Akrotiri

Flag  Flag of Akrotiri
Map  
Introduction By terms of the 1960 Treaty of Establishment that created the independent Republic of Cyprus, the UK retained full sovereignty and jurisdiction over two areas of almost 254 square kilometers - Akrotiri and Dhekelia. The southernmost and smallest of these is the Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area, which is also referred to as the Western Sovereign Base Area.
History

The Sovereign Base Areas were created in 1960 by the Treaty of Establishment, when Cyprus, a colony within the British Empire, was granted independence. The United Kingdom wished to retain sovereignty over these areas, as this guaranteed the use of UK military bases in Cyprus, including RAF Akrotiri, and a garrison of the British Army. The importance of the bases to the British is based on the strategic location of Cyprus, at the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, close to the Suez Canal and the Middle East; the ability to use the RAF base as staging post for military aircraft; and for general training purposes.

In 1974, Turkey invaded the North of Cyprus, leading to the establishment of the internationally unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. However, this did not affect the status of the bases, and the British were not involved in the fighting. Greek Cypriots fleeing from the Turks were permitted to travel through the Dhekelia base, and were given humanitarian aid. The Turkish advance halted when it reached the edge of the base area, rather than risk war with Britain.

The Southern part of the Famagusta province, which includes the now famed resort town of Ayia Napa was preserved in Greek hands. The occupation of the City of Famagusta gave way to a monumental development of the tourist industry of the Southern part of Famagusta province, including resorts like Protaras, Ayia Napa, Paralimni and others which were small villages before 1974.

Geography Location: peninsula on the southwest coast of Cyprus
Geographic coordinates: 34 37 N, 32 58 E
Map references: Middle East
Area: total: 123 sq km
note: includes a salt lake and wetlands
Area - comparative: about 0.7 times the size of Washington, DC
Land boundaries: total: 47.4 km
border countries: Cyprus 47.4 km
Coastline: 56.3 km
Climate: temperate; Mediterranean with hot, dry summers and cool winters
Environment - current issues: shooting around the salt lake; note - breeding place for loggerhead and green turtles; only remaining colony of griffon vultures is on the base
Geography - note: British extraterritorial rights also extended to several small off-post sites scattered across Cyprus; of the Sovereign Base Area land, 60% is privately owned and farmed, 20% is owned by the Ministry of Defense, and 20% is SBA Crown land
Politics

Cyprus has occasionally demanded the return of Akrotiri and Dhekelia, citing that the bases take up a large amount of territory that could be used for civilian development. For four years after Cypriot independence in 1960, the British government supported the Republic of Cyprus financially. After the intercommunal conflict of 1963-64 they stopped, claiming there was no guarantee that both communities would benefit equally from that money. The Cypriot government is still claiming money for the years from 1964 to now although to date has taken no international legal action to test the validity of their claim. Estimates for the claimed debt range from several hundred thousand to over one billion euro.

The Red Arrows flying over the RAF Base at Akrotiri

In July 2001, violent protests were held at the bases by local Cypriots, angry at British plans to construct radio masts at the bases, as part of an upgrade of British military communication posts around the world. Locals had claimed the masts would endanger local lives and cause cancer, as well as have a negative impact on wildlife in the area. The British government denied these claims.

The UK has shown no intention of surrendering the bases, although it has offered to surrender 117 square kilometres (45 sq miles) of farmland as part of the rejected Annan Plan for Cyprus. Today, around 3,000 troops of British Forces Cyprus are based at Akrotiri and Dhekelia. Ayios Nikolaos, in the ESBA, is believed to be a listening station of the intelligence network ECHELON.[original research?]

People Population: approximately 15,700 live on the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia including 7,700 Cypriots, 3,600 Service and UK Based Contract personnel, and 4,400 dependents
Languages: English, Greek
Government Country name: conventional long form: Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area
conventional short form: Akrotiri
Dependency status: a special form of UK overseas territory; administered by an administrator who is also the Commander, British Forces Cyprus
Capital: name: Episkopi Cantonment (base administrative center for Akrotiri and Dhekelia)
geographic coordinates: 34 40 N, 32 51 E
time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)
daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
Constitution: Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia Order in Council 1960, effective 16 August 1960, functions as a basic legal document
Legal system: the Sovereign Base Area Administration has its own court system to deal with civil and criminal matters; laws applicable to the Cypriot population are, as far as possible, the same as the laws of the Republic of Cyprus
Executive branch: chief of state: Queen ELIZABETH II (since 6 February 1952)
head of government: Administrator Air Vice-Marshal Richard LACEY (since 26 April 2006); note - reports to the British Ministry of Defense
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; the administrator is appointed by the monarch
Diplomatic representation in the US: none (overseas territory of the UK)
Diplomatic representation from the US: none (overseas territory of the UK)
Flag description: the flag of the UK is used
Constitution and governance

The SBAs were retained in 1960 as military bases under British sovereignty, [5] not as ordinary colonial territories.

This is the basic philosophy of their administration as declared by Her Majesty's Government in 'Appendix O' to the 1960 treaty with Cyprus, which provided that the British government intended:
Not to develop the Sovereign Base Areas for other than military purposes.
Not to set up and administer "colonies".
Not to create customs posts or other frontier barriers between the Sovereign Base Areas and the Republic.
Not to set up or permit the establishment of civilian commercial or industrial enterprises except insofar as these are connected with military requirements, and not otherwise to impair the economic commercial or industrial unity and life of the Island.
Not to establish commercial or civilian seaports or airports.
Not to allow new settlement of people in the Sovereign Base Areas other than for temporary purposes.
Not to expropriate private property within the Sovereign Base Areas except for military purposes on payment of fair compensation. [6]

The bases have their own legal system, distinct from the UK and Cyprus. This consists of the laws of the Colony of Cyprus as at August 1960, amended as necessary. The laws of Akrotiri and Dhekelia are kept, as far as possible, the same as the laws of Cyprus. The Court of the Sovereign Base Areas is concerned with non-military offences committed by any person within Akrotiri and Dhekelia, and law and order is maintained by the Sovereign Base Areas Police, while military law is upheld by the Cyprus Joint Police Unit.

Economy Economy - overview: Economic activity is limited to providing services to the military and their families located in Akrotiri. All food and manufactured goods must be imported.
Currency (code): euro (EUR) adopted 1 January 2008; note - the Cypriot pound (CYP) formerly used
Exchange rates: Cypriot pounds per US dollar - NA (2007), 0.46019 (2006), 0.4641 (2005), 0.4686 (2004), 0.5174 (2003)
Communications Radio broadcast stations: AM NA, FM 1, shortwave NA (British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) provides Radio 1 and Radio 2 service to Akrotiri, Dhekelia, and Nicosia) (2006)
Television broadcast stations: 0 (British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) provides multi-channel satellite service to Akrotiri, Dhekelia, and Nicosia) (2006)
Military Military - note: Akrotiri has a full RAF base, Headquarters for British Forces on Cyprus, and Episkopi Support Unit