Cyprus President: Foreign funding of policies unacceptable interference
Nicosia, Oct 29 (CNA) -- Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos has described as ''unacceptable interference in the internal affairs'' of the country funding by foreign organisations with a view at supporting one or the other policy.
President Papadopoulos stressed, however, that there is nothing wrong with foreign funding of programmes for rapprochement between the island's two communities or of other social welfare projects.
Papadopoulos' comments came in the wake of claims and counterclaims that funds have been dispersed in Cyprus to promote one or the other policy, in the months before a crucial vote on the island on a UN proposed solution plan (the Annan plan), rejected by the overwhelming majority of Greek Cypriots and approved by 65 per cent of Turkish Cypriots.
''I believe that this is an unacceptable interference in our internal affairs when foreign organisations dispose funds, not to support charitable work and other social welfare purposes, but to support a policy or a position in Cyprus,'' Papadopoulos said.
Responding to questions about US refusal to reveal the names of those who have received funds or their associates, he explained that UN agency UNOPS, funded from the annual US Congress grant to Cyprus, had been funding for years social welfare projects and programmes aimed at bringing the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities closer together through a committee, with the participation of Greek and Turkish Cypriots as well as government and UNOPS representatives.
''As of 2003, part of these funds was allocated exclusively to UNOPS, as they themselves have revealed with US administration instructions, to fund projects at their discretion, outside the joint committee, without informing committee members and without providing a list of recipients of such funds, in spite of our repeated requests to be informed,'' he added.
Papadopoulos said he protested in writing about this to the then UN Secretary General's special adviser on Cyprus Alvaro de Soto, saying this was unorthodox. Alvaro de Soto said in his reply letter that the UN was allocating these funds because it considered that such funding promoted moves for rapprochement.
''I consider this to be a violation of article 2.7 of the UN Charter, which prohibits the UN from interfering in the internal political affairs of its member states,'' Papadopoulos said.
In the past few years, the US annual grant was reduced to 13 million US dollars to fund, through UNOPS and other UN agencies, bicommunal projects, with government consent.
Responding to questions, Papadopoulos said that USAID and UNOPS have admitted that they had failed to promote ideas the people of Cyprus did not want.
''Those who have received funds should give some explanation,'' he added.
A report on an evaluation of Cyprus' bicommunal development programme, commissioned by USAID, said that between 1998 and 2004 a grant of 60 million US dollars was made available through UNOPS. The report says that ''no effort was made to assess effectiveness and impact other than completion of agreed work''.
''Efforts to 'force' a certain level of NGO bicommunal contact and cooperation during the first three to four years of the bicommunal development programme, while heroic and well meaning, may have been premature and largely wasted,'' the report added.
It also notes the core questions grant recipients were asked when they applied for funding, which include the recipient's position on a referendum on the Annan plan.