More funds are to be channelled to the Turkish Cypriot community to ensure the wellbeing of Maronites who want to resettle on the north, the European parliament has decided. The funds are also for all “enclaved” persons as per the 3rd Vienna Agreement, the Cyprus News Agency reported on Thursday.
The European parliament approved an amendment to the 2018 budget which “deems it necessary to increase appropriations for the Turkish Cypriot community budget line for the purpose of contributing decisively to the continuation and intensification of the mission of the Committee of Missing Persons in Cyprus, the wellbeing of Maronites wishing to resettle and that of all enclaved persons as agreed in the 3rd Vienna Agreement, and of supporting the bi–communal Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage, thus promoting trust and reconciliation between the two communities”.
With the increased funding the Turkish Cypriot community will receive €34.5 million.
Greek Cypriot MEPs were taken aback by the amendment, proposed by German MEP Reimer Boge. They were upset by the explicit reference to the possibility of Maronites, who technically belong to the Greek Cypriot community, “resettling” in their Turkish-held villages prior to a solution to the Cyprus problem.
After the Cyprus Conference failed last July, days, the Turkish Cypriots announced they would permit Maronites, who lived in four villages in North Cyprus and were displaced following the 1974 Turkish military intervention in Cyprus, to return to their homes if they wished.
None of the five Cypriot MEPs voted for the amendment, with Diko’s Costas Mavrides and Edek’s Demetris Papadakis voting against, while Disy’s Lefteris Christoforou and Akel’s Neoclis Sylikiotis and Takis Hadjigeorgiou abstained.
In a statement, Mavrides and Papadakis said that prior to the vote they proposed an “improvement” in the wording of the amendment to “the wellbeing of all enclaved persons, including Maronites”, which Boge initially agreed to.
“Shortly before the vote, Mr Boge informed us that following consultation with the government of Cyprus he insisted on his initial amendment, rejecting our proposed improvement,” the two MEPs said.
“Further, the permanent representation of Cyprus, obviously on instructions from [Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides] approached the main political groups of the European parliament, asking them to vote for the original amendment and not the improved one.”
The two MEPs said they could “not understand the stance of the government and Mr Kasoulides’ insistence”.
In the vote, 414 MEPs voted for the amendment, 163 voted against, while 99 abstained.
The sixth South Cyprus MEP, Solidarity leader Eleni Theocharous, was absent from Wednesday’s vote, however, she also voiced her disapproval of the amendment.