A unilateral decision by the United Kingdom and the Greek Cypriot administration to open certain areas of the British Sovereign Bases for development is damaging the balance between the Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot sides of the island, the Turkish Foreign Ministry stated Friday.
“The United Kingdom, who is a guarantor, has ignored the Turkish Cypriots once again with the implementation of this regulation and damaged the balance between the parties on the Island, the principle of political equality and therefore efforts towards the settlement of the Cyprus issue,” the ministry’s written statement said.
The regulation regarding the use of privately owned property within the British Sovereign Bases, which was signed between the Greek Cypriot administration and the U.K. in 2014, is in force. The sovereignty of the bases, however, originates from the 1960 agreements signed by the leaders of the two communities on the island and the three guarantor countries: Turkey, Greece and the U.K.
The Foreign Ministry of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) on Thursday underlined that the Turkish Cypriots also have rights protected under the 1960 agreements, adding that any amendment made without the information and approval of the three guarantor countries and the two parties on the island is an open violation to both the 1960 international Cyprus agreements and the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
“As we mentioned at the time of signing of this agreement, it is unacceptable that Turkey as a guarantor and the Turkish Cypriot side that signed the 1960 treaties were not consulted (in a) timely (fashion) on the content of this regulation, which entails a change of status in the base areas,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said.
“We support the statements of the TRNC authorities on this matter,” the statement said, stressing that “in these areas, not only Greek Cypriots but also Turkish Cypriots have immovable properties, as well as indispensable rights and interests.”
The statements from the TRNC and Turkey came after Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades on Monday signaled a regulation that would allow the development of certain areas inside the bases. Anastasiades hailed the move as a "historic day for the residents and owners of property inside the territory controlled by British authorities."
According to the Cyprus Mail newspaper, the agreement concerns 18 square kilometers (7 square miles) of around 254 square kilometers, or 3% of the island’s land, which is retained by Britain in Akrotiri near the city of Limassol and Dhekelia in Larnaca.
The U.K. has maintained two military bases at Akrotiri and Dhekelia since the island gained independence from Britain in 1960.
In 1974, Ankara intervened as a guarantor power to Cyprus in response to a coup aiming to bring about the island's annexation by Greece. This culminated in the formation of the TRNC in 1983.
The decades since have seen several attempts to resolve the Cyprus dispute come to naught. The latest, held with the participation of the guarantor countries, came to an end in Switzerland in 2017 with no progress in sight.