Cyprus Mail

Mountain commissioner resigns over conflict of interest claims (updated)

Yiannakis Papadouris was appointed mountain development commissioner in 2017

Commissioner for the development of mountain communities Yiannakis Papadouris has resigned over conflict of interest claims, President Nicos Anastasiades said on Friday.

The president announced Papadouris’ resignation during the presentation of the national strategy for the development of mountain communities.

“I want to express my deepest regret because, as he has informed me, he has submitted his resignation for reasons of ethics and dignity despite my strong objections,” Anastasiades said.

Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides raised an issue in parliament earlier this month, arguing that through his position as commissioner Papadouris stood to gain personally from the plan to develop the mountain communities because of his business activity in the region.

The strategy, prepared after consultations with all 112 communities of the Troodos area, concerns over 250 actions with a total budget of €250.27m and is based on the principles of sustainable territorial development. Its three main pillars are economy, society and environment.

President Nicos Anastassades said during the presentation that the strategy consisted of 14 separate studies covering the full range of issues concerning each community and each geographical area and Troodos as a whole.

“We aim to substantially improve the quality of life of residents through upgrading existing and creating new infrastructure,” he said.

These include the upgrading of Troodos hospital both in infrastructure and staff, further strengthening of the care and education structures for preschool children, the promotion of an agricultural school and the creation of teleconference facilities for the pupils living in mountain communities.

He also said the strategy provides for the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage by the establishment of a mountain culture institute, and the energy and morphological upgrading of housing which is “very important.”

According to Anastasiades over 90 professors and experts worked for the preparation of the National Strategy from the Polytechnic School of the University of Thessaly, the Agricultural University of Athens, the University of the Aegean and the University of Clermont-Ferrand.

The former community leader of Kalopanayiotis, Papadouris owns many properties, mostly in the village, and has interests in numerous companies with operations in the area.

Two of his companies are also facing criminal charges relating to alleged offences committed in the process of developing certain properties.

The House watchdog committee heard Papadouris had two pending court cases, one brought by the district office in connection with illegal construction, and the second brought by the antiquities department for intervening in ancient monuments.

Speaking at the event on Friday, Papadouris said his resignation took the best interests of the area into consideration.

I am leaving with my head up high because the strategy we have designed must be implemented without obstacles and public relations fireworks, he said.

The outgoing commissioner said he was ready to present the real facts about what has been said “about me, without me.”

Papadouris was appointed commissioner a year ago to oversee the interior minister’s strategic plan for the development of mountain regions, which seeks to halt and reverse the decades-long depopulation of the Troodos area by attracting more people to live in the region, promote tourism, balance the protection and exploitation of natural resources and improve infrastructure and transport.

He was considered well placed to oversee the plan because of his role in upgrading Kalopanayiotis.

Since 2002, when he was voted community leader, Papadouris had been instrumental in transforming the village, adding roads and renovating old buildings to turn them into hotels, a library, self-catering apartments, a popular spa resort and restaurants.

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