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Britain pledges to raise missing persons' issue with Turkey
2003-02-03 09:48:26

By Kyriacos Tsioupras -- London, Feb 3 (CNA) -- The British government has pledged to approach the Turkish government about the question of the people missing since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Bill Rammwel, made this statement during a debate on the issue at the House of Commons last week, when asked by Labour MP, John Lyons what Britain can do about the missing persons in Cyprus.|

"We can and will urge the Turkish government to do all that they can", he said, adding "we must also be clear that the major responsibility for resolving the problem lies with the Greek Cypriots, the Turkish Cypriots and the UN ? the three parties to the committee of the missing.

Rammwell said he believed the issue should be specifically referred to in the proposals of the UN Secretary-General."

He said that was important "because while the issue can and should be resolved outside the political process, the political process could none the less have a huge impact on the ability of both sides to resolve the issue".

Lyons said the British government "should take every opportunity to insist that international organisations step up the pressure on the new Turkish government".

Since the process of exhumation of remains from two cemeteries in Nicosia began in the summer of 1999, a total of 127 persons were identified. The remains of one other missing person, a US citizen had been identified before the government embarked on a process of exhumation in 1999.

The total of remains of missing persons identified is now 32, all of whom were listed as missing in a list of 1619. The rest of the persons identified were people known to have been killed in the summer of 1974, some of whom civilians.

The Turkish Cypriots have said there are over 500 persons missing since the early 1960s when intercommunal fighting broke out on the island.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37 percent of the island's territory.


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