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Turkish Cypriot land on British bases safeguarded in development deal

The Turkish Cypriot religious endowment foundation Evkaf said on Wednesday they have received guarantees that Turkish Cypriots properties inside the British sovereign bases (SBAs) would only be used by them.

The head of Evkaf Ibrahim Bender said the foundation and other Turkish Cypriot property owners have received an official letter from bases commander General Robert John Thompson guaranteeing their land in the SBAs.

“I thank him. As you can see, we resolved this problem smoothly through dialogue. Now we will start working on the way with which we will use the thousands of acres of properties as investments, creating revenue for Evkaf,” Bender said.

In June, the Cyprus government and the UK signed an agreement allowing development of certain areas inside the SBAs, 60 years after the island gained its independence from Britain.

The agreement concerns 18 square kilometres of around 254 square kilometres – or 3 per cent of the island’s territory — retained by former colonial ruler Britain in Akrotiri in Limassol, and Dhekelia, Larnaca, as sovereign territory used as military bases.

The agreement prompted Evkaf to dispute its validity, arguing that it was signed without the consent of the Turkish Cypriots and Turkey – a violation of one of the main principles of the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus in 1960, it claimed.

The bases stressed that under the agreement, Turkish Cypriots who own land in the SBAs will equally be able to benefit from developing their land by applying to the SBAA Area Offices.

“All Turkish Cypriot land is safeguarded and cannot be developed without the consent of its owners.”

The statement was welcomed by Evkaf as a positive sign, but the foundation insisted it wanted the bases to directly communicate with them officially.

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