|Dom Research Center||News Clippings: Cyprus|
Pledge on Gypsy housing site
in Cyprus Weekly, February 8-14, 2001
By Menelaos Hadjicostis
THE government this week assured that planned construction of a CYP350,000 prefabricated housing
complex near Kofinou to lodge Gypsies would neither restrict their right to choose where they want to live, nor create undue problems
for area residents. Government Spokesman Michalis Papapetrou said as long as the Gypsies are Cypriot citizens, they have free reign
over where they choose to live, as long as they have the means to either rent a house, or find other appropriate accommodation to their
liking. "If this, however, is not possible, then the government will try to find an appropriate place to house them until this matter is finally
resolved," said Papapetrou.
Government sources told The Cyprus Weekly that the housing complex with an approximate capacity of 150 people will come complete with all the amenities including, televisions, showers, ovens and a children's playground. Interior Minister Christodoulos said the complex is slated for completion within the next six months. Kofinou residents have voiced strong objections to construction of the complex amid concerns that an influx of Gypsies to the area would distress their community. Stepping in to allay those concerns, Christodoulou said that although the residents' objections are understandable, they are, nonetheless, a product of "misinformation". "No one should doubt the government's ability and willingness to solve problems and address any pressing concerns," said Christodoulou who offered to meet personally with Kofinou residents if their disapproval over the plan persisted.
Christodoulou made the pledge following a tour of Limassol's decrepit Turkish Cypriot quarter where dozens of Gypsy families are currently living, along with approximately 2,200 Greek Cypriot refugees. The Interior Minister announced that the quarter would be extensively revamped as part of a CYP400,000 parliament-approved rehabilitation plan, as well as an immediate CYP5,000 cash injection to clean up the area. Christodoulou added that at least seven run-down houses declared uninhabitable will be torn down immediately and the large Gypsy families living there relocated to more appropriate lodgings. Some 290 Gypsies are currently living in the government areas, 220 of whom are receiving a state allowance each fortnight which is divided up according to status and age. Christodoulou had previously warned that Gypsies would forgo the allowances if they fail to either stay put in allocated homes or pick up jobs that are found for them.
Meanwhile, representatives of Greek Pontians living on the island denied reports that they are in the process of founding, a political party dubbed "Second Motherland". The reports prompted Papapetrou to declare that all Greek Cypriot citizens, irrespective of ethnic origin, are accorded full rights under the Constitution, including the right to found parties. "However, all those who are not Cypriot citizens of course can neither found, nor be members of a political party," said Papapetrou. Of the approximately 12,000 Pontians currently living on the island, over 80% are Greek passport holders while only a handful have Cypriot citizenship.
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