Cyprus: British bases are illegal, says Nicosia
16 December, 16:23

(ANSAmed) - NICOSIA, DECEMBER 16 - News that the British Bases will remain operational in Cyprus has provoked a furious reaction from House Speaker Yiannakis Omirou, who has urged the government to react strongly to what he described as "provocative statements" made by the British Defence Minister Philip Hammond. Yesterday the British Government said it has no intention at present of relinquishing control or sovereignty over its bases in Cyprus. Omirou - as Famagusta Gazette reports today - told journalists that Hammond's remarks on the future of the bases at Dhekelia and Akrotiri were "provocative and cynical and an example of modern imperialist mentality." He added that the bases in Cyprus represent the "remnants of colonialism and are therefore illegal based on resolutions of the UN General Assembly." In a written statement to parliament yesterday, Philip Hammond confirmed Britain's "enduring commitment" to the bases, saying they had proved their worth during air operations in Libya and as a logistic hub for activities in Afghanistan.

"The sovereign base areas are in a region of geo-political importance and high priority for the United Kingdom's long-term national security interests," he added. The bases have been a constant cause of friction between London and Nicosia since Cyprus won independence in 1960, with rumours that the bases would close circulating in 1962, 1967, 1976 and again last year.

In 1962, President Makarios described the bases as being "rather useless in this atomic age."