The United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union, known as Brexit, will not affect urban planning and development within the British Bases, as this is provided by the Cyprus-UK Agreement signed nearly four years ago, a Foreign Ministry source has told the Cyprus News Agency.
The same source said that the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is to coordinate the competent government departments responsible for the practical implementation of the Agreement and it is mainly responsible for overseeing the whole process.
The FM official said that a representative of the Foreign Ministry has participated as an observer in the occasional meetings and consultations held among all the parties involved with the aim to prepare and adopt the Planning Policy for these areas.
The implementation of the agreement, the official noted, is moving forward smoothly but also talked about a difficult and time-consuming process due to the special regime of the Bases.
Moreover, the source said the agreement provides for the creation of a completely new situation, adding that “we started from scratch, there was nothing and we are moving forward.”
The official said that the Agreement is a legal commitment between the two states to implement what is agreed and made it clear that there is no indication that the British are in any way withdrawing from what has been agreed.
On the contrary, the source told CNA, the British Bases are working with the Cypriot authorities and are committed to the common task of implementing the Agreement, while expressing the hope that the Planning Policy would soon be published.
Replying to questions, the source clarified that the Agreement and its implementation are not at all connected with the Cyprus problem and developments in efforts to resolve it. The official said that this Agreement is completely different from the proposal submitted by the British in the context of the negotiations on the Cyprus peace effort providing for the return of British Bases territory after a political settlement.
The source described the Agreement as a “big step” because of British misgivings about allowing development in these areas which they use for military purposes.
Asked about the concerns expressed by the local communities regarding the fact that the Governor of the British Bases will have the final say in the adoption of the Planning Policy, the same source appeared reassuring, and referred to a formal point in the Agreement which will not overturn the final and agreed text that will occur at the end of the day.
Asked how Brexit could affect this Agreement, the source said that it might affect some legal aspects of the Agreement, but clarified that it is not going to affect urban planning.
“We have begun negotiations with the United Kingdom to see exactly how the new status of the Bases will emerge in view of the UK`s exit from the EU,” the source said, reiterating that the practical implementation of the Agreement would not be affected.
This negotiating group operates autonomously but it is in close consultation and coordination with the Task force of the Ministry that deals exclusively with Brexit, the source concluded.
The Agreement has reached the stage of assessing the environmental impact on the basis of the agreed Preliminary Planning Policy which is expected to be published by the end of 2017.
The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri, on the southwest coast, and Dhekelia on the east side of the island are British overseas territory. These areas, which include British military bases and installations, as well as other sites, were retained by the British under the 1960 treaties which established the Republic of Cyprus.