Turkey's non-compliance with Court decision raised in Strasbourg
Nicosia, Apr 20 (CNA) -- Representatives of Cyprus and Turkey have once again outlined their positions on the issue of missing persons, among other topics, during a discussion in Strasbourg, with the former reiterating the view that Turkey needs to carry out a thorough and effective investigation and the latter saying serious work is being done in this regard.
Chairman of the Cyprus Committee of Relatives of Missing Persons Nicos Theodosiou has embarked on a series of contacts with European Union ambassadors here to press on with the urgency for a resolution to this humanitarian issue and to seek their help so that Turkey is persuaded to work effectively and productively towards this objective.
In a different development, Mehmet Ali Talat, new leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, has sent a third letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan about this issue, while Turkey has submitted a memorandum to the Committee of Ministers ahead of a discussion on the matter.
The discussion took place at the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe as part of the ongoing effort to get Turkey to comply with a European Court of Human Rights judgment which found it guilty of violating the rights of relatives of missing persons in Cyprus and ordered Ankara to carry out effective investigation into the fate of these people, missing since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
The Committee also discussed the living conditions of Greek Cypriots living in occupied Cyprus, problems they face in exercising their right to education and religion. The Committee heard once again positions about the role of the military courts in civil law suits.
These matters will be brought before the Committee at its June meeting.
In its memorandum Ankara claims that work within the Committee of Missing Persons (CMP) is progressing in a satisfactory manner and that this offers the best way to make headway towards a solution.
The latest attempt of the CMP, a tripartite committee comprising representatives of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sides and a third member appointed by the UN, to exhume remains in Turkish occupied Cyprus ended in failure as no remains were located in the area indicated by the Turkish Cypriot side, which said it had been given wrong information about the specific venue.
The Greek Cypriot side has already exhumed and identified remains of missing persons, buried in the southern government controlled part of the island and continues this effort.
''The changed diction in statements by the Turkish side seeks to create impressions at the Starsbourg Committee which has warned Turkey of moves to adopt an interim resolution with regard to Ankara's failure to comply with the Court decision,'' Theodosiou has told CNA.
Theodosiou said that during his recent contacts in Strasbourg he referred to Turkey's positions on the matter and in particular the failed attempt to exhume remains in the occupied village of Trahonas.
''It looks as if the Turkish military is not yet ready to make those steps that are necessary to help the process of exhumation and identification of remains in the occupied north, which it continues to control,'' he added.
In early March Talat sent another letter to Annan saying that no exhumations could take place in the occupied areas unless what he calls ''the problem of the laboratory'' that would carry out the scientific identification process is sorted out.
He is asking for equal Turkish and Greek Cypriot representation at the Institute of Genetics and Neurology, which carries out work in a variety of spheres, not just with regard to the issue of missing persons.
The Cyprus government had proposed via the CMP that Turkish Cypriot scientists work with their Greek Cypriot counterparts at the laboratory that would carry out the DNA examinations on remains, a suggestion to which Talat has not replied yet.
The Institute of Genetics and Neurology, working with the Boston-based international agency Physicians for Human Rights, was instrumental in identifying remains unearthed in the southern part of the island.