In November 1990, at a meeting of the representatives of the District Unions of Communities, which took place in Limassol, it was decided to create the Pancyprian Federation of Community Unions, a decision which materialised in February 1992 with its registration as an Association. In 1996, mainly for practical reasons, the General Assembly decided to rename it Cyprus Union of Communities.
The primary objective of the Union is to contribute to the reinforcement of the Local Self-Government institution, mainly by modernizing the existing legislations under which the Local Authorities in its Communities-Members are established and operate, either as Improvement Boards or Village Commissions.
This objective was achieved to a large extent for the 71 Improvement Boards with the 9 May 1997 amendment of article 6 of the Village (Administration and Improvement) Law and the assumption of the Presidency of the Improvement Boards by the Village Executive.
On 24 June 1999, the House of Representatives voted the Communities Law (N. 86 (I)/99) Law and on 9 July 1999 it came into force with its publication in the Official Gazette of the Republic, thus accomplishing the institutional modernisation of the Local Self-Government. With the enactment of the above Law, important changes are introduced in the administration system of the local administration authorities, such as the concentration of the administration powers of all the local affairs provided for by the above Law in the Councils, including those being before within the competence of the Improvement Boards, Village Authorities, Health Committees and Water Committees, which ceased to exist on the day the above Law came into force.
Furthermore, since its establishment, the Union has developed a multiform and multilateral activity for the protection and service of the well-intended interests of the Communities and their inhabitants. To promote this aim, the Union has made every effort to obtain financial assistance for the Communities and secure the participation of their elected representatives in the decision taking centres, so that their voice is also heard where the decisions are reached.
Undoubtedly, the participation of the Cyprus Union of Communities in the remarkable progress really achieved in the last years in the area of Local Self-Government was important.
The Local Self-Government has to play its own important role in the difficult times our homeland goes through, at the threshold of the 21st century and in view of the big challenges of our times, one step before our adhesion to the European Union. Our mission in the new rapidly changing conditions is both to develop our Communities and improve the standard of living of our inhabitants. The Cyprus Union of Communities will continue to play its role constructively as a collective organ and the representative of the Communities abroad and inland. In this effort, the further active involvement of the elected representatives of the Communities in the collective organs, as well as the participation of the plain citizens in the activities it realises, are an indispensable act that will strengthen substantially its force and its voice, so as to become more effective in its demands and be able to take up the big challenges that are in front of us.
The present document describes in general lines the historical background of the Union and its main activities since its foundation.
Since its foundation, the Cyprus Union of Communities has aimed at solving the problems the municipalities face daily, both at an institutional and financial level, and it struggles for the rationalistic development of the communities, the improvement of its inhabitants’ standard of living, putting forward motives encouraging them to stay in the communities and especially in the mountainous and remote areas, in order to limit and dissuade rural depopulation.
The Union of Communities does its utmost to influence the formation of the policy at the stage of study and formulation of governmental positions, so that the final decision taking embodies its views. It is therefore in continuous communication and has contacts with the competent ministries and other organisms, as well as with the House of Representatives. One of the Union’s important functions is the representation of Communities abroad through the participation in international organs of local self-government and through its representation at various local and international congresses. Among others, the Union of Communities also endeavours to achieve further collaboration between the communities, a fact that will turn out to the advantage of communities themselves, especially as regards its finances. To this effect, it organises evening parties and other district and regional activities, to enable the presidents and members of the communities to meet and exchange views, experiences and opinions about community issues and further develop their relations.
The Union is also intensely active in the organisation of training conferences designed for the presidents, members and secretaries of the local authorities, especially on subjects concerning the European Union and legislations. Indeed, the action of the Union is intense and multidimensional, as it deals with all the issues and problems the Communities are concerned with and face. It makes continuous efforts to solve the numerous problems the communities encounter every day, both on an institutional and financial level, and it struggles for the rationalistic development of the communities, the improvement of their inhabitants’ standard of living, putting forward motives encouraging them to stay in the communities and especially in the mountainous and remote areas, in order to limit and dissuade rural depopulation. Generally, it promotes the statutory aims of its foundation, which are the defence and promotion of the powers, interests, rights and privileges of the members and, generally; the independence and self-sufficiency of the local authorities of the country.
At the meeting of the village authorities which took place in Limassol in 1981, in order to discuss and deal with some issues, the necessity was felt to organise the communities, both at a regional and Pancyprian level, to deal jointly with the multiple problems they encounter. Later, in 1988, first in the district of Limassol and afterwards in the districts of Larnaca, Nicosia, Paphos and in the unoccupied area of Famagusta, the constitutional congresses of the Regional Unions of Communities took place, by which temporary councils were elected with the mission to organise electoral congresses and the registration of the Unions. They were followed by the electoral congresses by which the first administrative councils of the Regional Unions of Communities were elected. According to the relative provision of their statutes, they were composed by nine members, the president, the vice-president, the secretary general, the treasurer and five members.
During the following months, the administrative councils of the Regional Unions of Communities organised both congresses on a regional level and joint meetings and congresses of all the Regional Unions at a Pancyprian level. At the joint meetings and congresses, the need was ascertained for the establishment of a supreme collective organ for the representation of the Regional Unions of Communities and, by extent, of all the communities, dealing in a responsible way with the common problems the communities face, both at an institutional and financial level and always struggling for the rationalistic development of the communities. This action was considered to be necessary, it formed a subject of discussions, negotiations, meetings of the councils and Regional Unions of Communities, which took place from 1988 to 1990. A final decision for the establishment of the supreme collective organ of the local authorities of the communities with the name of Pancyprian Federation of Unions of Communities, was taken in November 1990 at a meeting that took place in Limassol and at which all the Regional Unions of Communities were represented by their presidents and treasurers, who composed the first temporary administrative council of the Federation under establishment.
The first concern of the Federation was the assumption of its essential role as a collective organ of defence and service of the interests of the communities, to constitute the means of information and exchange of useful views and experiences, to enable the Village Executives and the members of the local authorities of the Communities to face the various problems appearing daily in almost all the communities.
Among the priorities of the Union were, from the beginning, the financial self-sufficiency and self-administration of the Rural Local Self-Government Organisms and the involvement of the elected local authorities in the decision taking centres for issues concerning the communities. They succeeded with much labour : the Federation, the Government and the House of Representatives recognised its essential role and, as a collective organ, it started to be invited in all the committees dealing with issues concerning the Communities. This resulted in the increase and extension of the Federation’s activities and volume of work. Thus, the Federation went on and rented offices in Nicosia and, in July 1993, it engaged Mr. Panayiotis Damianou as secretary of the Federation. In October 1994, a Statutory Congress took place in Agros, with a new Administrative Council which had been previously elected at the elections of the Regional Unions of Communities. At this congress it was decided to rename the Pancyprian Federation of Unions of Communities and give it the name Cyprus Union of Communities.