A SPOKESMAN for the Interior Ministry yesterday informed the House Commerce Committee that the two sides had reached a technical agreement, which is soon expected to be ratified by the Foreign Ministry and the Bases.
After 50 years of the Bases’ presence in Cyprus, the residents in communities within them will have the right to develop, manage and make use of their properties, just like the rest of the Cypriot public.
“The Commerce Committee has managed to launch the possibility of an agreement between Cyprus and the Bases for the recognition of the residents’ rights, so they can develop their properties as they desire,” said Committee Chairman, DISY’s Lefteris Christoforou. “They can’t not have the same rights as the rest of the citizens.”
Christoforou maintained that developing areas within the Bases would lead to a broader development of the Cyprus economy.
According to what was heard at the House yesterday, the agreement requires a town-planning scheme and the same procedure that applies in the rest of the Republic will be implemented. However, the town-planning licences will be issued by the Bases.
“The English are insisting on having the last say, but the town-planning legislation that exists in the Republic will apply,” said DIKO’s Angelos Votsis.
Votsis explained that sales and purchases will be allowed only for Cypriot citizens. “Especially in the Akrotiri area, there is another problem with the Bases’ arbitrary decision to appoint a large area as protected land for wild bird life,” he added. “The Interior Ministry has already sent a letter of complaint. We are demanding a revocation of the order, so that the area can start being developed; in the next months.”
“Once the agreed town-planning scheme exists, the English will be obliged to issue licenses, based on the agreement they have in front of them,” said Votsis.
The British Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia comprise those parts of Cyprus which stayed under British jurisdiction and remained British sovereign territory when the 1960 Treaty of Establishment created the independent Republic of Cyprus.
They cover 98 square miles, 47.5 around Akrotiri, the Western Sovereign Base Area (WSBA) and 50.5 around Dhekelia, the Eastern Sovereign Base Area (ESBA).
The Akrotiri Wetlands in the WSBA holds around 30 species of birds qualifying under EU Directive 79/409/EEC on the Protection of Wild Birds, while the Episkopi Cliffs holds a further seven, including the Elenora’s Falcon and the Griffon Vulture.