The President of the European Commission urges Turkey to comply with ECHR judgment on missing persons
Nicosia, Nov 18 – The President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, has called on Turkey to comply rapidly and fully with the judgment of the ECHR on the fate of the missing persons in Cyprus.
Mr. Barroso expressed this position in his reply to a letter from Eleni Theocharous,member of the European Parliament,in which she had raised the issue of the missing persons in Cyprus. Ms. Theocharous's letter was dated August 26, 2009, and was also addressed to the Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn.
According to the letter, released on Tuesday by Ms. Theocharous, Mr. Barroso said that “the Commission is aware of the urgency of this issue and the need for families to be able to determine the fate of their missing relatives.”
The President of the European Commission quoted the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (Cyprus vs. Turkey 2001), which states that Turkey is obliged to ensure effective investigation into the whereabouts and the fate of Greek Cypriot missing persons who have disappeared under life-threatening circumstances.
“It is urgent for Turkey to comply rapidly and fully with this judgment. The facts now need to be established in the specific cases drawn to my attention and if confirmed, could be deemed in breach of the Geneva Convention,” said Mr. Barroso.
In the meantime, “the Commission continues to support fully the work of the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) in Cyprus,” said Barroso, adding that in August, the EU made “an additional financial contribution of 2 million Euros to support the outstanding work done by the CMP in Cyprus.”
Hundreds of Greek Cypriots – combatants, women and children - went missing during the summer of 1974 when Turkish troops invaded the island’s northern third.
The CMP is composed of a member appointed by each of the two communities and a third member, selected by the International Committee of the Red Cross and appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The mandate of the CMP is to establish the fate of missing persons. As a result of the violence generated during those times, a total of 502 Turkish Cypriots and 1493 Greek Cypriots were officially reported as missing by both communities to the CMP. Following a number of recent identifications, the total number of missing Greek Cypriots currently stands at 1468.
The 31 July 1997 Agreement, between the leaders of both communities at that time, provides for the exchange of information regarding known burial sites and the return of remains of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot missing persons.