President Anastasiades yesterday welcomed an agreement signed in London between Cyprus and former colonial power Britain lifting restrictions in developing land owned by Cypriots within the British bases area.
It benefits a total of 22 communities in Limassol, Larnaca and free Famagusta districts with land freed for development making up 78% of the total area of the bases.
“The agreement is a historic development considering that after more than 53 years since the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus a general guideline on development within the British bases is achieved,” Anastasiades said in a statement from London where he is on an official visit.
“The agreement will benefit thousands of people and will give a new dimension in the country’s economy recovery prospects,” he added.
The agreement was signed between Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides who is accompanying the President and Foreign Secretary William Hague at Carlton House, the official residence of the Secretary.
Hague said that there had been a lot of work in this agreement. In fact, negotiations began on October 2 last year and were concluded recently in Nicosia after 10 meetings.
Anastasiades also said that the agreement lifts all current restrictions about eligibility and development of properties within the British bases.
“All regulations applied in the Republic of Cyprus will be valid within the Bases areas, as regards purchasing and developing properties by European or third country nationals,” he added.
The President will chair a meeting next Wednesday morning with relevant ministers, district and community representatives as well as MPs to explain in detail the accord.
The areas to benefit in Limassol are: Akrotiri, Kolossi, Erimi, Episkopi, Asomatos, Trachoni, Avdimou, Paramali, Sotira, regions in Ypsonas and a small one in Kato Polemidia municipality.
In Larnaca, the areas benefiting are Xylophagou, Xylotympou, Ormidia and Pyla.
And in Famagusta, these areas are Dasaki Achnas, Aheritou, Vrysoules, Avgorou, Phrenaros, and a Strovilia area bordering the Dherynia crossing.
Most political parties have welcomed the land agreement, including socialist Edek which has been for years a ferocious opponent of the British bases presence in Cyprus.
However, former foreign minister George Lillikas warned that the agreement – which had been under discussion for years - could lead to the ‘Gibraltarisation’ of the bases area.
“The biggest danger we see in this agreement is the possible Gibraltarisation of the bases,” said Lillikas who now heads the Citizens Alliance Movement.
“In other words, when the majority of residents will no longer be Greek Cypriots but mainly from Britain and other European countries, Britain could try to do what it did in Gibraltar,” he added.
London could turn the bases from a military area to a colony through a referendum among residents there, he explained.
Lillikas asked for the agreement to be made public because the movement was informed that it provides for all rights in effect in the Republic of Cyprus to also be granted to European citizens opting to live in the bases area.
There is a love-hate relationship between Cyprus and Britain – a guarantor power together with Greece and Turkey which still occupies part of the island.