Cyprus was part of the British Empire from 1914, under military occupation from 1914 to 1925 and as a Crown Colony from 1925 to 1960. Cyprus' status as a protectorate of the British Empire ended in 1914 when the Ottoman Empire declared war on the Triple Entente powers, which included Britain. With Turkey and Greece closer to the conflict than they have been in years, Nick Clark explains why Cyprus has been a focus of attention for the imperialist powers, especially Britain. However, even if the two sides manage to agree to the departure of Turkish troops, there will still be another foreign military presence in Cyprus.
When the British Empire collapsed, its rulers accepted their new place in the world as second fiddle to the United States. According to Google Maps, it and a power station opposite it are part of the Republic of Cyprus, while the road that divides them belongs to the UK. What makes the Cyprus bases unique is that they are British sovereign territories located on the soil of another sovereign country. Up to 40,000 Turkish troops are believed to be in northern Cyprus, which only Turkey recognises as a state.
Brexit could complicate matters further, Tzimitras believes; he foresees the need for bilateral renegotiations between Cyprus and Britain, which "could be a bit of an awkward discussion, because it would immediately bring to light other complicated situations such as, for example, Gibraltar". Cyprus is where British warplanes fly from whenever they are sent to bomb neighbouring Syria or Iraq. When Grivas attempted a coup in Cyprus in 1974, with the support of the Greek military junta, Turkey invaded the north. But it also had to contend with a nationalist movement for enosis, organised by Greek Cypriot politicians and religious leaders in resistance to British rule.
There are numerous British overseas territories around the world, and the UK is not the only country with military bases abroad. In the view of former diplomat William Mallinson, the current strategic value of Cyprus must be seen in the context of a centuries-old paranoia about Russia. Instead of unity with Greece, Britain offered Cyprus independence with a deal that allowed it to keep Akrotiri and Dhekelia. When the country faced financial difficulties in the 1960s and 1970s, the defence bill was reduced, but while bases elsewhere were being liquidated, the US would not let Britain leave Cyprus.
They decided to give up Cyprus as long as they could keep the military bases that helped them become America's junior partner.