Cyprus House adjourns vote on resolution on British Bases
Nicosia, Jun 29 (CNA) -- The Cyprus House of Representatives has adjourned until Thursday morning a vote on a resolution on the legal status of the two military bases Britain has retained on the island since it gained its independence from British colonial rule in 1960.
During the last part of a debate, the overwhelming view outlined by party representatives was that the presence of the Bases has become untenable and it is high time the demand for their withdrawal is put forward for discussion.
Cypriot parliamentarians were very critical of British policy on Cyprus with regard to efforts to find a negotiated settlement of the island's division (as a result of the 1974 Turkish invasion), to London's backing of Turkish positions on Cyprus and Europe and to the violation by Britain of the 1960 Treaties of Guarantee and Establishment.
House President Demetris Christofias said a proposed amendment by Vasos Lyssarides, who proposed the House debate on the legal status of the Bases, could not be discussed at present and called on the MPs to vote on any amended text at tomorrow's House session.
The amendment proposed that it should be noted that the Bases, as part of the Republic of Cyprus, are in fact European Union territory. The resolution refers to Cyprus' Accession Treaty that notes that the Bases remain non EU territory.
Zaharias Koulias, speaking on behalf of the Democratic Party (DIKO), said the House debate on the Bases was not seeking a confrontation with London and added that the issue if the political and legal aspects of the presence of the British Bases was correctly raised by Lyssarides.
He said the Bases are not a state, nor a colony and London cannot act as if they were and advocated implementation of the EU acquis communautaire on the Bases and for the implementation of the European Convention of Human Rights in the Bases territory that is not used for military purposes.
''Our wish is to see these Bases withdraw from Cyprus,'' he added.
Leader of the Social Democrats Movement EDEK Yiannakis Omirou said the Bases are not British sovereign territory, adding that being ''civil and mere observers of British foreign policy against us has led from bad to worse.''
He said London must pay the government of the Republic its dues, as this is provided in the 1960 Treaties, which he estimated it amounted to ''several hundreds of millions of pounds.''
''The British government must receive the message that it cannot behave in an arbitrary manner nor can it act from a position of power towards a country which it has an obligation to protect,'' he said, adding that if this policy continues, then the Cyprus government must take measures, not withstanding an appeal to international courts.
Christos Klerides, of New Horizons party, said London has violated the 1960 Treaties of Establishment and Guarantee, that call for British safeguards for the Republic's independence, territorial integrity and security, all of which, he said, were violated during the 1974 Turkish invasion and continuing occupation of Cyprus' northern areas.
''We have a common goal, we all want to see the Bases leave. This debate can be likened to a referendum on the presence of the Bases,'' he said, adding that it would be wrong to suggest that a political settlement must precede a debate on the status and future of the Bases. ''This kind of position is music to British ears,'' he concluded.
Prodromos Prodromou, leader of the European Democracy party, said the Bases were not sovereign and called on the Cyprus government to claim what it rightfully belongs to it.
He referred to two approaches, one that says that this is not the time to open another front with Britain by raising such an issue and a second one saying that all things taken into account, this matter must be raised with Britain.
''The Bases are part of the question of Cyprus,'' he concluded and urged the House to consider holding a referendum on the future of the Bases.
Dinos Michaelides, leader of the Struggling Democratic Movement (ADIK), said that Britain undermines the Republic of Cyprus and added ''it is unheard of to see Britain, a member of the European family to which Cyprus belongs, continue to behave towards the Republic in such an unacceptable manner.''
He called on Cyprus President Tassos Papadopoulos to raise the issue of the British Bases with Prime Minister Tony Blair at their meeting next month in London and demand respect, sincere disposition for cooperation and good faith from Britain.
Michaelides was critical of British policy towards Cyprus, especially in relation to EU matters that affect Turkey's EU accession course.
George Perdikis, General Secretary of the Environmentalists Movement, put forward six proposals on the issue under discussion: to return to the government of Cyprus all territory not used by Britain for military purposes, to have the government appoint a civil governor for the Bases to ensure implementation of European law and to see the acquis communautaire apply throughout the Bases.
Representatives from other political parties spoke during previous House sessions.
He also said there must be a timeframe for the withdrawal of the Bases, a referendum must be held on their future among the Cypriots and London must pay us its due to Nicosia, amounting to more than one billion pounds, according to him.
At the conclusion of the debate, Lyssarides said his proposed resolution was getting a unanimous approval by the House and put forward an amendment saying that the Bases are part of the Republic and as such are EU territory, whereas Britain has managed to exclude them from the EU when it joined the Union.
Lyssarides also proposed that the resolution, once approved, should be sent to the EU.
House President referred the vote on the proposed resolution and any possible amendments to Thursday.