Missing Cypriots


Sir, - I am not surprised by the Turkish presentation (Mrs Engin Asula, First Secretary, Embassy of Turkey, August 10th) concerning the issue of the missing Cypriots which is the most tragic aspect of the Cyprus problem. I understand that her letter conforms with Turkish propaganda, which aims particularly to justify the Turkish atrocities in Cyprus and generally to consolidate the occupation of Cyprus by Turkish troops.

Mrs Asula alleges that The Irish Times tends to adopt "one-sided journalism . . . on Cyprus or Turko-Greek relations". However the fact that her letter was published in The Irish Times proves that her allegations are unfounded and groundless.

She also alleges that "talks about the missing of 1974 have been going on for quite some time" between President Clerides and the Turkish-Cypriot leader Mr Denktash, presenting him as "President" of the occupied part of Cyprus under the name "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus" ("TRNC").

Let us be honest and specific by giving numbers, dates and facts that Mrs. Asula avoided disclosing.

On July 20th 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus resulting in the occupation of 37 per cent of the island (north part), 200,000 Greek-Cypriot refugees, 1,619 Greek-Cypriot missing persons plus killed and raped civilians. (See speech of Mr Yalcin Kucuk, former officer of the Turkish Army which invaded Cyprus, University of Cyprus, Nicosia, May 14th 1998).

On February 13th 1975, the Turkish-Cypriot regime led by Mr Denktash declared the creation of the "Turkish Federated State of Cyprus" and on November 13th 1983 Mr Denktash declared the so-called "TRNC". Both of these entities have been repeatedly declared illegal by the United Nations and have not been recognised by any state (other than Turkey itself).

Moreover, the United Nations in all of its relevant resolutions recognises the Republic of Cyprus as the only legitimate state on the island and its Government as the sole lawful governing authority in Cyprus as well as the exclusive legitimate international representative of all Cypriot people [Security Council Resolutions 353 (1974), 360 (1974), 367 (1975), 541 (1983), and 550 (1984).]

With regard to Mrs Asula's attempt to promote Mr Denktash to "President" of occupied Cyprus under the name "TRNC", I would like to remind her that the proclamation of the "TRNC" was considered legally invalid especially by Resolution 541 (1983) which inter alia called for its withdrawal and also called all states not to recognise any Cypriot state other than the Republic of Cyprus.

Since 1974, all efforts to settle the Cyprus problem faced Turkish intransigence - including the efforts to resolve the humanitarian issue of missing persons, which is the most tragic consequence of the Turkish invasion. Mrs Asula's allegation Asula that "a roughly equal number of Turkish Cypriots disappeared during and following 1974", that the talks about "missing of 1974" are under development, and that "Mr Denktash has always declared ready" to discuss the issue, fall short of the real situation.

An agreement between President Clerides and the Turkish-Cypriot leader Denktash was signed on July 31st 1997 (23 years after the invasion, the Turkish side was finally persuaded to address this humanitarian issue) and provided for the exchange of all information at their disposal on the location of graves of Greek and Turkish Cypriot missing persons and the return of their remains for decent burial.

A total of 1,619 Greek-Cypriots and Greeks were listed as missing after the Turkish invasion and the Turkish Cypriot side presented a list of around 500 Turkish Cypriots as missing since the 1963 intercommunal clashes.

Unfortunately, even this humanitarian issue is blocked by Turkish unwillingness and no progress has been made towards the implementation of the above agreement due to the new conditions posed by Mr Denktash, as the UN Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan, pointed out in his recent report.

In my opinion, it would be more constructive if the Turkish side would respond to the proposals of my country for the settlement of the Cyprus problem and proceed to the negotiating table - instead of refusing to negotiate, acting provocatively and writing letters to distort the truth the problems it has created. - Yours, etc. Nicos Nicolaou, Secretary,

Embassy of the Republic of Cyprus, Dublin.