The Maronites of occupied Ayia Marina will soon be free to return to their village, which is currently a military base, Turkish Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci said during a visit at the village on Thursday, it emerged on Saturday.
According to local daily Politis, Turkish Cypriot former village residents, who joined Akinci on the visit, were told that the Turkish army is preparing to withdraw from the village.
Reconstruction of the derelict village could start as early as three months from now.
On Friday, a delegation of Cypriot Maronites visited the village and recorded the work that needs to be done, primarily in terms of connecting the area to the power grid and water supply, so that reconstruction work can start.
Maro Emmanouil, a member of the bicommunal Ayia Marina group who participated in Friday’s delegation, was quoted by the paper as saying that Akinci had pledged to support the return of the Maronites in the past.
She also noted the significance to the Maronite community of reconnecting with its roots and history, as it is at risk of extinction due to its particularly small size.
One of Cyprus’ three official minorities – Armenians and Latins being the other two – Maronites opted to be part of the Greek Cypriot community with the country’s independence in 1960.
Reflecting their close communal bonds, they lived in predominantly Maronite villages – Kormakitis, Ayia Marina, Asomatos and Karpasha – all of which have been under Turkish occupation since 1974.