President announces multi-million euro projects for free Famagusta area
08:02 - 20 October 2023
Projects worth several million euros in the Municipalities and Communities of the free Famagusta district have been announced by President Nikos Christodoulides, who underlined the government’s willingness to develop the area.
In his greeting at a 19 October evening gathering at Ayia Napa Marina on the proposed development programme of the Famagusta district for the period 2024-2029, Christodoulides referred to a number of projects in the free province of Famagusta, describing Paralimni Marina as an "important project.”
He said port works at Paralimni Marina were estimated to be completed in February 2024 and the land works in the summer of 2024. Furthermore, he said "that within 2025 the start of work on the construction of the new Paralimni High School, is planned while the Children's Day Care Centre is also in progress".
In addition to these, he continued, "there are projects with a total budget of approximately €20 million, which have already secured a budget through the ‘Thalia 2021 – 2027’ programme and which can begin immediately, once the procedures are completed and it is confirmed that they meet the requirements required by the ‘Thalia programme for co-financed projects'.
These projects concern, as he explained, "the regeneration in the centre of Paralimni, the creation of a Cultural Hall in Deryneia, the creation of the Multifunctional Park of Ayia Napa, the Linear Park in Acheritou, the construction of a new amphitheatre in the Community of Avgoros, the regeneration and shaping of an outdoor area of sports facilities in the Municipality of Sotira, the construction of a public sports area in the Community of Achnas and the construction of a local bypass road network in the ‘Kaminoudia’ area of the Municipality of Sotira."
Furthermore, the President continued, "the Kokkinokremmos water project has been included in the ‘Thalia’ Programme, which aims to satisfy the water needs of the free district of Famagusta and improve the reliability of the drinking water supply system. The project with a total budget of €29 million and the Department of Water Development just yesterday (Wednesday, 18 October) received the bids for the second tender for the supply of the pipes and fittings," he said and noted that "at the beginning of 2024 two new bids will be announced and it is expected that be completed in early 2026".
In his greeting, the President also referred to the new generation and said that he has already given instructions for the implementation of the Indoor Swimming Pool in Deryneia to begin, for the upgrading of the urban centre in Frenaros and for the maintenance of the sports centre in Paralimni. These are, as he said, "three important projects are expected to contribute the most to the healthy employment of young people in the free area of Famagusta, the promotion of sports tourism in the area as well as other economic activities."
At the same time, he also referred to the issue of road safety for both locals and visitors to the area, for which, as he said, "an overall plan is needed, since it is an important pillar" as many of the accidents that occur in the area are due to roadworks.
To address the problem of the road network, he continued, "Improvement projects amounting to almost €30 million are underway, which are expected to contribute to the upgrading of security in the area. At the same time, we are in dialogue with the various Agencies of the province for the planning of additional projects," he said.
The President referred to the improvement of the Liopetriou-Avgorou road, with an estimated value of €6 million, and the Deryneia-Frenaros project, a 3.5 kilometers long road, as projects that "can proceed."
He also mentioned "the improvement of the section of the old Larnaca - Famagusta road, 1.5 kilometres long, a project that began in May 2023 for an amount of €1.123 million. Also in the 2024 budget, the amount of €800,000 has been included to cover the costs of the project."
In addition, "an amount of €3.8 million, which is in the 2024 budget, concerns the periodic maintenance of the roads with a total length of 35 kilometers, in the free province of Famagusta. There is also the improvement of Kapparis Avenue in Paralimni as well as other projects that are in progress and the goal is that there will be no delay in their delivery."
President Christodoulides also referred to the issue of public transport for both tourists and locals and said that "it must be upgraded and strengthened. There is a specific plan for the matter and our goal is to improve the service provided with new low-emission buses, to provide facilities and information inside the bus and to extend the operating hours in tourist areas until the morning hours as well as to provide modern shelters and stops."
He added that "the contract for the construction and maintenance of new stops and shelters has been signed and the district of Famagusta is among the priorities for starting the installation of the new shelters."
At the same time, he also referred to the promotion of Cyprus’ history and cultural identity but also to the enrichment of the tourist product in general, noting that projects such as the renovation of the eight-story building in the Liopteri Community, the renovation of the square in Sotira and the renovation of the traditional centre of Paralimni are being promoted. Also, as he said, "Upgrading the accommodation infrastructure for the elderly and children with special needs in Liopetri and Paralimni is of particular importance and all this is progressing."
He also noted that for all four of these projects, "we are in the final stage of speeding up the procedures based on a specific schedule." In the next few days the government will approach the Communities to jointly define the timetable, he clarified.
President Christodoulides also asked those present "for their own commitment to this effort for the timely submission of the necessary studies."
In his address, Christodoulides said that "the work of the Government is based on the work of consultation with civil society. But the governance programme is constantly updated to reflect the emerging needs of citizens, (and) businesses since we are living in a constantly changing socio-economic environment and it affects all of us."
He added that "our goal is to improve the lives of the residents of the area and help to fully exploit the comparative advantages that the area has." It is a fact, he emphasised, "that the free province of Famagusta is an unfairly neglected district in terms of the support it has received from the state, especially if we compare it to the rest of the provinces of the rest of Cyprus".
He stated that "despite the fact that after the Turkish invasion of 1974, 85% of the district of Famagusta remains under occupation, the district not only survived but developed to such an extent that it contributes substantially to the economy of the country and the tourism product of Cyprus, providing a share of more than 30% of tourist arrivals in our country."
As a small sample of the recognition of this contribution, continued the President "As a Government, we aim to ensure the provision of substantial support to the district, the residents, and of course the business community."
After stating that "taking into account the current environment and the dependence of our country, we are a small country, an open economy that is greatly influenced by external factors." he noted that "we must constantly face the international, regional and extension the domestic challenges that arise. At the same time, we are called to adopt actions that strengthen the competitiveness and resilience of our economy, preserving the social fabric of our country".
President Christodoulides then pointed out that "it is not easy to deal with this challenge, it requires a clear plan, clear planning as well as fiscal responsibility but also determination and readiness for continuous and bold reforms."
In his address, the President of the Republic referred to the support measures for households and businesses, amounting to around €200 million, announced earlier that day, and said that the measures "which have been in place for months, constitute an important targeted intervention by the government towards creating a net of social welfare and solidarity, especially towards those of our fellow citizens who face multiple problems. In addition to the immediate support measures, the Government's medium-term interventions offer permanent and sustainable solutions for a drastic reduction in energy costs, on the one hand, which concerns us all, but for us it is a stake in affordable housing, which particularly affects the new generation in our country, (and) is the number one concern for young people in our country".
In addition, he emphasised that "we have the determination, the appetite and we work away from populism and wishful thinking with an open mind, away from approaches that may sound good to the ears, but are simple promises, so that we achieve development and prosperity for the whole of our country".
President Christodoulies also referred to "the recent double upgrade of the Cypriot economy and the return of the country's credit rating to investment grade, after 12 whole years, thanks to the continuous economic policy that was followed and we continue to follow. Our goal now, and this is what we must achieve, is to turn this important development, which is due first and foremost to the Cypriot people, into prospects and opportunities for new private investments and, by extension, good jobs."
At the same time, he continued, "our main priority is the targeted support of vulnerable groups, the strengthening of the middle class, which throughout time has been the backbone of the Cypriot economy, Cypriot society. He indicated that "the success of Cyprus in all the previous years is due to the fact that there was a strong middle class, which has now faced very serious challenges and is shrinking and, of course, the strengthening of our business activity".
Our main priorities and principles, the President underlined, "are clearly visible and can also be seen through the surplus budget that we submitted a few days ago. We are emphasising the real economy through development spending, which is up 15% compared to 2023, which is intended to improve competitiveness, improve productivity as well as employee benefits as a whole, while creating quality jobs".
Indicatively, the President of the Republic stated that "capital expenditures in relation to the 2023 budget have increased by €135 million and the approval of the budget by the Parliament will mark the start of the implementation of our strategic orientation for the next five years, based on very ambitious but realistic priorities, which will guide all our actions until 2028 always in line with the long-term strategy". He added that "Vision 2035, drawn up by the previous government, is being put into practice by us", noting that "when it comes to the economy, the development model of a country cannot be influenced by electoral cycles, you cannot change the development model of a country every five years when you have elections".
Addressing the audience, President Christodoulides said that "on the basis of the budget as well as the governance programme, many important projects are expected to be implemented in the free district of Famagusta, always with your own cooperation and your own contribution".
The President also reiterated that for him "it is a priority that the concern of the Government and for a country to move forward is the well-being of all citizens without exception. At the same time, state support should not be interpreted exclusively through the financing of infrastructure projects.”
In fact, he continued, “cooperation between local authorities and the Executive extends to many other areas. Equally important should be considered the structural reforms and policies to promote sustainable development that simplify procedures and strengthen the competitiveness of our country with a positive impact for all citizens, as well as the attraction of investments with all the positive effects of such a development."
He also noted that the measures announced on Thursday "also affect the free district of Famagusta, they will help to deal with many challenges and problems but will also give impetus to development".
Tourism in the free district of Famagusta
The President of the Republic also referred to the issue of tourism in the region and said that "our main goal is the further support and strengthening of the specific sector, on the occasion of the recent challenges we have to face due to the war in Israel, during the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In coordination with the organized groups of hoteliers, we are promoting specific measures to achieve what we have all wanted for 20 years but have not achieved, namely the extension of the tourist season together with addressing the important issue of staff shortages."
He referred to “the major policy change that has been decided recently, which is to stop subsidising unemployment and start subsidising work. We believe that this will have a positive impact, it will help in this effort to lengthen the tourist season," he said.
At the same time, he continued, "we will extend the Urban Development Incentives plan, a very correct plan of the previous Government, which expires at the end of 2023, while we will also continue the use of European funds for grant projects that will contribute both to the upgrading of infrastructure but and in the reduction of operating costs in the specific sector."
The President of the Republic referred to digital technology, the strengthening of the digital transition of businesses and the installation of photovoltaic systems in businesses, which was one of the measures announced today to support the people.
Regarding the attraction of health and wellness tourism, he said that "it was announced after the decision of the Council of Ministers, a plan regarding the financial support of hotels to make them accessible and friendly to people with any type of disability".
He also announced that "within a few days, a sponsorship plan will be announced for the upgrade of restaurants or shops selling traditional food products, which will be able to be utilised by the region as well".
Equally important for the Government, he continued, "is the establishment of the Tourism Promotion Advisory Body which will significantly contribute to the definition of policies, actions and actions, for the private and public sectors to work together to promote our country in a modern way as tourist destination. The full implementation of the new Local Government operating framework is expected to have a positive impact", he said and noted that "the ultimate goal is to create stronger and economically viable local authorities and organisations to provide better quality and more efficient services to citizens and expansion of visitors to the area".
I believe, continued the President, that "there are several challenges" with the establishment of the two new municipalities of the free districtof Famagusta, the Municipality of Ayia Napa and the Municipality of Paralimni - Deryneia.
In his greeting, President Christodoulides also referred to the new local plan for Paralimni, Ayia Napa and Deryneia, which "will be announced in the first quarter of 2024" which, he said, is an "important development".
Another issue that the President mentioned is the development of civilian areas within the British Bases and he said that "a process is underway, we are heading towards the final stage and we have to see how we can take advantage of it. It is something that I consider to some extent - not to the extent that we would like - can help the development of the region."
Finally, he said that "the important thing is that we recognise that the region must be strengthened, there must be a specific plan, there is a common will to provide the development needed in the free area of Famagusta, on the basis of the development plan and many other proposals that were mentioned. We must also look at the university units, but first, we must resolve the matter internally with State Health Services Organisation", he indicated and urged the local rulers to continue efforts.
The door of my office and of all the Ministers, he continued, "is always open to discuss, to find solutions, we are by your side, we approach you as partners and we will do everything possible to achieve the development of the region and the of our country, which has been under occupation for 49 years."
We are doing, he continued, "everything possible to reach the longed-for reunion. I hope that soon we will have announcements from the United Nations regarding the appointment of a personality who will explore the prospects of resuming talks. Despite the disagreements, the different approaches, we are fully ready within the framework of the dialogue, within the framework of the negotiations, to find solutions to the most difficult issues because without the solution of the Cyprus problem we cannot utilise all the potential of our country".
It is noted that the gathering was attended by, among others, the Ministers of Defence, Transport, Agriculture, the Deputy Ministers of Shipping and Tourism, the Bishop of Constantia and Famagusta, the Mayors of Famagusta, Paralimni, Ayia Napa, Sotira and Deryneia and the Mayors of Liopetri, Acherito - Vrysoulles, Frenarous, Avgorou, Dasaki Achnas, the Community Leader of Famagusta, the Police Chief and officials of Ministries and various Departments.