Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean, situated some 40 miles south of Turkey, 60 miles west of the Syrian coast and 220 miles north of Egypt. It has a land area of 9,251 square kilometres and a total population of about 790,000. The island has been divided for some 40 years by a United Nations buffer zone known as the 'Green Line'. Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) recognises only the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, which administers the southern two-thirds of the island, but not the so-called ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’
The Sovereign Base Areas
The Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, usually referred to as Western Sovereign Base Area (WSBA) and Eastern Sovereign Base Area (ESBA), are those parts of the island which remained under British jurisdiction on the creation of an independent Republic of Cyprus in 1960. Under the 1960 Treaty of Establishment, HMG retained sovereignty over the SBAs, which cover 3% of the land area of Cyprus, a total of 98 square miles (47.5 at Akrotiri and 50.5 at Dhekelia). However, HMG does not own most of the land. About 60% is privately owned; some 20% is UK MOD-owned or leased land; with the remaining 20% being Crown land held by the Administration (including forests, roads, rivers and Akrotiri Salt Lake).
In addition to the Sovereign Bases themselves, the Treaty of Establishment also provides for the continued use by the British Government of certain facilities within the Republic of Cyprus, known as Retained Sites, and for the use of specified training areas in the Republic of Cyprus. Please click here to link to a map showing the location of the SBAs within Cyprus.
The boundaries of the SBAs were drawn in 1960 to include the major military installations and to exclude villages and towns. There are three Republican “enclaves” within the Dhekelia SBA – Ormidhia, Xylotymbou and Dhekelia power station. However, as a result of the events in 1974 and other developments over the years, about 10,000 Cypriots now live in the SBAs. In addition, approximately 3,800 military and UK-based civilian personnel and their dependants work or live on the Bases.
The SBAs are retained as military bases – not “colonial ” territories. This is the basic philosophy of their administration as set out by HMG in its 1960 Declaration on the Administration of the Areas, usually known as Appendix O. This stated that the main objectives to be achieved in the administration of the areas were to be:
- Effective use of the SBAs as military bases;
- Full co-operation with the Republic of Cyprus;
- Protection of the interests of those resident or working in the SBAs.
The Secretary of State for Defence confirmed HMG’s continuing commitment to the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus in a Statement to Parliament on 15 December 2011
Because the SBAs are primarily required as military bases, the Administrator reports to Secretary of State for Defence in London. It has no formal connection with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the British High Commission in Nicosia, although there are close informal links with both on policy matters.