Summary: 8 July 2009, Burlington – The European Commission today approved the annual report for 2008 on the implementation of the aid programme for the Turkish Cypriot community. The aid programme aims to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus by encouraging the economic development of the Turkish Cypriot community with particular emphasis on the economic integration of the island, on improving contacts between the two communities and with the EU, and on preparation for the EU's legal order. €259 million is available to implement the programme over the period 2006-2011.
Funds1 can be used for investment to help meet EU standards in areas such as water supply, waste water treatment, solid waste management, energy supply and telecommunications. Grants are given to a wide range of recipients: students and teachers, NGOs, farmers, small businesses, schools, villages. Technical expertise is made available to Turkish Cypriots to help them better understand and prepare for the implementation of EU rules following reunification. Reconciliation measures are supported.
Following the adoption of the report Commissioner Rehn said: “I am pleased that the EU's assistance for the Turkish Cypriot community has started to deliver real benefits on the ground: students and teachers receive support to spend one year abroad, and grants are being provided to farmers, civil society organisations, schools, villages and small and medium sized enterprises. Thanks to the Aid Programme the Turkish Cypriot community will be better prepared for the day of reunification. The Commission remains strongly committed to the ongoing settlement talks and supports the efforts of the leaders of the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities."
In the course of 2008 contracts worth €37 million were signed in all of these areas and €13 million was disbursed. By the end of May 2009 the total amount contracted reached € 84.5 million and the total amount disbursed €38.5 million. Remaining funds must be contracted before the end of 2009, although implementation can follow in later years; tenders and calls for proposals have now been launched covering all of the remaining funds.
Examples of projects implemented in 2008 include village improvement projects, scholarships for 122 students and teachers to study in other EU member states, 13 grants to schools and 26 grants to farmers to improve milk refrigeration and collection. Support was given to mine clearance off the buffer zone and the EU was the single biggest donor to the Committee on Missing Persons. 220 seminars and workshops on the “EU's legal order” were given to Turkish Cypriot experts.
The aid programme is implemented by the Commission, either directly, through a dedicated programme team, or in collaboration with UNDP and other international organisations.
1 The programme is based on Council Regulation n°389/2006