The UK government has reserved the right to claim up to 12 nautical miles of territorial sea on behalf of the two British military bases in Cyprus, affirmed the Minister of State for Europe David Lidington. He also clarified that Britain should have no rights over the natural resources off the coast of the bases.

Responding to a Conservative MP’s written question on what assessment has been made by the Foreign Office on whether the UK’s bases in Cyprus have a territorial water and a claim to a continental shelf, Mr Lidington referred to the Annex A of the 1960 treaty concerning the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus, which defines the adjacent territorial sea boundaries between the two base areas and Cyprus.

“Presently, both sovereign base areas claim a territorial sea out to three nautical miles but we have reserved our rights to claim up to 12 nautical miles on their behalf, as provided for under the UN convention on the law of the sea”, reads the minister’s statement. His response also covered the second leg of the question regarding any intention by the UK government to make a submission to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS).

Another written question, also by a Tory MP, was submitted to the Minister for Europe, inquiring as to what rights the UK has to natural gas, oil and other natural resources off the coast of Cyprus as a result of the base areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia.

Mr Lidington reminded his fellow MP that “the declaration made by the Government in 1960 makes clear the UK’s intention not to develop the Sovereign Base Areas for other than military purposes”.

A similar response was given by a Conservative member of the House of Lords representing the government to Lord Kilclooney on 30th January. Asked whether any assessment of potential revenues resulting from the exploitation of oil or gas reserves in the “United Kingdom territorial waters” off the coast of Cyprus had been made, Baroness Warsi had replied: “The Government have not made any assessment of potential revenues resulting from the exploitation of gas or oil reserves in the territorial waters of the Cyprus sovereign base areas. The declaration made by the Government in 1960 makes clear the UK’s intention not to develop the sovereign base areas for any other than military purposes.”

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