The mayor of Morphou said on Wednesday that EU funds to the Turkish Cypriot community must be carefully granted so as to avoid irreversible changes on the ground.
Handing a petition to EU representatives on the 43rd anniversary of the occupation of Morphou by the Turkish army, Victoras Hadjiavram urged the EU to play a substantive role in efforts to reunite the island but added that cash to the Turkish Cypriot community could make things harder.
“The EU must play a substantive role in the procedure to resolve the Cyprus problem and secure the basic freedoms of the European acquis in Cyprus too,” the mayor said.
He warned, however, that funds to Turkish Cypriots could complicate efforts towards reunification.
“Unfortunately, these funds make things more difficult and create accomplished facts on the ground,” he said. “So, there must be careful administration of the funds because this is important; regulation must be above everything else and I don’t think the proper procedure followed in all other programmes is adhered to,” he added without elaborating.
The EU decided to provide assistance to the Turkish Cypriot community after Cyprus joined the EU in 2004 as a divided island.
The programme’s objectives are to promote social and economic development, develop and refurbish infrastructure, foster reconciliation, build confidence and support civil society, bring the Turkish Cypriot community closer to the EU, through information and contacts between Turkish Cypriots and other EU citizens and help the Turkish Cypriot community prepare for the implementation of EU law once a settlement of the Cyprus issue was agreed.
In the last 10 years (2006-2016), the EU allocated €449m to projects in support of the Turkish Cypriot community.
The Morphou mayor said it was unacceptable that the township was under occupation 43 years later.
But he added that he was not sure the EU wanted to put pressure on Turkey to find a viable solution.
“For another year, we will give you a resolution with the request to convey it to the European Commission and the European parliament,” Hadjiavram said. “I hope it will be the last time we visit you under such conditions. I hope you see us under a different state of affairs next time, but I’m not sure if the EU too wants to put such pressure on Turkey so that we find a viable solution.”