PAPHOS – Six years after Cyprus approved cremation, the country’s first crematorium is due to start use by 2024 after applications for its construction were approved by the environment department.
The project will be done by M.W Crematorium Cyprus, at an estimated cost of 2.2 million euros ($2.11 million) and a timeline to build from 18-24 months and is slated for a spot in Ayia Varvara in Paphos.
The ministry found no problem there, said The Cyprus Mail in a report about years of setbacks for those wanting the option of cremation that faced opposition from the Orthodox Church, which said it wanted to “preserve holy tradition.”
Cremation as an option is especially the choice of many expatriates on the island, it was noted, with a shortage of cemetery plots and the high cost of sending a body back to the homeland and added problems.
Since 2016, Cyprus and Malta have been the only European Union members without a crematorium and the Church’s argument – it could also lose out financially if people don’t get buried – said relatives wouldn’t be able to visit resting places.
A private initiative cremation backer who didn’t want to be identified told the paper in October, 2021 that once it would begin that, “we think that there will be approximately 60 cremations carried out per month and we believe it will be popular with most nationalities and religions.”
The 2016 legislation stipulates that those wanting to be cremated must register their preference in life, and not after death by their relatives, and to have expressed it as their exclusive right.
A private Cyprus-based initiative told the Cyprus Mail in 2021 that the facility would meet the demands of the thousands of mostly foreign expats who have wanted for years to have the option of cremation allowed.
“One resident identified only as a 34-year-old named Alex, who lived in Paphos and was a businessman, told the paper of the need.
“My family is against cremation as they say the Greek Orthodox religion does not allow it, but it makes sense to me as cemeteries are overcrowded and, in most cases, it can be a greener option,” he said.
“Costs for families would be less too. No headstones, no unkempt graves, and families can take their loved-one’s ashes anywhere in the world,” he said of more reasons for allowing cremation.