Lobby for Cyprus is a non-party-political human rights organisation campaigning for a reunited Cyprus.
Print this page Print Bookmark and Share
Media Watch 2007

27 April 2007
Source: Cyprus Weekly
Author:
Comment: The following article appeared in the Cyprus Weekly of Nicosia on 27 April 2007.
Bases cash issue 'complex' - Tassos
"THE government has taken on board a motion passed by parliament urging Nicosia to make representations to Britain over London's refusal to pay for maintaining two large sovereign military bases on the island."

"THE government has taken on board a motion passed by parliament urging Nicosia to make representations to Britain over London's refusal to pay for maintaining two large sovereign military bases on the island.

However, President Papadopoulos has said there is no quick-fix solution to a "complex and difficult" legal and political issue.

''And I am not sure that everybody knows what this claim actually entails, to others it may seem simple but there are very serious legal, practical and certainly political complications,'' Papadopoulos said in reaction to last House resolution.

The government appears non-committal on the issue with Government Spokesman Christodoulos Pashardes saying Nicosia would take an official stance when it thought the "time was right" to raise such issues with Britain.

"The content of the resolution is being examined by the government, in connection with studies and rulings that have been made in the past, to ascertain if there is any new element," said Pashardes.
"The government respects and takes into very serious consideration the unanimous will of the House," he added.

How much Cyprus is owed and whether Britain is obliged to pay has been a long-standing issue between the fellow European Union member states.

And the British High Commission says Nicosia has not brought the matter up officially in recent years.

"We are satisfied that Britain has fulfilled all its financial obligations to the Republic of Cyprus under the Treaty of Establishment," High Commission spokesman Nigel Boud told The Cyprus Weekly.

Parliament last week said that Cyprus must demand an amount estimated to be tens of millions of pounds or take the matter to court if it is not paid.

The unanimous vote also described Britain's non-payment as tantamount to violating the treaty of independence that freed Cyprus from British colonial rule in 1960.

Cyprus received financial aid of £12mfrom Britain between 1960 and 1965, according to official records, but London is adamant "this has nothing to do" with its key military installations.

Boud said there was no commitment from Britain to give financial assistance after 1965 but only to review the issue that took a back seat after intercommunal violence flared during that period.

Moreover, Britain argues that financial aid ceased after the inter-communal violence in 1963-64 meant there was no guarantee that both communities would benefit due to the "constitutional crisis".

Edek socialist party leader Yiannakis Omirou, who tabled the motion, said Britain had agreed to pay for its military facilities in the form of financial assistance to Cyprus to be reviewed every five years.

"The government should proceed with political and diplomatic steps towards Britain to pay the amount... if there is another rejection there would be no other avenue than to appeal before the international courts," he told parliament.

Deputies also condemned "the illegal arrest" of MEP Marios Matsakis at a British military base last week during an official visit by a European parliament delegation.

Matsakis was released from British custody on April 14 after going on a two-day hunger strike.

Cyprus protested to Britain over his arrest and detention, and the government was unhappy that the European Commission did not take a tougher stand over the incident.

Coincidentally, Britain's Europe Minister, Geoff Hoon, was on the island this week as part of a "fence-mending" initiative that began last year"