Through the EEA and Norway Grants, Norway is helping to facilitate dialogue between the two communities on the divided island of Cyprus. A large proportion of the funds provided in the period up to 2014 are earmarked for civil society support. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed in Nicosia this afternoon.
“The physical division of the island is hardly conducive to fostering dialogue and understanding between the two communities. Through the EEA and Norway Grants, Norway will continue efforts to forge contacts between north and south at grass-roots level. Such dialogue could help Cyprus to find a solution to this protracted conflict in the long term,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.
Cyprus will receive NOK 62 million through the EEA and Norway Grants in the period up to 2014. About 25% of this amount is earmarked for civil society support. A separate Fund for Non-Governmental Organisations will be set up, which will give priority to projects involving both the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot communities.
Funding will continue to be given to the Home for Cooperation Centre. The centre, which was established with Norwegian support during the previous grant period, is located in the UN-controlled buffer zone in the capital, Nicosia.
The centre is a unique meeting place for the two communities and offers a number of activities, such as exhibitions, research and education, as well as office space for NGOs from both sides. In the new round of EEA and Norway Grants, the centre will receive funding for a project designed to initiate a dialogue on a syllabus for teaching history in the north and the south.
In addition to allocations for NGOs and civil society, funds have been earmarked for programmes in a number of sectors in which Norwegian partners are also involved. For example, the Norwegian Crisis Centre Secretariat has been commissioned to participate in establishing a crisis centre for abused women and children.
Funding is being provided to upgrade the Cyprus Bone Marrow Donor Registry and intensify efforts to combat money laundering. Funds are also being allocated for measures to conserve the biological diversity of the Troodos National Park.
The funding provided via the EEA and Norway Grants is Norway’s contribution to reducing social and economic disparities in Europe. The Grants are also intended to strengthen cooperation between Norway and the beneficiary states. Around NOK 14 billion is available under the Grants for the period up to 2014. Norway is providing 97% of this amount, while Iceland and Liechtenstein are providing the rest.