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British Bases Not Wanted In Cyprus - Spokesman

akrotiri base to stayThe government's position on the Sovereign Bases is that it wants the UK to move its military bases off the island in a move towards demilitarisation, said government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou in comments to Sigma TV.

His comment comes in response to British bases Commander G.E. Stacey who was quoted by Cyprus News Agency as saying that Britain does not have any plans to abandon the three Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) it has in Akrotiri, Dekhelia and Episkopi. The SBAs continue to be a crucial part of the UK's military infrastructure and operations, said Stacey.

“Although the number of personnel is smaller than in the past, the Bases maintain a very important operational focus,” said Stacey, who adds that cooperation with the government is 'good', in contrast to Stefanou's comments.
The UK claims SBA territory under treaties signed in 1960, when Cyprus gained its independence from its former coloniser Great Britain. It has the right to fly in Cyprus airspace, to install communications and electronics systems and used the bases in its recent military operation in Libya.

The bases are an old bone of contention between the UK and Republic of Cyprus, with the government demanding rent and other fees for immovable property included in the territory. With the government's current financial problems, Stefanou's comments could be a way to pressure the UK to start paying rent and contribute to government coffers.

Some analysts say that the bases serve to keep a delicate balance of military power in the Eastern Mediterranean but critics point to a type of pseudo colonialism with the UK claiming sovereign territory in another country.

The UK has offered to give up some of its sovereignty over the bases as part of a solution to the Cyprus problem.

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