Back to bases
By KEREM HASAN / Chief Reporter
The arrangement signed last week covers three municipalities and 16 villages around Akrotiri in Limassol, and Dhekelia, Larnaca. It allows landowners to sell and develop land which previously could only be used for agriculture.
Speaking to Cyprus Today, pro Turkish Cypriot British peer Lord Ken Maginnis slammed the UK’s implementation taken without any consultation of the Turkish Cypriots.
Lord Maginnis on Thursday tabled a question to the British Government, which asked “Her Majesty's Government on what basis the decision to permit the development of private property within British Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus was made; whether the Turkish-Cypriot community was consulted about this decision; if not, why not; and what is their current evaluation of the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee, in relation to this decision?”
Former negotiator Osman Ertuğ reacted: “Although the British authorities have claimed in the past and probably do so at present, that this doesn’t involve any change in the status of the SBAs, in the long term it appears as a step towards that.
“Clearly, Turkish Cypriots as the co-owners of Cyprus have as much right of say over any move de facto or otherwise involving the island and the 1960 Treaties and Agreements.The British authorities let alone taking these facts into consideration, have not even consulted with Turkish Cypriots and guarantor Turkey as interested parties in a matter that affects the island’s future.”
Former parliamentary speaker, Sibel Siber, said the move was “unacceptable,” adding: “The UK breached its rights and obligations according to international treaties by completely ignoring the existence of one of the communities on the island, at a time when there is an ongoing dispute.
“The UK should have treated the Turkish Cypriots with equality which is a fundamental principle concerning Cyprus. Even if the UK, which is fully aware of the sensitivities and the Cyprus problem, does not recognise the TRNC, they could have taken the same approach like the UN in consulting the two communities and speaking with their respective leaders.”
Former Foreign Minister and president of the Turkish Cypriot Parliamentary Union, Vedat Çelik, said: “If changes are being made to the status inside the SBAs and land being given to Greek Cypriots, international treaties stipulate that both sides needs to be consulted.
“The 1960 treaties which had founded the partnership state and which afforded the SBA’s the status, cannot be changed without again consulting the signatories to the same international agreements.
“The question therefore is, is there a change in the ‘status’ of the SBAs? Our view is that if land is being given to one of the communities for a purpose, or that there is an enlargement or diminishing in the territory of the areas concerned, then there is a change of status, requiring consultation with the Turkish Cypriot side. This move has a direct implication to an international treaty of a state which the UK purports to recognise.”
Çetin Ramadan, executive member of British Turkish Cypriot Association (BTCA), which has been writing protest letters to the UK since 2014 on the matter on behalf of the Council of Turkish Cypriot Associations (CTCA-UK), said: “We see this move as completely illegal and [it] runs contrary to the treaties governing the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus. We also see this as discrimination against Turkish Cypriots who are equal sovereign owners of Cyprus and a disrespect to guarantor Turkey which is a signatory of the treaties.
“The CTCA is currently looking into all possible actions of recourse including legal action. The UK is continuing its policy of isolating the Turkish Cypriots. We will be writing to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office asking for further clarifications on what is happening, before deciding on what to do next.”
Association of Turkish Cypriots Abroad UK representative Mehmet Hussein called on Turkey and to make the Turkish Cypriots a party to a case at the International Court of Justice on the matter.