The Sovereign Base Areas Administration and British Forces Cyprus Covenant with Cyprus based UK Veterans

Regular, Reservist, Retired Building an Enduring and Stronger Partnership

The Sovereign Base Administrative Area and British Forces Cyprus Covenant with Cyprus based UK Armed Forces Veterans was signed on Fri 9 Jul 21. The intent of the covenant is to provide a formal agreement, subject to periodic review, of a strong and enduring partnership, between the Bases and the Cyprus based veteran community. 
Each Station has an appointed Station Veterans Representative who acts as a direct link between the Station and the wider veteran community, contributing towards building an enduring and stronger partnership to the mutual benefit of both the serving and veteran communities. Episkopi, Akrotiri, Dhekelia and Ayios Nikolaos all have their own representatives and can be contacted at: BFC-Cyprus-Veterans@mod.gov.uk.

CONTEXT
UK Armed Forces Covenant

The Armed Forces Covenant is an agreement between the armed forces’ community (past and present), the nation and the government. It encapsulates the moral obligation to those who serve, have served, their families and the bereaved. The covenant’s twin underlying principles are that members of the armed forces community should face no disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services and that special consideration is appropriate in some cases. Within the UK, community covenants support the armed forces covenant. They are a voluntary, non-binding commitment by local councils to support members of the armed forces community in their area. Additionally, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) identifies and addresses genuine areas of disadvantage with major stakeholders, including the 3 Service Families Federations, the Soldiers’ Sailors’ and Airmen’s Families Association (SSAFA) and the Royal British Legion (RBL).

Cyprus

It is estimated there are approximately 2,000 UK veterans who have chosen to live on the island of Cyprus, including approximately 200 in the Turkish Controlled Area (TCA). These personnel and their families, whilst subject to the same underlying principles as enshrined in the UK covenant, are not always able to benefit due to living abroad. Whilst that is their choice, many of these veteran personnel are members of service associations, a way in which links with serving military colleagues are forged and maintained.

Sovereign Base Areas and British Forces Cyprus

The SBAs are one of 14 UK Overseas Territories and the only one funded and administered by the MOD. The SBAs comprise 98 square miles of Sovereign UK territory on the island of Cyprus and are home to approximately 7,000 service personnel, UK based civilian personnel and their families. This is the UK Armed Forces’ largest overseas Base. The 1960 Treaty of Establishment that established the independence of the Republic of Cyprus (RoC) declared three governing principles for the SBAs: effective use of the SBAs as military bases; full cooperation with the RoC; and protection of the interests of those resident or working in the SBAs (i.e Cypriots). The SBA Administration (SBAA) is the de facto local authority to those that live in the SBAs including British Forces Cyprus (BFC); the serving community. There is no covenant between the SBAA and its serving military community, as the relationship between the two elements is mutually supportive. The SBAA/BFC has no formal responsibility for UK Armed Forces’ matters outside of the SBAs, which remain the preserve of the British High Commission (BHC). Nevertheless, the connection between members of the Cyprus based veteran community and BFC is unique in many respects and offers mutual benefit to both parties. A bespoke, carefully framed and agreed Covenant therefore has merit.

THE SBAA/BFC COVENANT WITH CYPRUS BASED VETERANS
Intent of the Covenant

The intent of this covenant is to provide a formal agreement, subject to periodic review, of a strong and enduring partnership, between the Bases and the Cyprus based veteran community. This agreement is based upon a mutual understanding of service and sacrifice and a desire to work in partnership for the mutual benefit of both the serving and veteran communities.

Parties to the Covenant

This covenant is between the Cyprus based veteran community (including spouse/partner/widow(ers)) and the serving British Forces military community, UK Based Civilians (UKBCs) and their families.

fiber_manual_recordVeteran. For the purpose of this covenant, a veteran is any person who has served in the UK Armed Forces for more than 6 months and who is permanently resident in Cyprus. The veteran community will be represented by a senior veteran, who will jointly sign this covenant.

fiber_manual_recordSBAA/BFC. The serving military community, UKBCs and their families are those who are temporarily resident in the SBAs. They are represented by the Administrator of the SBAs/Commander British Forces, who will jointly sign this covenant.

Effective Date and Review. This covenant will be effective from 9th July 2021 and subject to periodic review. The signatories and representatives will meet annually in January to reaffirm this agreement and raise any issues of mutual concern or benefit.

What the SBAA/BFC will do

The SBAA/BFC will: 

fiber_manual_recordAcknowledge the veteran community, including spouses/partners/widows(ers), as a trusted and valued on-island asset, undertake to ensure veterans are treated appropriately, recognising previous service as well as the knowledge, skills and experience they possess. 

fiber_manual_recordPermit veterans advantage over other non-entitled personnel when seeking to become members of BFC clubs and societies. Veterans applying for membership will take preference over other non-entitled personnel and veterans will not count towards the 15% non-entitled personnel limit. 

fiber_manual_recordWhere appropriate, allow access for veterans and spouses to the wider SBAs/BFC estate, subject to the veterans assurance/vetting process, to use non publicly funded facilities as non-entitled personnel. Station passes will detail both the club/society/organisation as well as “VETERAN”. UK Veterans’ ID cards will be recognised by BFC and will assist in the BFC access pass application process. 

fiber_manual_recordUndertake to keep the veteran community aware of ongoing relevant issues and community events, by linking with the Station Veterans’ representative as well as Service organisations and Regimental Associations. 

fiber_manual_recordMaintain effective and appropriate communications to both inform and manage expectations. 

What Veterans will do

The Veteran community will, on a voluntary basis:

fiber_manual_recordActively engage with BFC, providing a Station Veteran representative at Episkopi, Akrotiri, Dhekelia and Ayios Nikolaos, to work with Station Commanders and their staff in implementing aspects of this covenant. TORs for this role can be found at Annex A. 

fiber_manual_recordSupport the work of the SBAA/BFC through insight, influence and promoting a positive message across Cyprus in support of SBAA and Station Community Engagements plans. 

fiber_manual_recordAssist through both membership of, and volunteering for appointments within, Station clubs/societies or support to welfare, and other voluntary positions, across the SBAA/BFC. This may include service through the Base Support Group (BSG). 

fiber_manual_recordPromote, contribute to and attend relevant Station events and, where appropriate, places of worship.  

fiber_manual_recordApply, when available, for the UK Government Veteran identity card to assist BFC in granting concessions to veterans and validating service. This will also assist with the BFC pass application process. 

Conduct

SBAA/BFC undertake to treat the Veteran community with respect, recognising their service, include veterans in the planning and conduct of appropriate BFC and Station events and communicate effectively.

Veterans undertake to follow BFC and Station direction, specifically on matters of security and Health and Safety, and continue to uphold the high values and standards of the UK Armed Forces.

Limitations

This covenant is unable to make provisions for:

fiber_manual_recordTreating veterans as “entitled personnel” in accordance with the Treaty of Establishment. This includes, but is not limited to, employment in UK Dependent positions and access to duty free goods. 

fiber_manual_recordPermitting access to the SBAs through the waiving of immigration controls, which may be in place between Cyprus and the Turkish Controlled Area. 

fiber_manual_recordAny medical treatment, except in an emergency whilst on the Bases. 

fiber_manual_recordUse of Officers’ or Sergeants’ Mess facilities, unless a member, or having been invited and hosted by a current Mess member. 

fiber_manual_recordUse of any publicly funded facilities which would incur additional cost to the public purse including, but not limited to, Post Office and Recycling facilities.

fiber_manual_recordForgoing the normal assurance/vetting measures in place for serving military personnel, civilian personnel, contactors and Locally Employed Civilians. This will include obtaining Cypriot Police Criminal Records Check (CRC) at personal cost.   

fiber_manual_recordConfer upon veterans any rights. The decision of the Station Commander in whether a veteran can benefit from membership of clubs or access station facilities is final. 


Measures to be taken to ensure this covenant is appropriately implemented will be contained in direction from Chief of Staff BFC to Station Commanders. A copy of this direction will be shared with Station Veteran Representatives and distributed widely.