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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 97-05-27

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <http://www.cyna.org.cy>


CONTENTS

  • [01] AKEL urges British government to stop Akamas manoeuvres
  • [02] British to end exercises in Akamas if alternative place found

  • 1240:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] AKEL urges British government to stop Akamas manoeuvres

    Nicosia, May 27 (CNA) -- Left-wing party AKEL called on the new British government to put an end to British Forces military exercises in the ecologically sensitive Akamas peninsula, on the western coast of Cyprus, as they disrupt the environment.

    In a letter to Britain's Prime Minister, Tony Blair, AKEL stressed that "no matter the measures taken, it is obvious that these manoeuvres damage the natural environment irreparably" and notes that "it is inconceivable that they should continue in a region soon to be declared a national park."

    Britain retains two sovereign bases on the island since it granted Cyprus (then its colony) its independence, in 1960. The Treaty of Establishment provides that British Forces in Cyprus can use designated areas, including the Akamas peninsula, for military exercises.

    A five-day British Forces exercise got underway Monday, with the participation of some 70 soldiers who have camped in the region, amid protest from local environmental and ecological organisations as well as from the inhabitants in the region.

    Pointing out that Akamas "is a region of exceptional ecological and environmental importance," AKEL appeals to the British government "and the known sensitivity of the Labour Party to ecological and environmental issues, to take the courageous decision and put an end to military manoeuvres" in the area.

    Acknowledging that British exercises in Akamas "take place on the basis of conventional obligations of the Republic of Cyprus," AKEL notes it is time for the British government "to face the issue from the point of view of the responsibility we all have concerning the environment and our planet Earth".

    It adds that such a decision will be appreciated "by the Cypriot people as well as those who care for the environment world-wide".

    Similar letters were sent by AKEL to British High Commissioner in Nicosia, David Madden, and the President of the Republic, Glafcos Clerides.

    British exercises in Akamas have also been condemned by the Cyprus House of Representatives as well as the international organisation "Greenpeace", that has often staged protests demanding the area to be declared a national park.

    The government of Cyprus has tried to find alternative places for British exercises, which have not yet been fruitful.

    Meanwhile, a spokesman for the British Forces in Cyprus told Cyprus radio "we will continue to exercise our right on the Akamas as and when we require, but I would stress of course that we will not use live ammunition when the weather is hot."

    He added "when we next train we don't know. It may be the end of the summer, may be a little bit later."

    CNA MA/AP/1997
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    1500:CYPPRESS:02

    [02] British to end exercises in Akamas if alternative place found

    Nicosia, May 27 (CNA) -- British forces authorities have consented to ending future military exercises in the environmentally sensitive Akamas region if an alternative site is proposed, Government Spokesman, Manolis Christofides said today.

    "At this moment, we have the pleasant development that British forces will cease training in Akamas when we present them an alternative site," Christofides told reporters in his daily press briefing.

    The Government Spokesman described the British Forces' terms as "reasonable" and added that it rests with the Cyprus Government to find an alternative site.

    He also said the government needs "a short period of time" to find the site and that the final approval will be given by President of the Republic, Glafcos Clerides himself.

    Christofides said the British have agreed to leave Akamas, setting no preconditions on the alternative site to be found, after negotiations between the governments of Cyprus and Britain.

    He noted, however, that "it is logical" the site will be appropriate.

    "We are at the point of resolving this detail," the Government Spokesman said, adding that "there is progress in the matter and we are close to an end".

    However, Christofides denied that the Government bears any responsibility in the delay of finding an alternative site. He stressed this problem has existed since 1960 and that it is the present Government that has moved to solve it.

    The Government Spokesman said that "added measures are being taken to make any possibility of damage to the environment impossible".

    He noted that "the need to protect the rare ecosystem of Akamas is now commonly understood" by the Government, the House of Representatives and non-governmental organisation, which have repeatedly presented the issue before international fora.

    Christofides reiterated that the British military exercises are conducted "according to binding agreements" included in the 1960 Treaty of Establishment.

    The Treaty, which established Cyprus as an independent Republic, grants British Sovereign Base Area (SBA) forces in Cyprus to conduct military exercises in the Akamas for up to 70 days a year once Government authorities have been notified.

    CNA MA/MH/MCH/1997
    ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY
    CNA ENDS


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