Cyprus Mail

Rural residents to protest over local co-op closures

By Evie Andreou

Several rural communities have started to protest over the decision to close their local co-op branches, including Xylofagou and Lymbia.

The closing down at the end of this month of the Co-op branch in the village of Lymbia in the Nicosia district that borders the buffer zone is “like a second [Turkish] invasion”, community leader Michalis Georgiou said on Thursday.

The community council is organising a protest on Saturday morning outside the Co-op bank’s branch in Lymbia, the only bank outlet in the village.

The around 3,000-member community is very upset, its leader said.

“We have enough problems as a community that borders the buffer zone. We feel that this is like a second Attila,” Georgiou told the Cyprus Mail. He was referring to the 1974 Turkish invasion that was code-named by Turkey as Operation Attila.

The branch, he said, is set to close down on September 28, following a decision by Hellenic, the lender that acquired certain assets and liabilities of the Co-op, to

close around 100 of the latter’s branches.

This, Georgiou said, will cause problems in the community as all of its residents are clients of the co-op and rely heavily on the branch for their bank transactions.

“We have many senior citizens in the community, we don’t know how we would transfer them all to the villages when they need to go to the bank,” Georgiou said.

He said that there were Co-op branches in the nearby villages of Dhali and Pera Horio, but that, as the entire community of Lymbia are customers of the same lender, it is feared that those branches would not have the capacity to serve everyone properly.

There had been announcements that the bank would arrange mobile units for mountainous areas, he said, but no arrangements have been made known to them for similar measures concerning their village.

Georgiou said that they would take measures against this decision.

Last week, after a meeting with Hellenic Bank representatives that did not yield any results, the community had announced that they may even withdraw all their money if the lender goes ahead with the closing down of the branch.

Xylofagou pensioners too, along with other residents of Famagusta district village, said they were going on a protest on Friday morning over the closing down the co-op branch in their community.

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