Turkish Cypriots are set to receive financial boost to the tune of €31.6 million to help towards the cost of key infrastructure projects and for environmental protection. The funding from the European Union is in addition to the €5 million that was approved earlier this year.
The latest announcement, made by the EU Commission on Wednesday, 25 August, is part of a long-term commitment by the European bloc to support projects that “facilitate the reunification of Cyprus”.
Commenting on the second Annual Action Programme for North Cyprus, the EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms Elisa Ferreira (pictured above) said:
“Projects under the Aid Programme aim to improve infrastructure, support economic development, foster reconciliation, and bring Turkish Cypriots closer to the EU. I am confident that they will contribute to efforts for a reunification of Cyprus, which is one of the main goals of our assistance.”
Part of the multi-million euro aid programme will be spent on the improvement of the electricity grid in the Turkish Republic of North Cyprus (TRNC), and for an economic stimulus package to offset the crisis brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
The EU says the money will be used “for improving food safety, the provision of statistical data, special needs education and lifelong learning.”
There is financial aid too for the Committee on Missing Persons and the Technical Committee on Cultural Heritage under the EU’s commitment to “building confidence between the Turkish and Greek communities in Cyprus”. Civil society groups focussed on “island-wide cooperation” will also continue to receive funding, so they can “inspire further bi-communal activities.”
The new pledge brings the total aid from the EU for Turkish Cypriots since 2006 to €591 million. The amount is a fraction of the aid provided by Turkey to the TRNC over the same period.
In May of this year, TRNC Prime Minister Ersin Tatar and Turkey’s Vice-President Fuat Oktay signed a financial protocol for 2020 worth 2.3 billion TL, or €322 million.
Turkey has also provided additional aid to North Cyprus during the Covid-19 crisis, including assistance in building a new pandemic hospital.
Main picture top, of Elisa Ferreira, the EU Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, photo © European Union 2019 – Source: EP, CC-BY-4.0, Wikimedia