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Media Watch 2005

19 April 2005
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Leo Leonidou
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 20 April 2005.
Government refuses to recognise elected Kormakitis mukhtar
" “The policy, originally, was to get rid of the Maronites ...Now that the Turkish Cypriot authorities realise that eventually they will die off, they leave them in peace.” In 1974, thousands of Maronites streamed across the Green Line, leaving their homeland for an uncertain future in the south after Turkish troops invaded northern Cyprus. “1974 turned the whole community into refugees,” said Antonis Hajji Roussos, the Maronite parliamentary representative. “Gradually, everyone left and only the old people remained.”"

THE MINISTRY of the Interior yesterday refused to recognise the appointment of Ilias Ioannou Papa as mukhtar of Kormakitis village in the occupied areas.

Demetris Demetriou, administrative officer at the Ministry’s Central Election Department, said: “this election is illegal and is not recognised by the Republic of Cyprus. In our eyes, Ioannis Tsoutsoukis, is the village’s mukhtar.”

Demetriou was responding after Sunday’s elections in the occupied areas, which saw villagers in Kormakitis eligible to vote for a new mukhtar for the first time since the invasion.
According to reports from the north, 66 per cent of villagers voted, of whom 97 per cent voted for Papas.

Last week, the Council of Ministers, following a suggestion from Interior Minister, Andreas Christou, appointed Tsoutsoukis as mukhtar.

When asked what would happen if both men refused to acknowledge each other, Demetriou said: “We hope it does not come down to this and will cross this bridge if and when we come to it.”
Government Spokesman Kypros Chrystostomides echoed Demetriou’s comments, saying, “there is an illegal community leader in Kormakitis, who of course cannot be recognised by the Cyprus government.”

It’s believed the villagers are seeking to appeal to the European courts, to which Chrystostomides responded: “Every Cypriot citizen has the right to appeal for what they believe is right, either in a local or a European court.”

Christou released a statement later yesterday, saying: “We’ll see how things develop and will speak with representatives of the community, but this situation has arisen due to the insistence of some not to accept the government’s decision. We have previously appointed dozens of other community leaders in other occupied villages without any problems. In the end, I think the community will realise that their interests lie in co-operating with the government, in order to solve various long-standing problems.”

Kormakitis is a spread-out village, most of whose residents are in their seventies. It is buffeted by the sea on one side and enclosed by a yellow-green plain on the other. Once the bustling heart of the Maronite community, Kormakitis today has been stripped to a ghost town by a generation of emigrants to the more prosperous Greek Cypriot South.

“The policy, originally, was to get rid of the Maronites,” said Marios Mavrides, a Maronite historian of the community who lives and works in Nicosia but who every week makes the 20-minute car journey to the land where he was born.

“Now that the Turkish Cypriot authorities realise that eventually they will die off, they leave them in peace.”

In 1974, thousands of Maronites streamed across the Green Line, leaving their homeland for an uncertain future in the south after Turkish troops invaded northern Cyprus.

“1974 turned the whole community into refugees,” said Antonis Hajji Roussos, the Maronite parliamentary representative. “Gradually, everyone left and only the old people remained.”"