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Media Watch 2005

08 March 2005
Source: Cyprus Mail
Author: Stefanos Evripidou
Comment: The following editorial appeared in the Cyprus Mail of Nicosia on 8 March 2005.
EDEK sets sights on British Bases
"EDEK honorary chairman Vassos Lyssarides fired a warning shot to Britain yesterday that its actions were not going unnoticed on the non-payment of rent for use of the British Bases on the island and the pressure applied over the Annan plan... Cyprus had international law and the European courts at its disposal to question whether Britain has kept to its obligations from the Treaty of Establishment... “this behaviour does not go unnoticed, that this Parliament has sensitivities and will discuss all the legal means at its disposal to defend against such a hostile policy from a country that is responsible for our troubles, even though it took on the responsibility to protect the integrity and security of Cyprus and enjoys so many benefits from Cyprus.”... “Blackmailing that they would punish the people with separate economic relations with the breakaway state,” he said... Failure to protect the integrity and security of Cyprus “constitutes a violation of the Treaty of Establishment and Guarantee,” said Lyssarides... “Regarding the position of the Bases, I do not have to say that under international law no country is permitted sovereignty over land that is beyond their borders,” he added... all agreements were binding and called on Britain to keep to its obligations."

EDEK honorary chairman Vassos Lyssarides fired a warning shot to Britain yesterday that its actions were not going unnoticed on the non-payment of rent for use of the British Bases on the island and the pressure applied over the Annan plan.

The EDEK deputy said Cyprus had international law and the European courts at its disposal to question whether Britain has kept to its obligations from the Treaty of Establishment, the legal basis for the Bases.

Speaking after a joint meeting of the House Legal and Foreign Affairs Committees, Lyssarides said: “The first aim is for the English to understand that this behaviour does not go unnoticed, that this Parliament has sensitivities and will discuss all the legal means at its disposal to defend against such a hostile policy from a country that is responsible for our troubles, even though it took on the responsibility to protect the integrity and security of Cyprus and enjoys so many benefits from Cyprus.”

Foreign Minister George Iacovou and Attorney General Solon Nikitas were also present at the meeting, held behind closed doors at the behest of Nikitas.

Iacovou said that now was not the time to open up new fronts against Britain, stating that Cyprus needed more friends and fewer enemies to operate in the international field successfully.

Lyssarides initiated yesterday’s debate on the legal and political aspects of the Bases, after failing to get all-round support for discussing the issue in Parliament last July.

The honorary chairman said the negative role played by Britain in Cyprus had turned provocative as of late, referring to pressure applied on the people to accept a plan, which they rejected.

“Blackmailing that they would punish the people with separate economic relations with the breakaway state,” he said.

Failure to protect the integrity and security of Cyprus “constitutes a violation of the Treaty of Establishment and Guarantee,” said Lyssarides.

“Regarding the position of the Bases, I do not have to say that under international law no country is permitted sovereignty over land that is beyond their borders,” he added.

Iacovou took a tone of diplomatic expediency on the issue. “It is a fact that we have some problems right now with the positions of Britain in the EU and generally on the Cyprus problem, but the government does not believe it should enter into conflict with Britain.”

The minister said all agreements were binding and called on Britain to keep to its obligations.

He added that the agreements with the British were contested in the 1960s but to no avail. “That is why we face the challenge with soberness and are trying, without losing our courage,” he said.

Iacovou acknowledged that an opinion by the Attorney General had ruled that the Brits maintained sovereignty over the Bases from the Treaty of Establishment.

Asked if there was the option of recourse to European courts to seek rent arrears or rights of Cypriots living on Bases territory, Iacovou said, like any court, it was difficult to predict what they would decide.

The founding treaties included a conflict resolution process to deal with such issues, which was not applicable because Turkey does not recognise the Cyprus Republic, said Iacovou.
Lyssarides continued that Britain wrongly claimed to have sovereignty over the Bases area and wrongly used Cypriot land without paying the agreed sum in rent, apart from the first five years after 1960.

The honorary chairman said he would state his proposal for a resolution in parliament after the committees concluded their discussion on the Bases issue.

Asked if it was unwise to open a second front against Britain, he replied: “The front exists, we are under attack and defending ourselves and it is certainly not our intention to draw the sword where it is not needed. But when you are under threat of attack, it would be naïve not to respond,” said Lyssarides."