During a meeting with his Cypriot counterpart Ioannis Kasoulides on Friday July 17th British defence secretary Phillip Hammond revealed that the UK would be willing to turn over Britain’s two major bases in Cyprus providing a peace deal with the Turkish controlled north of the country is reached. Turkish troops invaded and occupied the northern third of Cyprus during 1974 when an Athens-inspired coup sought union with Greece. The situation has remained hostile ever since. The offer comes in the wake of renewed negotiations and builds on a previous offer made by the British in 2004 that was rejected in a Cypriot referendum.
Speaking to reporters at a press conference he said;
“We have made clear that in the context of a settlement, Britain is willing to offer to surrender a significant proportion of the land-surface of the bases to the Republic of Cyprus to allow development. That offer remains on the table, and we hope that it will add to the economic benefits of a settlement being concluded and help to stimulate economic growth in Cyprus in the future.”
In unrelated news there were demonstrations outside one of the bases this week in the wake of a pair of Brimstone missiles falling off a Tornado GR.4 as it returned RAF Akrotiri (see Fighter Jet News). Protesters demanded to know why the incident occurred and whether the RAF were taking adequate safety measures to protect the civilian population around the base.