Britain’s exit from the European Union presents Cyprus with a unique opportunity. Many of the things that were solidly agreed, now cease to exist. Anything new that comes up has to be agreed by all EU members. Its such historical moments that small countries are desperately looking for, in order to correct historical mistakes to which they did not contribute. Today we are given a unique chance to correct our past.
I refer to the fact that the Cyprus government ought to claim back sovereignty of the British Bases. The price paid to the British for them to leave Cyprus was to keep two bases and other smaller parts of Cyprus as their own.
This one-sided and humiliating arrangement was the result of the then prevailing atmosphere and even though it was unfair, it was accepted and became part of the agreements which gave birth to the Cyprus Republic.
Today, however, the situation is completely different. These changed circumstances are what we should take advantage of and take back now what we deserved in 1959. We can claim our rights of ownership on area of the British Bases. The liberal and realistic people of the UK will understand the fairness of our demand. I believe that deep down they know too that they would have done the same thing had they had been in our position.
The regime of the bases would not change; what would change is the ownership. The bases could still operate as they do today, in a rented space for as long as they want.
In addition to the correction of a historical error and the restoration of justice, Cyprus would have the United Kingdom as an ally and not as an opponent as has been the case until now.
Britain would have no reason to go against the interests of the Republic of Cyprus. On the contrary, it would support her landlord.
Since 1960 Britain’s interest was for our country to be in trouble so that her bases were free of interference. Whatever happened Britain was behind it and continually made alliance with the Turks, who had no claims over foreign land as opposed to us. Furthermore, the rent now payable would help the Cyprus economy as well as her defence if we ask, part or all rental income to be paid in arms. In this way our country will be adequately protected no matter who the government is.
Of course, I do not have illusions. Two of the present candidates for the presidency will never ask for such a thing, because it is beyond them or their political parties have commitments which cannot be seen but we know of. They are as clear as the Cypriot sun.
I am not discussing abolishing the bases just abolishing their sovereignty and correcting history, which will give Cyprus many benefits, benefits which were stolen at her birth.
Christos Rotsas, former MP, Nicosia