Cyprus joins Ireland in Brexit conundrum

Published:  8 Apr at 6 PM
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Ireland isn’t the only island being threatened by the worsening Brexit situation.

The need for an Irish backstop as part of the Brexit agreement could also be applied to another, similar island set in slightly warmer climes – Cyprus. As in Ireland, the former British dependency is split into two halves and is home to a good proportion of the British military, although revolution isn’t the issue as yet in either case.
The Greek half of Cyprus holds a large contingent of British military, set in Sovereign Base Areas containing some 11,000 people, but Cyprus is a member of the European Union and has no plans to withdraw. As a result, the British army bases on Cypriot soil would all stay in the bloc’s customs union should May’s withdrawal agreement be voted through. In the case of a no-deal exit, the mostly farming breadbasket of the SBAs would be left in legal limbo, unable to trade and unable to object to the UK government.

Cypriots and expat residents are totally in the dark about the facts of either Brexit option, with those involved in exporting farm produce to Europe confused about customs duties, border inspections and much else, as EU law doesn’t apply to the SBA farms. The area itself is split into two sectors, with Akrotiri’s Western Base Area located close to Limassol and the Eastern Base at Dhekelia in the heart of Cyprus’s farming region. In addition, the Eastern base gives the only land access to the tourist party beach town of Aghia Napa. Both areas are classed as British Overseas Territories, and no-one in either region has been given any guidance as to the potential effect of Brexit on the areas.

According to senior EU officials, the issue is legally complicated, but the bloc’s leaders’ aim is to ensure there’s no disruption in the two areas as a result of Brexit, thus making certain nothing actually changes and that no control over goods should be put in place. Both the Cypriot and British governments are working to make a seamless transition possible, with the SBAs functioning in every way as they have for decades. Unfortunately, just as with British expats everywhere in Europe, there’s very little concrete information on which to base hopes that life won’t suddenly become uncomfortably complicated.
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