THE BELGIAN government will contribute 250,000 euros to the Committee on Missing Persons in Cyprus (CMP), to enable it to extend its project on the exhumation, identification and return of remains of missing persons to their relatives.
Belgium’s contribution has been welcomed by the President of the Pancyprian Organisation of Relatives of Missing and Undeclared Prisoners, Nicos Theodosiou. He expressed the hope that, “other European Union countries follow Belgium’s example and contribute to this humanitarian cause.”
According to a joint press release from the CMP and the Belgian Embassy in Cyprus, the “government of Belgium supports the work of the CMP because it enhances dialogue between the communities and brings concrete evidence that both communities have a strong interest in cooperating, in order to go beyond the tragic events of the past and build together their common future.”
Referring to the CMP’s work, Theodosiou said that although there is some progress, the relatives of the missing persons are concerned because there have not been any identifications of remains through DNA.
“The procedure is progressing well, but we are not satisfied with the results yet. Progress without results is an issue of concern to us. We look forward to the identification process,” he noted.
Theodosiou added that the relatives of the missing would also like to see some progress regarding the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) ruling of 2001 in the 4th Interstate Appeal Cyprus vs Turkey.
In May 2001, the ECHR found Ankara guilty of violating the rights of the relatives of missing persons because of its refusal to inform them of their fate, thus violating article 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
“The exhumation procedure is not enough for us. We would like to see some progress regarding the ECHR’s ruling for Turkey, which is obliged to inform us on the fate of our beloved ones,” Theodosiou said.
He also expressed the view that the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Cyprus, Michael Moller, is awaiting the conclusion of the CMP’s procedures to focus on the implementation of the ECHR’s ruling for the ascertainment of the fate of the missing persons.
He recalled that the Committee of the Permanent Representatives of the Council of Europe had expressed the conviction that progress in the issue of exhumations and identifications does not constitute a remedy for the ECHR’s ruling.
The Committee, he added, has repeatedly asked Turkey to give information on the fate of the missing persons.
After the 1974 Turkish invasion, 1,493 Greek Cypriots were officially reported as missing to the CMP, but following a number of identifications in the past several years, that number now stands at 1,468.
The Turkish Cypriot community has declared 502 persons as missing.