The military bases of the UK in Cyprus
The disagreement of AKEL to the Zurich- London agreements, part of which provided for the establishment of British military bases on the island, was expressed since the very beginning of their inception. Our approach regarding the actual status of those military bases is based on well- founded legal arguments, as much as on our firm belief that the humanity as a whole has to disengage from perceptions and practices promoting the militarization of international relations.
Simultaneously, we regret that the presence of the military bases of the UK in our country remains a strong provocation for the patriotic sentiments of our people and affronts the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus. Similar feelings are aroused, by the mere fact that territories of our country are used for the carrying out of military operations of third states in our wider region, the promotion of their interests and not for the benefit of the people of Cyprus. Additionally, the effect on the environment of the military and surveillance systems which exist and function within the military bases is of great concern.
- No agreement the conclusion of which has been procured by the threat or use of force can be considered as being valid and operational under international law. Under given circumstances and following respective procedures, the validity of such an agreement can be questioned.
- Despite the reference to “sovereign”- as included in the Treaty of Establishment- the military bases of the UK in Cyprus cannot be accepted as such. As it is prescribed for by the relevant rules of international law (rules jus cogens) on sovereignty and the territorial integrity of states, the areas of the military bases are an extension of the territory of the Republic of Cyprus; they cannot be considered as alien territories, which is what is being attempted through the Treaty of Establishment.
- Furthermore, when substantial provisions of international agreements are violated, the suspension of their implementation and/or their termination is again possible. In the case of the Treaty of Establishment, the UK can be charged for repeatedly making such violations. More specific,
- Since 1965 onwards, it has not made any remuneration to the Republic of Cyprus for the use of the bases. It is suggested that the accumulative amount due for the overall use of the military bases is approximately two billion euro.
- Despite the commitments that it had undertaken, the UK until today, has never actually consulted with the Republic of Cyprus as to the usage and stationing within the military bases of forces of other Commonwealth countries; and additionally to that, there is also information regarding the use of the bases by the military forces of the USA (e.g. during their intervention in Iraq) which are not even a Commonwealth country.
- If we accept that the Treaty of Establishment constitutes part of an integrated body of agreements which includes, inter alia, the Treaty of Guarantee, it follows that there is a contractual obligation for the simultaneous and absolute enforcement of all the provisions therein. It is inevitable that during the Turkish invasion of 1974 the United Kingdom refrained from fulfilling its obligations.
It cannot be anticipated that the Treaty of Establishment was the price for the recognition of the right of the Cypriot people to self- determination and for the independence of Cyprus. Its’ conclusion was procured under pressure, and was not the result of the free will the Cypriots; hence, the said treaty amounts to a severe anachronism and its forced imposition to a colonial residue. The presence of the military bases in Cyprus undermines the principle of demilitarization and peaceful co-existence in our region; especially because of their use to support and complement offensive military actions. Furthermore, they have been used for the development of the international spying (surveillance) system Echelon.
The initiatives that we have undertaken through time, aim to the termination of the presence of the UK military bases in Cyprus. Their presence in Cyprus, falsely suggests our people’s acceptance of that colonial regime, it undermines our right to self- determination as well as the sovereign right of the Republic of Cyprus to decide and implement policies to the benefit of its citizens. Additionally, in a world which is all the more hard- hit also due to the rage resulting from the aggressive policies of NATO and other powerful states, the presence of the UK military bases in Cyprus victimizes and endangers our people.
Nevertheless, despite noting our call for the termination of their presence in Cyprus, our main and immediate priority remains to end the illegal occupation of our country by Turkey and the reunification of our island and people. A juts, viable and comprehensive solution to the Cyprus problem is of key importance in creating the preconditions for the campaign to dismantle the bases. Thus, what we have to ascertain is that through the comprehensive solution, the presence of the UK military bases in Cyprus is not perpetuated forever. And that it will remain possible, at a future time, when the necessary conditions are met, to struggle effectively and according to international law rules and procedures for the dismantling of the UK military bases.
Intervention of Georgos Koukoumas, member of the C.C. of AKEL and the International Relations Department, at the Hearing “Palestine: What’s Next?” organized by GUE/NGL2015-07-1
- Feb26 2015-02-26
- Nov13 2014-11-13