Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia
in Cyprus |
532. Cyprus is the third largest island in the
Mediterranean, situated some 40 miles south of Turkey, 60 miles
west of the Syrian coast and 220 miles north of Port Said in Egypt.
It has a land area of 9,251 square kilometres and a total population
of about 790,000.
533. Cyprus is divided as a result of an attempted
coup in 1974 and the occupation of the northern part of the island
by Turkey that followed. The island has been divided for 30 years
by a United Nations buffer zone known as the "Green Line".
HMG recognises only the government of the Republic of Cyprus,
which administers the southern two-thirds of the island, but not
the so-called "Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus"
(recognised as such only by Turkey).
534. The Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) of Akrotiri
and Dhekelia, usually referred to as Western Sovereign Base Area
(WSBA) and Eastern Sovereign Base Area (ESBA), are those parts
of the island which have remained under British jurisdiction since
the creation of an independent Republic of Cyprus in 1960.
535. Under the 1960 Treaty of Establishment,
HMG retained sovereignty over the SBAs, which cover 3% of the
land area of Cyprus, a total of 98 square miles (47.5 at Akrotiri
and 50.5 at Dhekelia). However, HMG does not own most of the land.
About 60% is privately owned and intensively farmed. Only 20%
is MoD-owned land, with the remaining 20% being SBA Crown land
(including forests, roads, rivers and Akrotiri Salt Lake (7%)).
536. In addition to the Sovereign Bases themselves,
the Treaty of Establishment also provides for the continued use
by the British Government of certain facilities within the Republic
of Cyprus, known as Retained Sites, and for the use of specified
training areas in the Republic of Cyprus.
537. The boundaries of the SBAs were drawn to
include the major military installations on the ground and to
exclude villages and towns. There are three Republican "enclaves"
within the Dhekelia SBA - Ormidhia, Xylotymbou and Dhekelia power
station. However, as a result of the coup of 1974 and other developments
over the years, about 7,000 Cypriots now live in the SBAs. In
addition, approximately 7,800 military and UK-based civilian personnel
and their dependants work or live on the Bases.
538. The SBAs are retained as military bases
- not "colonial " territories. This is the basic philosophy
of their administration as stated by HMG in 1960 in the policy
declaration usually known as 'Appendix O'. This stated that the
policy objectives for the administration of the areas were to
- Effective use of the SBAs as
- Full co-operation with the Republic of Cyprus;
- Protection of the interests of those resident
or working in the SBAs.
539. Under the Treaty of Establishment, the Bases
remain Sovereign British Territory under the Crown until "the
Government of the United Kingdom, in view of changes in their
military requirements, at any time decide to divest themselves
of the sovereignty or effective control over the SBAs or any part
thereof". There are no plans to withdraw from the SBAs as
the military requirement still exists. The Sovereign Base Areas
enable Britain to maintain a permanent military presence at a
strategically situated point in the Eastern Mediterranean. RAF
Akrotiri is also an important staging post for military aircraft
and the communications facilities are a vital part of our world-wide
links. The SBAs also provide excellent training facilities with
reliable weather conditions and demanding terrain.
540. Since the SBAs are primarily required as
military bases and not ordinary Overseas Territories, the Administration
reports to the MoD in London. It has no formal connection with
the FCO or the British High Commission in Nicosia, although the
FCO states that there are "close informal links with both
offices on policy matters".
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