WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today made the following statement regarding the decision by the government of Turkey to allow the Committee for Missing Persons (CMP) to access suspected burial sites in military zones, areas that had long been off limits for CMP teams:


“The Turkish government is doing the right thing by allowing the CMP to access these sites.  I have been pushing for this step for many years, and I’m grateful for this long overdue breakthrough.


“The world has not forgotten the 2,000 Greek and Turkish Cypriots still missing on Cyprus.  The families and loved ones of these lost souls deserve closure.  Hopefully this action will provide them with some of the answers they’ve awaited for so long.


“It is my hope that Turkey’s humanitarian action will also provide a further impetus to the Cypriot negotiators, Greek and Turkish, to reach a resolution to the island’s long-simmering dispute.  This decision, which will help put some of that history to rest, is a step in the right direction.”


Representative Engel is the author of the 1994 Missing in Cyprus law (PL 103-372) under which the State Department conducted an investigation of five Americans missing in Cyprus.  The congressionally mandated investigation led to the discovery of the remains of 17-year-old Andrew Kassapis and helped reinvigorate the work of the CMP.