The UK government has reiterated, during a debate at the House of Lords, its offer to “surrender” parts of the land in the British Bases back to a reunified Cyprus, once a comprehensive settlement has been reached.
Asked whether the offer initially made over ten years ago is still on the table, the Earl of Courtown Lord Stopford representing the government said: “The Foreign Secretary confirmed to Parliament on 1st June this year that the UK has made this generous offer that as part of a proper comprehensive settlement, we will surrender nearly half of the land mass of the SBA territories.”
Britain, a former colonial power, has retained two military bases in Cyprus, since the country gained its independence in 1960. Britain along with Greece and Turkey are the three guarantor powers of the Republic of Cyprus, according to the 1960 treaties that established the Republic.
The question was posed by Lord Anderson of Swansea who initiated the debate at the Lords’. The Labour life peer also asked “how it is that the guarantor power status still appears relevant when it is not and Cyprus is now a full member of the European Union?”
The government representative replied that “the United Kingdom meets its current obligations under the Treaty of Guarantee through support of the UN-facilitated settlement process, which is aimed at achieving a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation with political equality as defined by the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. This arrangement is not altered by Cyprus’s membership of the European Union.”
In his initial statement, the Earl of Courtown said that the UK government welcomes the “renewed sense of optimism” surrounding settlement talks in Cyprus. He added that both Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades and Turkish Cypriot leader Moustafa Akinci are committed to a settlement and that their positive leadership is creating a real sense of momentum.
“There is now an opportunity for the sides to reach a just and lasting settlement. We hope the leaders will use the impetus that exists to make progress on key issues. UK will continue to support the UN-led process and both communities,” added the Conservative peer.