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Britain to review Cyprus military bases

Britain will review its military bases in Cyprus as it seeks to extract maximum value from a shrinking defence budget, Defence Secretary Liam Fox said in a statement to the UK parliament on Tuesday.

BRITAIN has two extensive sovereign base areas on the Mediterranean island, occupying 254 sq km or about 3% of its territory, which it retained when Cyprus won independence in 1960.

About 2,880 military personnel and 1,610 civilians work at the bases, which support Britain’s troops in Afghanistan and provide a platform for other operations in an unstable region.

Cyprus opposed use of the bases to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya, and Britain said it is not using them for that purpose.

A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said the review would cover “what we have, how we use it, if we can use it better”, but did not say whether a base could be closed.

The year-old government has already carried out a strategic defence review, which has led to sharp cuts in military personnel and equipment as the government seeks an 8% real-terms cut in defence spending over four years.

In November 2009, the United Nations said Britain had offered to hand over almost half of its sovereign territory in Cyprus to facilitate a peace deal between the island’s divided Greek and Turkish Cypriots.

Earlier this afternoon, the Ministry of Defence announced that Lord Ashcroft will lead review and will work alongside Patrick Mercer MP.

They will report by the end of the year.

Readers' comments

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  • @John – Akrotiri and Episkopi are both part of the Western Sovereign Base Area.

  • John Swift says:

    Are Akrotiri and Episkopi classed as one Sovereign Base? When I was stationed in Cyprus during 1966/7 there was some distance between the two or has Episkopi closed.

    Nicosia closed while we were there but Dheklia was still operating the last time we visited the base in recent years.

  • dimitri says:

    Anyone remember this? The Ministry of Defence (MoD) now says it is investigating newspaper claims that it paid £22.51 for light bulbs that can be bought for 65p elsewhere…..waste is the name of the game everywhere.

  • dimitri says:

    @U boat, still think that all the money going towards the bombs being dropped here and there could be better used in schools and hospitals, made no mention of those benefits seekers etc

  • U Boat says:

    @Demitri What all my tax money going to help all the layabouts and scroungers in the UK that don’t and won’t work and not to mention, more of my TAX money going to the united states of Europe. For the UK to take in all the waifs and strays. Along with giving all the lower paid jobs to the so called Europeans from the eastern bloc areas!!! Along with housing and NHS benefits that they are NOT entitled too.

    So what’s wrong with wasting some of my hard earned TAX money on a few Bombs dropped in the name of World peace and Democracy ?

  • Gavin Jones says:

    The word “review” pops out of the woodwork every now and again. The Sovereign Base Areas will always exist and be maintained, even if they are truncated at some future date.

    Their presence if far too important to the West and will never be returned.

    That’s the reality and no amount of speculation or nationalist rhetoric demanding their return will make any difference.

  • dimitri says:

    I won’t get tied up in the semantics of the 1960 treaty, all I know is that either or all of the guarantor powers could intervene to restore the peace and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus….did this happen? Depends on what side of the fence you are on? Anyway, military spending in Cyprus is a total waste, and funds could have gone to much better causes…education healthcare etc…..we are kidding ourselves if we think Turkey can be stopped, and for UK military spending, sorry just as bad, all the cash spent on bombs being dropped here and there in the name of democracy and the righteous could help so many people in the UK……

  • U Boat says:

    Being Ex Military I am somewhat disappointed in the UK government for the way they have chopped the armed forces already. We are after all an Island nation and have done and still do rely on shipping for most of our goods in and out.

    I do own a property on the Island of Cyprus In the area of Ayia Napa. It is very close to two strategically important military bases, and of course the green line is not more than 10 mins drive away. I do hope the British government do NOT drastically reduce the military presence or even remove it altogether. As I feel this would be unwise.

    We (The British) have had long historical ties with Cyprus and other countries in the Middle East region. For the sake of stability we need to keep this up. Not only for Cyprus! For us all. No one wants the Americans running everything. And the United States of Europe does not work. (It is to diverse) And not forgetting Turkey is on the door step watching the progress of Greek Cyprus, even more so now the supposed oil and Gas reserve have been found.

    So KEEP our military and sovereign bases there for the good of us all now and in the future.

    U Boat
    EX RN. Submarine service.

  • Curmudgeon says:

    Might I remind all who read the CPN editorials and comments of the readers, that British Forces did not intervene in ’74 invasion as the they had no grounds to do so. The ’60 agreement, treaty, contract, call it what you wish, basically stated that sovereign forces would ‘assist’ in defending the island in the event of an act of war by a foreign nation. Greece and Turkey were not considered ‘foreign’ as the island consisted of both Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Believe me, it was frustrating at the time.

    Sovereign Base Areas – At the risk of inflaming comment, I say that to give back Akrotiri would be an act of gross stupidity until Cyprus becomes politically stable. Maybe Dhekelia but not Akrotiri as it has a military airfield.

    For those who live here and hold British Passports, just where will you make a bolt to if the war kicks off again? Remember, only a truce has been agreed to, we are still in a state of war.

    You cannot depend on Greek Cypriots to get you out in the event of a crisis so who will be turning to…yes you’ve got it, a Sovereign Base Area.

    I was here in ’74 and I can assure you every man jack and his dog who had a British Passport was banging on the sovereign base door to get in and out if you get my drift. And that was before Expats started to retire here in their thousands.

  • Greg Gregory says:

    I’ll eat my laptop if the British pull out of any bases in Cyprus……….scanner and printer as well!

  • @Andrew – the properties have RoC deeds.

  • Andrew says:

    In the event that the British bases close down will the individual properties be sold. If so will these properties have proper British Title Deeds. Buying a home in Cyprus and receiving title deeds, that would be a refreshing change!

  • dimitri says:

    If the bases are handed back, the concrete will start to pour again and soon there will not be a tree in sight, as for Turkey moving in if the bases close?, Turkey can move in whenever they like, the bases did not stop them in 1974 and they won’t stop them in the future……all they need is an reason valid or not…..in 74 it was the fear of union with Greece & protecting rights of Turkish Cypriots, this time it will just be protecting the rights of the Turkish Cypriots i.e their claim in sharing the natural resources of the island namely the natural gas finds to the south..end of story….for the purpose of this discussion you would think the govt, would know better when it came to legislation and the rights of property owners considering all that happened in 1974….ironically enough if you were displaced in 74 and live in a Greek house in the north, you have every right to claim back your property in the south…best of both worlds….

  • Robert Briggs says:

    If these Bases close, the Turks will be licking their chops!

  • Peter says:

    It costs £30m a years to keep the bases, and the British tax payers gets nothing from it. Time to close them all and go home. Problem is who will move into them? Akrotiri is the biggest British base outside the UK. What makes you think the Greek Cypriots want it with no air-force? What makes you think that F16’s from the Turkish Air-force will not move in as the British withdraw? Will the North come South?

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