Unficyp said on Thursday they have no intention of abandoning the Ledra Palace hotel, and that no official request has been filed by majority stakeholder – the church – despite Archbishop Georgios raising the issue with President Nikos Christodoulides.
Earlier, speaking after his meeting with the president, the archbishop said that the government will look into the future of the Ledra Palace hotel in the UN buffer zone as he intends to make use of the hotel, where the Unficyp HQ is currently located.
Last week, the archdiocese, the majority shareholders of the hotel, made it known through Archbishop Georgios that they intended to request to utilise the hotel.
However, Unficyp told the Cyprus Mail that many rooms are still used by the UN peacekeepers and the archbishop has not even made an official request to meet with them about Ledra Palace.
“Many rooms are still used [by Unficyp], they have no intention of giving it [the hotel] up,” Unficyp said.
“Firstly, Ledra Palace remains imperative for Unficyp operations inside the UN buffer zone. The site is used for mission critical activities every day.”
The issue is not really a new one, as the previous archbishop, Chrysostomos II, had also had similar inclinations about the hotel.
Approximately three years ago, peacekeepers who had been staying in the bedrooms of the hotel, moved to prefabricated buildings on the hotel premises as the accommodation had deteriorated over the years. Since then the rooms have been empty.
However, Unficyp still uses many of the common spaces for its activities, and there is daily use of the property.
Last week, reports suggested that the archdiocese had already made contacts with the United Nations, which has been operating the building for decades.
During his meeting on Thursday, the archbishop said that the government agreed to examine the matter of the hotel.
He added that many problems have been created for the hotel due to the Turkish invasion.
“We have found full understanding, the issues will be looked into and we will be informed at the appropriate time,” he added.
Asked if the hotel will return to the ownership of the archdiocese, the archbishop said that it is among the issues discussed at the meeting and that will be considered by both the presidency and the United Nations.
“The government and the president will look at these issues comprehensively. We will have consultations again and we will meet again.”
Commenting on what will happen to the hotel if given back to the church, he said: “When we have that answer, we will talk again.”
Last week, the archbishop said if inspections show the building to be safe and if the UN elects to abandon it, he plans to use it for church functions and other cultural events, and also repair it.
The Ledra Palace hotel was first opened on October 8, 1949 in a ceremony attended by then governor of Cyprus Andrew Barkworth Wright. Its construction cost £20,000.
It was considered a luxury hotel and initially had a total of 94 bedrooms, all of which were equipped with hot and cold water, central heating and a telephone. There were two restaurants, two bars, a café and a function room. It also had an outdoor pool which was a novelty at the time.
In 1968, two floors were added to the building, increasing the number of rooms to 200. When the hotel’s majority shareholder Dimitrios Zerpinis died, archbishop Makarios III bought his shares from his widow and made the archdiocese the hotel’s main shareholder.