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MEPs pressure north over Karpas power plan

By Simon Bahceli
TWO Green MEPs yesterday called for urgent measures to be taken to prevent a continued chaotic building spree in the north of the island, and warned against the Turkish Cypriot authoritys plan to add the eastern tip of the Karpas peninsula to the electricity grid something the two said was intended to pave the way for huge foreign investments aimed at developing a mass tourist resort.

The warning was delivered by co-President of the Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament Monica Frassoni, and Foreign Affairs Committee member Cem Ozdemir in a report delivered to EU Commssioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn and Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas. It followed a two-day fact-finding visit to the island earlier this month.

Environmentalists in the north had told Frassoni and Ozdemir they were greatly concerned about the authoritys plans to take electricity supplies to the area beyond Rizokarpaso, the easternmost village on the island, to the tip of Cape Andreas. They also told the two they were demanding to know why there were plans for the provision of an 11,000 volt supply an amount of electricity, they say, that could satisfy the needs of around 15,000 people when there currently existed no more than a handful of small-scale camp sites and restaurants, and almost no residencies in the area.

The warning was welcomed by the Friends of the Karpas pressure groups project co-ordinator Osman Kalfaoglu, who told the Cyprus Mail yesterday he was glad the issue has been brought to the attention of the commissioners.

What remains to be seen, though, is what Rehn and Dimas are willing or able to do, Kalfaoglu said. He questioned whether the EU could do anything to help, considering the fact that northern Cyprus remains outside EU law.

They could simply tell us their hands are tied, he said, adding a call on Greek Cypriot MEPs not to block any potential initiatives.

If the EU can find any way, financially or otherwise, to help preserve this beautiful and ecologically-diverse area, it would not be wise for them to block it. If they do, the area could be lost forever, Kalfaoglu warned.

Speaking of alternative ways of bringing limited power to existing small-scale enterprises in the area, he said, We have a project for installing solar energy systems. If we could get funding for this, the government would not be able to insist on implementing its plan. Kalfaoglu added: If it then continued to insist, it would be clear that they are planning some kind of mass tourism development.

The norths authority appears to be insistent that its plans will go ahead. Making matter more complicated, the plans have proved popular with local residents. A recent meeting between a conglomeration of environmental groups and villagers ended in heated argument, with locals accusing the environmentalists of seeking to inhibit development in the area. The Rizokarpaso mayor Mehmet Demirci recently told the Cyprus Mail that youngsters were leaving the village in their droves because of a lack of employment possibilities in the area.

Thousands of people come to the Karpas, but no one stays overnight because we dont have hotels that can house them comfortably, he said, adding that if electricity supplies were provided, existing hotels would be able to power heating and air conditioning systems that would help them meet the expectations of tourists, and thereby create employment.

The two MEPs appeared to address this issue in a press statement on Thursday, when they said they were making it clear that they are not against the development of tourism in the Turkish Cypriot part, but that they were keen to highlight that lessons should be learnt from the mistakes made in the southern part and in many other Mediterranean islands and countries.
Cyprus Mail 14/7/2007




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