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MEPs to be given a sense of humanitarian urgency on missing persons’ question

A visit to Cyprus by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament (LIBE) (3-5 April) and a meeting on Wednesday with the Committee on Missing Persons (CMP) is extremely important, CMP’s third member Paul-Henri Arni has told the Cyprus News Agency.

LIBE, led by Spanish MEP Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, will hold an exploratory mission on the island, focusing on examining the progress made on the missing persons issue. Asked about the mission, Arni said that “we are going to give him ( Aguilar) a sense of the humanitarian urgency to deal with this question (missing persons question) because in Strasbourg things get very often politicized.’’

‘’We want him, as special rapporteur, to understand the humanitarian dimension and the drama of the families and the necessity to accelerate this work and also to tell him that the European support -for which we are very thankful -has to continue because we are at a period of time where probably 5-6 more years we have to increase our efforts,’’ he pointed out.

According to Arni, the CMP is investing in new technologies and in new methods to improve its investigation and it is very important to do it now before the last witnesses pass away.

‘’So we want to tell him that it is extremely important for the European Parliament to continue supporting this work and for him to believe that, he has to see it, otherwise he won’t believe it,’’ he said.

Arni told CNA that MEP Aguilar was invited to Cyprus a few months back, when he was appointed Special rapporteur for missing persons. He explained that this is a position that existed in the past and a new position has been reinstated, therefore the CMP thought that it would be a good thing for him to visit Cyprus and talk to them.

Invited to comment on the importance of these visits and how various officials need to be on the ground to see the work of the CMP and understand the various dimensions of the missing persons’ issue, Arni recalled former EP President Martin Schulz’s visit to the CMP lab in 2016.

‘’He came here in 2016 and he made a very moving statement to the press after the visit to the lab, how he now understands its impressive work,” he said that CMP’s impressive scientific work has deep personal dimension and it is an example of how together Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots can overcome pain of the past and find the energy to build a better future together, he would have never said these words if he hadn’t been here and at the lab to see the work,’’ he said.

LIBE Committee will be meeting tomorrow morning with UNSG Special Representative to Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar and then with the CMP members.The MEPs will pay a visit to the CMP Anthropological Laboratory. The visit includes meetings with the House President, the Foreign Minister, the Members of the House Refugee Committee, the Presidential Commissioner and relatives of the missing persons.

The European Parliament`s delegation is led by MEP Huan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, (Socialists & Democrats, Spain), along with Ana Gomez (S & D, Portugal), Asim Anthemov (European People`s Party, Bulgaria), Thomas Zedecovski (EPP, Czech Republic) and Elisabeth Woserberg – Vryonidis, (EPP, Greece). The Delegation will also be accompanied by Cypriot MEPs Lefteris Christoforou (EPP), Takis Hadjigeorgiou (European Union Left), Dimitris Papadakis (S & D), Kostas Mavridis (S & D) and Eleni Theocharous (European Conservatives and Reformists).

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third. Since then, the fate of hundreds of people remains unknown.

A Committee on Missing Persons has been established, upon agreement between the leaders of the two communities, with the scope of exhuming, identifying and returning the remains of missing persons to their relatives.

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