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The EU Programme Support Office held a press briefing

Source: BRT  
21 November 2006

The European Union Programme Support Office, established to supervise the implementation of the EU Financial Aid Regulation for North Cyprus, held a press briefing this afternoon to provide information on the objectives, priorities and challenges regarding the Aid Programme for the Turkish Cypriot Side.

The press briefing was held by the head of the Turkish Cypriot Community Task Force Andrew Rasbash, a competent from the Commission Alessandra Viezzer and the Head of the Support Office Alain Bothorell.

A wide range of projects were presented to the press where improving the infrastructure, social and economic development, fostering reconciliation including confidence building measures, bringing the Turkish Cypriot community closer to the EU and helping the Turkish Cypriot community to implement the Acquis Communaitre are described as prior objectives.

Speaking at the briefing, Mr. Alessandra Viezzer stressed that financial aid was not the first priority of the Task Force, but was only the first step towards helping ease the international isolation of the Turkish Cypriot People.

He added that the overreaching objective is to facilitate the reunification of Cyprus.

She expressed the belief that local communities, villages, non-governmental organizations and business organizations are among those to be affected positively from the implementation of financial assistance.

She also noted that the programming on the projects of the Support Office have been completed and are ready to be implemented.

Referring to possible challenges and constraints during the implementation of projects funded by the EU, she said that the Commission is concerned about ensuring the long-term sustainability of investments.

The Commission official stated that efficient aid absorption could be a challenge for the Turkish Cypriot Side because of its size and underlined the need for increasing the human resources capacity in North Cyprus.

For his part, the Head of the Support Office Alain Bothorell gave information about the current staff in the Office and said that the administrative staff is mostly composed of Turkish Cypriots.

Stressing that the implementation of the projects will be centralized from Brussels, Mr Bothorell stated that there are 3 years to obligate the funds, finalize and sign contracts.

He added that the United Nations Development Program will also be given money to implement certain projects.

Answering reportersí questions, the head of the Turkish Cypriot Community Task Force Andrew Rasbash stated that recycling the savings into other additional projects might be possible in the future.

Mr Rasbash also said that the EU office will be in close contact and collaboration, with the Prime Ministerís Office for co-ordinating EU Affairs regarding the projects.

The Head of the Turkish Cypriot Community Task Force added that both Turkish Cypriot and EU companies are eligible to apply for the implementation of projects.

On Thursday, the High Level Contact Group will meet with the representatives of the Cyprus Turkish Chamber of Commerce at a working lunch.

The Greek Cypriot Chamber of Commerce and Industry will also attend the meeting as guest of the Cyprus Turkish Chamber of Commerce.

In a written statement earlier issued by the head of the Contact Group- Francoise Grossetete, it is reminded that this is the third visit being paid by the Contact Group to Cyprus for contacts with political parties, non-governmental organizations and students both in North and South Cyprus.

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