Every government ministry is taking measures so that Cyprus can be prepared to tackle the impact of a messy Brexit, Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides said on Thursday.
The minister, who briefed the House foreign affairs committee behind closed doors, said there was still time for an orderly exit of Britain from the EU but a lot would depend on the discussions at the House of Commons next week.
“This is an unprecedented situation,” he said after the committee meeting. “It is the first time we are faced with an exit scenario, especially with visible possibility of a messy exit.”
Christodoulides said he informed MPs on Brexit in general, the preparations of Cyprus for the case of a disorderly Brexit, the status of the British bases and the rights of all Cypriots working or living within the bases in the case a no-deal Brexit, and preparations at European level that cover all member states in the case of such a scenario.
The government has started preparations for such an exit since last October, he said, while some 10 days ago, the deputy permanent secretary of the European Commission who deals exclusively with the matter, was in Cyprus.
“Each ministry in its fields of competence takes all those actions so that we are ready in the event of a messy Brexit,” he said.
MPs said after the meeting that Brexit would affect Cyprus socially as well as through its economy, and that a proper preparation was imperative.
Diko deputy leader, Christiana Erotokritou said that Cyprus ought to take advantage of the Brexit to renegotiate the status of the bases. Instead, she said, it chose to handle the whole issue in a way that resulted in an agreement on the bases which in fact ensures their presence in the Republic of Cyprus, as if the decision of the British people to leave the EU never occurred.
She said that this was a top opportunity for Cyprus to claim its rights or gain benefits for the Cypriot people and Cyprus must not miss out on that. “There is no reason for the Republic of Cyprus to facilitate the UK’s exit from the EU without any gain or exchange.”
Head of the committee, Giorgos Lillikas, also referred to the issue of the bases arguing that new data had been created following the recent decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague on the case of Mauritius and of Britain’s Supreme Court ruling a few months ago “that the bases are not sovereign and that they are a colonial remnant.”
“The foreign minister said there is no political decision at the moment to open this subject with the UK,” he said, adding that both the government and parties lacked the political will.
Lillikas also said Brexit would affect the Cypriot diaspora in the UK, students, tourism, and healthcare issues, among other things.
He said the government had prepared a number of bills concerning new legislation that must be in place after Brexit which are currently being vetted by the state legal services.
AKEL’s parliamentary spokesman, Giorgos Loukaides, expressed the opinion that there had not been adequate preparation by the government and that MPs, were not fully informed as to what stage these preparations were currently at.
The committee, he said, had decided to ask all ministries and state services to inform it in writing of the measures they are taking.