The European Commission on Thursday held a groundbreaking ceremony for the Kormakitis Centre for Cooperation, the educational and cultural centre to be constructed at the Maronite village in the north.
Once completed, the Kormakitis Centre for Cooperation will provide the Maronite community and other communities with a facility for education, youth activities, conferences and meetings, as well as cultural activities, the European Commission said in a statement. The €900,000 project is within the framework of the EU Aid programme for the Turkish Cypriot community.
The new centre, which is being supported as part of the EU-funded Local Infrastructure Facility (LIF) implemented by UNDP, has a mission to serve the reconciliation and coexistence of local communities in Cyprus.
“The Maronite community is currently in the process of establishing an association that will be responsible for managing the new facility, for which designs have been completed and construction works have just started,” the statement said.
It added that EU-funded restoration and rehabilitation projects have already contributed to revitalising the social and cultural heritage of Kormakitis.
“The Kormakitis Centre for Cooperation holds a vision for the future. A future that celebrates the multi-communal landscape of Cyprus that strives for reconciliation and coexistence,” said Judit Rozsa, the director for Coordination, Resources and Aid Programme at DG Reform in the European Commission, speaking at the event.
“It was a vision of the Maronite community here to create such a facility,” she added.
Representative of the Maronite community in parliament, Yiannakis Mousa, said the event was “a historic day for the Maronite community of Cyprus”.
“It will operate as a bridge for cooperation and collaboration amongst all communities and all Cypriots,” he added. He said the Maronite Community expresses its gratitude to the EU.
The centre will be constructed in the place of Kormakitis’ old school that was demolished earlier in the month.
This stirred numerous reactions within the community by many who felt an important part of their village’s heritage was erased. Despite the old building’s dilapidated looks, many believed it had to be restored.
Mousa said experts found that the building was unsalvageable, and it was decided to build a new one instead that could be used both as school and a cultural centre to promote peaceful coexistence among the children of all communities on the island.
It will be able to host 72 children on camping sessions, with classrooms, dormitories, a dining and conference hall. The goal is for a preschool and a primary school to start operating at the new building from next September.
Alexandre Prieto, the Project Manager of UNDP LIF, said the UNDP has been working on supporting confidence building measures in Cyprus for more than 20 years now.
“We see this project as a chance for building confidence and increasing cooperation, especially amongst the youth,” said Prieto, noting that the Centre will be providing opportunities to bring together youth from all communities of Cyprus.
LIF came into existence through a contribution agreement signed in December 2018 under the EU Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot community with an initial budget of €17.7 million, later increased to €28.1 million.
The overall objective of LIF is to provide technical assistance for the design and implementation of projects aiming at improving environmental, social and economic infrastructure in the Turkish Cypriot community.