The government attaches great importance to the promotion and strengthening of rural areas and mountain villages, Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou said on Sunday.

Ioannou was speaking at the opening of the Fikardou Christmas village, and said the government believes that “preserving the historical and traditional character of these communities is a form of expression and strengthening of our culture.”

“Our aim is to keep mountain villages and villages in the countryside alive by adopting policies which develop and contribute to the progress of the communities, while also providing incentives to attract new residents and professional activity to them,” he said,

He added, “existing and new housing programmes and actions in other sectors, such as green development and the encouraging of entrepreneurship, are all being done with this in mind.”

He went on to speak about local government reform, saying the reforms implemented will have “multiple benefits for rural residents”.

These benefits, he said, will include “local communities being able to respond more adequately and provide better quality services in a direct way which serves their contemporary needs.”

He said the government “as far as possible, will stand as a helper and supporter” of rural communities.