Cyprus and Britain are very close to a Brexit agreement on the status of the British bases on the eastern Mediterranean island after Britain leaves the European Union, Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides said on Tuesday.
“Our aim is to safeguard that Cypriots living within the boundaries of the bases will not have fewer rights than the rest of the citizens. This means the European acquis will be applied on people living in the bases,” Christodoulides said.
The agreement being discussed is believed to be similar to that being discussed between Britain and Spain on the status of Gibraltar after Brexit.
Britain retained two sovereign base areas totaling 254 square kilometers, or 3 percent of the land area of Cyprus, when it granted independence to the island in 1960.
Out of a total of 15,000 people living within the boundaries of the two bases at Akrotiri, on the south coast of the island, and Dhekelia in the southeast, 7,500 are Greek Cypriots who live on farmland making about 60 percent of the total territory.
They are technically living on British soil, which however, is neither marked nor physically separated from the rest of the island. In 2014 the residents within the bases were granted equal rights for the development of their land as the rest of Cypriots.
Beyond the rights of the residents of the bases, Cyprus and Britain will still have to agree on “border” arrangements regarding supplies for the bases imported through Cypriot ports.
But this will largely be agreed between the European Union and Britain as part of the wider market relations they are trying to establish after Brexit.[Xinhua]