Cyprus Mail

Moves to drag UN into municipal merger dispute

Dherynia crossing point

As the disputes over the joining of municipalities into larger units rumbles on islandwide, the Dherynia mayor has gone as far as trying to solicit help from the UN to avoid an unwanted merger with Ayia Napa.

Dherynia mayor Andreas Karayiannis has sent a letter to UN special envoy to Cyprus Elizabeth Spehar informing her of their concerns regarding the proposed municipality merger with Paralimni, Sotira and Ayia Napa.

“Dherynia looks towards Famagusta and this is our historical link,” Karayiannis told the Cyprus Mail on Friday.

The municipality has outlined their concerns in the letter, highlighting the negative impacts that such a merger would have.

He argues that since 1974 about three quarters of the municipality is in the north and should therefore be treated as a special case.

“In the case of Athienou, its autonomy was maintained after concerns of their proximity to the Green Line and its unique characteristics were taken into account,” he added.

“The municipality of Dherynia is an extension of occupied Famagusta, and a merger with coastal areas does not respect this,” he said.

He said the coastal municipalities have a focus on tourism and this is not a shared priority of his community which is farther inland. Ayia Napa is just 12km away.

Dherynia’s objection is just one of others in the area. Ayia Napa is slated to merge with Protaras, Paralimni, Dherynia and Sotira, but said it wanted to merge solely with Sotira and Liopteri instead. The two latter had also expressed the same wish in the past.

Other roadblocks to local government reform include the deputy mayor of Strovolos saying he does not wish to see a merger with Nicosia.

Meanwhile, Akel municipal councillors in Aradippou have complained that at no point were they involved in discussions concerning the proposed mergers of Aradippou, Trouli, Kelion, Oroklini and Livadia.

The interior ministry rolled out its proposed local government reform programme last week.

The central government seeks to cluster municipalities and reduce administrative bloat, while cutting down on administrative costs.

Thirty municipalities and 48 communities will be merged, which means 83 per cent of the population, 700,000 residents, will now be part of a municipality, compared to 71 per cent currently.

Many of the municipalities wish to retain autonomy to safeguard their interests, while others are not opposed to a merger in principle – but cannot agree with which areas to join.

The Union of Cyprus Communities is to hold a meeting on December 16 with the participation of around 50 villages to discuss collective action ahead of the discussion of the local government reform in parliament.

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