The government has taken a “very soft” approach to dealing with the whole issue surrounding the illegal monastery being built in the Cape Greco area of Ayia Napa, the Cyprus Mail was told on Wednesday.

“The government seems to be taking the soft approach with the church,” the head of the House environment committee and Greens MP Charalambos Theopemptou told the newspaper. He was speaking after a committee briefing by the Agriculture Minister Maria Panayiotou.

He added that the committee expected more to be done by the government for the demolition of the illegal monastery.

He said Cyprus is already in “trouble” with the EU over violations the state allowed in environmentally protected Natura 2000 areas, and this cannot be allowed.

Speaking after the session Akel MP Andreas Kafkalias said: “No one is above the law, certainly not the church.”

He added that the party’s sole concern is the protection of the environment, especially with regard to protected areas.

“We express once again our strong concern about the full-frontal attack on the environment by illegal developments, the destruction of protected habitats and the piecemeal implementation of legislation regarding nature protection networks.”

At the briefing of the committee Panayiotou said: “We maintain our position that there must be a rectification of the illegalities and restoration of any environmental damage that may have been caused.”

She added that on March 29, the urban planning department issued a demolition order, and the environment department issued an order to have demolition plan filed, which was halted due to a church appeal.

“Despite the appeal, we will issue demolition regulations at an ad hoc committee, set to happen this week,” she said.

On Monday, it emerged that 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.

Last month, the European Commission has referred Cyprus to the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) due to its failure to fulfil obligations under the Habitats Directive, which aims to protect over a thousand animal and plant species in the EU.