The European Commission, on Friday, approved the new financial assistance programme for the Turkish Cypriot community, worth 32 million euros from the EU budget. An EU press release says that this is the continuation of the successful Aid Programme promoting the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community, improving contacts between the two communities and bringing the Turkish Cypriots closer to the EU.
Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu said: “During his visit to Cyprus in July, President Juncker reiterated the Commission’s longstanding commitment to the reunification of the island. This process should be facilitated through the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community and this is why we fund projects which contribute to bringing the two Cypriot communities closer together.”
Reconciliation and trust-building efforts will continue to be a strong component of the programme through support to the bi-communal committee on Cultural Heritage and, for the first time, the rehabilitation of the buffer zone in the old town of Nicosia.
Against the background of supporting the UN-led settlement process, the Commission implements the Council’s mandate of 26 April 2004 aiming to facilitate the reunification of the island by encouraging the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community. The Commission also ensures the implementation of the Green Line Regulation.
Since 2006, the EU has invested €400 million under the Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot community to support local small businesses, develop or improve key infrastructures, support student mobility and prepare the Turkish Cypriot community for the implementation of the EU body of laws in the perspective of the reunification of Cyprus.
The 2015 programme will focus on the following priorities:
Protecting the environment, especially with the closure of polluting dumpsites
Strengthening the dairy sector to prepare for the EU market
Preparing the Turkish Cypriot community for the application of the EU body of laws after a settlement
Facilitating businesses’ access to credit
Supporting civil society organizations to increase civic engagement and foster cooperation between the two communities.