An Edek proposal to put a halt to local authorities and public organisations leasing Turkish-Cypriot owned properties came before the House Refugee Committee on Tuesday, with the interior ministry, municipalities, communities and the Pancyprian Committee of Refugees all voicing opposition.
Supporters of the bill see it as a way of ending what they have described as the arbitrary action of Paphos Municipality over management of Turkish Cypriot properties. Paphos mayor Phedonas Phedonos has hit back, accusing MPs of ‘political cannibalism’.
Committee chair Skevi Koukoumas told reporters that her party Akel had reservations about the proposal noting that a number of buildings of architectural significance need repair and this will require the involvement of local authorities through the tapping of EU funds.
The lease on a number of Turkish Cypriot properties was ending in the immediate future and if the bill is enacted, leases with local authorities will not be renewed. Problems will arise with management of premises such as care homes for the aged, children’s nurseries and other public benefit buildings, she said.
“There are communities in which the overwhelming majority of properties are Turkish Cypriot and are inhabited by refugees to a great extent,” she said. Should the bill go ahead, it will not be possible to implement any project in these communities.
Koukouma said that discussion will continue with the possibility MPs may explore ways of amending the current law to introduce safety clauses to prevent abuse.
“As it stands, the law is satisfactory, simply when there is room for abuse, we have the results that we have as is the case in Paphos,” she said.
Andreas Vyras, chairman of the Union of Cypriot Municipalities, said the proposal ran contrary to the interests of citizens, adding that occupied municipalities and communities shared this view.
As an example of positive results from the management of Turkish Cypriot properties by municipalities he cited the parking area in the Mackenzie area for which Larnaca Municipality pays the custodian of Turkish Cypriot property €140,000 a year and which has boosted the area and created about 200 jobs.