Maronite villages are close to extinction their representative tells CNA

Maronite villages are close to extinction and we can not wait for a Cyprus solution before relocating there, said Yiannakis Moussas, the Representative of the Maronite religious group in the Cyprus House.

In an interview with the Cyprus News Agency, Moussas said that the return of Maronites to their villages in Agia Marina and Asomatos will be possible only after the removal of the Turkish army.

He went on to say that relocation is possible even before a Cyprus settlement, under the same interim regime governing Kormakitis, another Turkish-occupied Maronite village in the northwestern tip of Cyprus. a Cyprus settlement will provide for a comprehensive solution to the problems the community is facing, but until then it is our duty and obligation to keep our villages alive, he said.

According to Moussas, the issue is not political but of humanitarian nature, and has to do with preserving a historic minority of Cyprus.

President of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades said during an event, on Thursday, that he fully supports the justified demand to return all four Maronite villages to their legal inhabitants. We completely agree with the President’s position and we are working towards this. Without our villages, the community has no prospects of surviving the Maronite Representative tells CNA.

Asked to evaluate various announcements coming from the Turkish Cypriot side, about a possible opening of the Maronite villages, Moussas says that we monitor developments constantly. We are in consultation with the Cyprus government and we are here to handle any situation.

Moussas believes that relocating to the two villages after the Turkish army leaves will take some time. He explains that infrastructure in the villages of Agia Marina and Asomatos, used for decades as military barracks by the Turkish army, is in need of repair. We are talking about roads, the electricity grid, telecommunications. A community will have to start almost from scratch he says.

However, he notes that with the right planning, the villages will be able to welcome their residents in a two, three years’ time.

Asked about the expectations of his community, Moussas tells CNA that we cannot wait for a Cyprus solution, under no circumstances. He explains that relocating there before a Cyprus settlement gives Maronites the opportunity to keep their villages alive which is sine qua non for the survival of the Maronite community in this land.

Later, in the framework of a Cyprus settlement, we will discuss all of the community’s demands, he adds.

This is not a political issue and I disagree with the position that it creates faits accomplis. This is something I personally reject. Rather, it is a huge effort with humanitarian characteristics in order to keep a historic minority alive he says.

Moussas says that there are families ready to relocate immediately, if conditions allow. By that, he says, I am referring to living conditions, not to political conditions which will only be right after a Cyprus settlement.

The Representative of the Maronites in the parliament refers moreover to the incentives scheme for the relocation of Maronites to the other two villages, Kormakitis and Karpasha, endorsed by the government of the Republic of Cyprus. He says that due to cases of misuse, the scheme has been de facto suspended for the last year and a half and no application has been approved.

In the past 18 months, only two or three cases have been approved, out of 150 he says.

Moussas says finally that he is in constant contact with Presidential Commissioner Photis Photiou and Minister of Labour Zeta Emilianidou and expects the scheme to resume soon after receiving the green light from the Cabinet.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. Today, few enclaved Greek Cypriots and Maronites remain in the occupied areas.

Enclaved Maronites in Kormakitis and Karpasha are estimated at 150 people, while another 150 have been already resettled there.

Two more Maronite villages, Asomatos and Agia Marina, remain under the control of the Turkish occupation army since 1974 and are not open for habitation.

Source: Cyprus News Agency