Cyprus Mail

Monastery implicated in environmental scandal

Osiou Avakoum monastery

The Osiou Avakoum monastery was implicated in an environmental scandal on Thursday, when it emerged the structure was built on land protected under the Natura 2000 environmental policy.

The monastery has recently become notorious for behaviours ranging from physical abuse and extortion to sexual activity among clergy members.

MPs speaking on state broadcaster radio said that any construction problems would need to be investigated by parliament.

Speaking to CyBC, Akel MP Aristos Damianou said that the issues surrounding the monastery, including the environmental problems, had been registered in house committees and would be discussed.

For two years, processes have been underway for the legalisation of the monastic facilities through the registration and construction of a road leading to the monastery.

However, according to a report in Philenews, efforts have been slowed by refusals in some government departments, who disagree with the authorisation permitted for the monastery’s construction in an area covered by the Natura 2000 network without proper environmental assessments.

Legal action has been taken against the monastery, the church committee, and the Archimandrite Nektarios Georgiou by the Nicosia District Administration through the Attorney-General’s Office for the unauthorised constructions that exist on the site.

The first inspection by a supervisor of the District Administration was carried out in September 2022 and in March 2023 after a new investigation revealed that there were illegal constructions and that there were no final approvals for a number of buildings, including monk accommodation, auxiliary rooms, warehouses, offices, etc.

Also commenting to the radio about this matter, Greens party leader Giorgos Perdikis said that the matter of whether the monastery violated a Natura 2000 area needed to be investigated.

He added: “In Cyprus, Natura areas are just for exploitation.”

He then listed other Natura areas that are being similarly violated, with the state turning a blind eye.

Also commenting, Disy MP Demetris Demetriou said that all the buildings at the monastery are “illegal” and that they were all built “illegally”.

“There is nothing legal there. They don’t have electricity legally, nor do they have a building permit, and nor do they have allowance to have a road,” he said.

The whole issue will be tried on March 24, regarding the illegal construction work, according to Demetriou.

There will be a court hearing then.

The Osiou Avakoum monastery was built in 2020, and is currently under investigation by police for the claims of financial extortion brought to them by Bishop Isaias of Tamasos.

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