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Tatar claims Greek Cypriots obstructing excavations

Pantelides refutes Turkish Cypriot leader's claims and emphasizes progress in locating missing persons

Newsroom / CNA

Leonidas Pantelides, the Greek Cypriot member in the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) has described as not accurate claims by the Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar about obstructing excavations in the village of Aloda.

Speaking Tuesday before the House Committee on Refugees-Enclaved-Missing-Adversely Affected Persons, Pantelides said that there is no neglect as regards Turkish Cypriot missing persons’ cases noting that the results for finding Turkish Cypriots are noticeably better than those for Greek Cypriots.

The Committee was also informed that Germany is withdrawing its funding to the CMP while other countries intend to do the same.

Pantelides described Tatar’s claims as an attempt to exert public pressure to speed up an excavation they are particularly interested in. He noted that the case is on the CMP list and that everything will be done in an orderly manner.

Pantelides told the parliamentarians that the area in which excavations could be conducted is protected and that their priority is areas that are at risk of soil erosion which would make efforts to find missing people more difficult.

He said that about 700 Greek Cypriots and 200 Turkish Cypriots remain missing. He said that the results in finding remains Turkish Cypriots’ remains are at 58%-60% while Greek Cypriots are at 46%-47%.

He also said that the cooperation with the Turkish Cypriot member of CMP is satisfactory, but they face problems with the so-called "authorities" in the Turkish-occupied areas and with the Turkish-occupying army in military areas.

Referring to the ongoing excavations he said that they are in the process of drying up part of Agios Loukas lake where there is information about a mass grave of Greek Cypriots.

He said that the exact spot is not known and that they need to drain part of the lake. He noted that there was a delay of three years after claiming that this is a Natura area.

According to information they received, about 15 people are buried there. But there is a Turkish Cypriot eyewitness who said that more people were loaded into trucks.

Pantelides also said that they are excavating in Lapithos for missing Greek Cypriots. There were ambushes in the area and 70 people went missing of whom 40 remain to be found. He also said that excavations are being carried out at the Troulloi area in Famagusta. Excavations are also conducted in Palekithro for T/c missing persons since 1964, and in Houlu at Paphos for T/cs missing from the 1964-67 period.

An effort is also underway to locate T/c missing persons in Strovolos where an EAC substation had to be dismantled.

The representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Spyros Attas told the Committee that the Ministry is obliged to maintain the issue of missing persons in the international scope of interest and especially in the Council of Europe, as a means of putting pressure on Turkey. He also referred to pleas to prevent the withdrawal of funding from a European country to CMP. He did not refer to the country but an MP later said in press statements that this country is Germany.

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. Following the establishment of an agreed list of missing persons, the CMP’s objective is to recover, identify, and return to their families, the remains of 2002 persons (492 Turkish Cypriots and 1,510 Greek Cypriots) who went missing during the inter-communal fighting of 1963 to 1964 and the events of 1974.

The Committee has three members, two appointed respectively by the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot communities and a third member selected by the International Committee of the Red Cross and appointed by the United Nations Secretary-General.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory.

Cyprus  |  missing  |  occupied  |  Turkey

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