast a shadow over the ongoing studies by making the issue of missing persons, which is essentially a very sensitive humanitarian issue, propaganda material against Turkey," Tatar's office said in a statement.

There was no mention of 1,619 missing Cypriots, some believed to have been sent to Turkey and kept imprisoned, with no word what happened to them, or of civilian, including women and children, who vanished, believed murdered.

Tatar focused only on Turkish-Cypriots and said there are mass graves of them on the island but that Greek-Cypriots have been trying to cover up atrocities, not mentioning those committed by the Turkish army. 

said the presidency in a written statement.

"The functioning of the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus, which struggles against time to find the missing and produces and continues to produce results with the extraordinary efforts of scientists from both sides, will be more effective if the Greek side finds the burial places of the missing and persuades witnesses to speak,” as he said his side is doing, despite complaints it is not.

"We invite Photis Photiou and his team, speaking on behalf of the Greek Cypriot administration, to cooperate in finding all the missing, instead of making unfounded propaganda statements without thinking about the families of the disappeared," said Tatar's statement, not offering to find missing Greek-Cypriots.

The Greek side on Cyprus recently paid tribute to all those who lost their lives during the 1974 Turkish invasion in which Photiou blamed Turkey.

The Committee on Missing Persons on Cyprus was established in 1981 by an agreement between the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities with the backing of the United Nations, to find the missing but it hasn't.

Turkish propaganda says it's army stopped killings, didn't perpetrate them and Tatar complained the Turkish-Cypriot side isn't being helped enough find is missing, but didn't offer to do the same for missing Greek-Cypriots.

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