The agriculture ministry has refuted Solidarity Movement reports that it is sitting idle while Kykkos Monastery plans to build on land designated as a nature park and part of the European long-distance E4 path.
The announcement followed Solidarity claims that Kykkos Monastery arbitrarily imposed a detour around the Diarizos nature trail located in Paphos forest, “and excavated and erected premises and houses, ignoring reservations of the competent government departments, such as the Game and Fauna Service, the Environment Department, the Water Development Department, the Paphos district officer and the town planning service”.
In addition, the party said, the monastery is also laying asphalt on part of the path which is included in the Natura 2000 European network.
“All of the above are taking place with the tolerance of the agriculture ministry which has known of the matter from the first moment,” the party said.
It added that it had sent a letter to the agriculture minister in July last year but has yet to receive a reply.
“Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for private individuals, even state services to interfere with disrespect to the environment, altering it and showing contempt even to European Directives,” the party said.
Interventions to the area in question, it said, pose risks of water contamination and spreading disease, and also increase the possibility of fires.
The Diarizos valley and the E4 path, the party said, “are unique landscapes of Cypriot nature, they host medieval bridges, and for decades Cypriot flora and fauna have been developing naturally”. Another unique feature is that water runs in the Diarizos river year-round, it said.
In response, the agriculture ministry said that it shows zero tolerance in such cases and that it has so far answered five letters sent by the party to its departments concerning “the construction of a building on monastic land on the edge of Paphos forest”.
It added that the agriculture ministry has also expressed its opinion on the issue, through its departments, to the competent licensing authority, which is the interior ministry’s town planning service. Following this, the interior ministry also informed the party, it said, as to the handling of the case.
“Taking into consideration all the above, it is obvious that the Solidarity Movement is fully informed as to the case in question both by the agriculture ministry and the interior ministry and that zero tolerance is exhibited by any government service, department or ministry, as law provisions are being followed to the letter,” the agriculture ministry said.
The European long-distance path E4, which includes the Diarizos national park, was extended to Cyprus following a proposal from the Greek Ramblers Association to the European Ramblers Association, the coordinating body of the European Network of long distance paths. The path starts in Gibraltar, passes through Spain, France, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, mainland Greece, the Greek island of Crete, and Cyprus.
In its Cyprus section, European path E4 connects Larnaca and Paphos international airports. Along the route, it traverses the Troodos mountain range, Akamas peninsula and long stretches of rural areas, along regions of enhanced natural beauty and high ecological, historic, archaeological, cultural and scientific value. The main partners in Cyprus are the Cyprus Tourism Organisation and the Forestry Department.