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Cyprus protest to UN over Turkish bid to turn historic monastery into hotel
2006-11-24 08:53:03

United Nations, Nov 23 – Cyprus has strongly protested to the UN the intention of the Turkish government to finance a project that aims to transform the annexes of the historic Apostolos Andreas Monastery into a 120-room hotel.

In a letter dated 14 November 2006 addressed to the Secretary-General, Permanent Representative of Cyprus to the United Nations Andreas Mavroyiannis says such developments aimed at destroying the character of a highly important religious and cultural landmark of Cyprus.

In his letter, Ambassador Mavroyiannis refers to the report in the Turkish Cypriot newspaper “Kibris” of 30 October 2006, which said the so-called “Chairman of the Aid Mission” of the purported “Embassy” in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus, has announced that Turkey is ready to provide 1.5 million new Turkish lira in financial aid for the restoration and reorganization of the surroundings and annexes of the Apostolos Andreas Monastery, in order to promote religious tourism in the area.

“The Government of the Republic of Cyprus strongly protests such developments aimed at destroying the character of a highly important religious and cultural landmark of Cyprus”, the Cypriot Representative also said.

It should be pointed out, he added, “that any unauthorized alterations to this historic religious site that disregard the restoration plans already undertaken by the Church of Cyprus, which is the lawful owner of the Monastery, will not only destroy its cultural and religious character but will also endanger the rest of the building”.

Mr. Mavroyiannis stressed that “even more gravely, it would constitute a blatant violation of international humanitarian law and of the law of armed conflict, which both stipulate with clarity the obligations of an occupying Power — in this case of the Republic of Turkey — in the field of property rights of the lawful owners of such properties”.

“Regrettably, this case would constitute, if it is not prevented, a deplorable addition to a series of similar cases, which demonstrate the direct involvement of Turkey in the unlawful exploitation of Greek Cypriot properties in the occupied area of the Republic of Cyprus”, the Cypriot diplomat remarked.

He noted that tangible proof of this illegal and politically irresponsible attitude of Turkey was provided recently by the “decision” of the “Council of Ministers” of the illegal regime which states that an “Advisor, who will be appointed by the Aid Mission of the Embassy of the Republic of Turkey in Nicosia” will be participating in a committee set up for the purpose of exploitation of properties for tourism in a number of Greek Cypriot villages in the occupied Karpasia peninsula.

Noting that the property issue is one of the most difficult elements of the Cyprus problem, Mavroyiannis pounted out that “Turkey must finally assume its responsibilities as the occupying power and abandon any involvement in the unlawful exploitation of Greek Cypriot properties”.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied the island’s northern third.

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