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Six billion pounds needed for reconstruction of occupied north
2003-09-09 19:35:22

Nicosia, Sep 9 (CNA) ? The estimated cost of reconstruction in the northern Turkish occupied part of Cyprus amounts to six billion Cyprus pounds (US$ 12 billion), a ministerial committee, in charge of planning for the return of displaced persons to municipalities and communities currently under Turkish occupation after a political settlement, has said.

The committee, comprising the ministers of Interior, Communications and Works, Finance and Education and Culture, had its first meeting yesterday and set the basic parameters for the work required.

Speaking after the meeting Interior Minister Andreas Christou said that a team of government officials will be formed with the participation of the Cyprus Scientific Chamber which has already prepared a study on this issue.

This team, he explained, ?together with the ministerial committee will meet soon and start very specific work.''

Asked if there was a deadline for the completion of this project, Christou said that the initial decision of the Cabinet refers to a period of three months. He noted, however, that the deadlines will be specified after the first meeting of the sub-committee when the amount of work required would be ascertained.

Answering questions, he clarified that the government regards the reconstruction of the occupied areas as part of the development of Cyprus as a whole.

''We are working having in mind that we are the government of the Cyprus Republic and all Cypriots are its citizens,'' the Interior Minister noted.

Asked if the cost of the project has been discussed during the meeting, Christou said that a thorough analysis and discussion of this issue is required.

However, he added that an initial estimated cost of six billion Cyprus pounds would cover the reconstruction of the basic infrastructure and the main public buildings.

Stressing the need for economic help, the minister explained that ''without economic assistance these very important political goals can not be achieved''.

UN-led efforts to reunite the island of Cyprus, divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the northern part of the country, have failed so far. Renewed attempts are expected to take place ahead of Cyprus' accession to the European Union in May next year.

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