Cyprus Mail

Swords drawn over illegal Ayia Napa monastery (Updated)

Construction on the monastery near Cape Greco continues

Architects and engineers involved in the construction of a monastery at the environmentally protected Natura 2000 site in Cape Greco will appear before a disciplinary board, it emerged on Monday.

Cyprus’ Scientific and Technical Chamber (Etek) chairman Constantinos Constanti told the state broadcaster the penalties would be announced when a decision is taken.

He said the church should be “a shining example” over compliance with the relevant legislation, noting that the main responsibility for the start of construction works lies with the municipality of Ayia Napa.

He also said that there has been an increase in cases of illegal developments and Etek said it will be tough on its members over such cases.

Famagusta Bishop Vasilios also struck a conciliatory tone in a statement which went public on Monday saying construction works would be put on hold until court proceedings were done.

The letter was dated April 4, where he was responding to a letter from Ayia Napa municipality, saying “following our previous phone conversion, we would like to inform you…that we have suspended all works on the plot of land.”

The government had ordered works for the monastery to stop but accused it of ignoring the orders.

Bishop Vasilios’ letter went on to say that they appealed the decision but to date (April 4) it had yet to be examined.

“If the appeal is unsuccessful, we remain committed to demolishing the construction on this site.”

The bishop however appeared to remain faithful to the cause, as the bishopric launched a petition collecting signatures from the public a few days ago.

“This is a necessary and beneficial project for the Famagusta district and for Cyprus,” the petition says.

The construction will house the “homeless monastic brotherhood” for Ayia Napa, as the existing monastery is situated between nightclubs in the centre of town, it said.

Additionally, it will offer rehab programmes and other support for vulnerable people, the petition added.

“With the appropriate indications and permits from the relevant authorities, this project can be carried out at this location and will perfectly combine environmental protection and human protection, making it a great legacy for the present and the future.”

The Famagusta planning authority for its part claimed ignorance of the illegal activity and issued an order for the works to stop several weeks ago.

Last week, Interior Minsiter Constantinos Ioannou said it was unacceptable that the church was still ongoing with the works despite orders to stop and said he would take up the matter with the attorney-general’s office.

Meanwhile, Green Party leader Giorgos Perdikis said the church is involved in an “environmental scandal” by building within a Natura 2000 site.

Perdikis has sent a letter to Archbishop Georgios calling him to intervene and halt the construction underway by the bishopric in the protected nature area of Cape Greco.



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