Greek Cyprus in spat with Britain over Russian use of military bases
Ömer Bilge NICOSIA
Greek Cyprus had announced the country is ready to host Russia at its aviation and naval bases, marking a split with its fellow EU members. AP PhotoGreek Cyprus’ offer to allow Russia the use of air and navy bases on its territory has triggered a feud with Britain, which is concerned over Russian military activities amid the Ukraine crisis.
The top British envoy to the island made a series of warnings to Greek Cyprus regarding the gas crisis in the eastern Mediterranean and the use of military bases by Russia during an interview with Greek daily Kathimerini, sparking reaction from Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades.
Greek Cyprus had announced the country is ready to host Russia at its aviation and naval bases, marking a split with its fellow EU members, which are in a deep conflict with Moscow over the Russian intervention in Ukraine, which led to a violent insurgency within the country.
In his interview, British High Commissioner to Cyprus, Damian Roberick Todd, said the EU has a common and voted stance against Russia over the recent developments in Ukraine, urging the government to act according to this.
Anastasiades, however, reacted to Todd’s remarks, asking the envoy to avoid using “baseless” words.
“There is an old [defense] agreement, which should be renewed as is. At the same time, some additional services will be provided in the same way as we do with other countries, such as, for example, with France and Germany,” the Greek Cypriot president reportedly said. “Cyprus and Russia have traditionally had good relations, and this is not subject to change.”
Andreas Papandreou Airbase, which was constructed by the southern Cypriot government jointly with Greece, is presumed to be the base at issue.
Both France and Israel have also demanded use of the facility.
However, a draft military agreement approved by the Greek Cypriot cabinet last month included permission for Russian aircraft to land on the base.
The final signature on the agreement is expected be inked during Anastasiades’ Moscow visit at the end of this month.
Britain already has the use of the Aktotiri (Ağratur) airbase and the Dhekelia (Dikelya) naval base on the island.