Nicosia.- By Maria Koniotou/CNA
Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said on Saturday that the Republic of Cyprus wants the status of EU citizens to continue to apply and be recognized within the Sovereign Base Areas (SBAs) on the island, adding that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will work to secure this goal.
In statements to the press about the result of the UK referendum, Kasoulides said the Ministry will deal with this issue, recalling that two agreements were made in the framework of Cyprus` EU Accession Treaty, one between the Republic of Cyprus and the United Kingdom and one between the United Kingdom and the EU, to secure that EU citizens will continue to enjoy rights and privileges in SBAs territory as they do throughout Europe.
“We will settle this accordingly. We have two years ahead of us to do it,” he noted.
Asked about the steps to be taken with regard to Cyprus – UK bilateral relations, Kasoulides said that most of the issues, concerning the economy, trade, the banking sector, and other concerns will be settled at the EU level.
Kasoulides stressed that the EU must not only stay calm but it must also maintain a wise and firm position showing that it has control of developments, continuity and readiness to address all issues.
Referring to the time needed to see a successor to David Cameron, Kasoulides pointed out that “the gap in terms of time and the uncertainty will have repercussions on the markets and on public opinion in all members states, and therefore both sides need to take decisions on this issue.”
The Foreign Minister said that the EU heads of state and government, who will meet in Luxembourg on Tuesday, will give instructions to the European Commission on how to work and plan the next steps. He said that the 27 will also have an informal discussion and therefore one has to wait for the result of the European Council to see which the next steps will be.
Referring to the meeting of the EU 27 Foreign Ministers, which he attended, which British Minister for Europe David Lidington also attended, Kasoulides said that most participants referred to the need for everyone to show respect to the decision of the people of the United Kingdom “despite the fact that it was sad for us that they took this decision.”
He also noted that most Foreign Ministers requested that the process for the UK`s exit from the EU begins the soonest possible, and recalled that this will take place on the basis of the relevant provision of Lisbon Treaty article 50.
A period of two years will be needed for this to be concluded, Kasoulides said, adding that meanwhile the UK will continue to be an EU member to which EU law applies and for which there are obligations as for all other member states.
Asked about the issue of the British Bases in Cyprus, Kasoulides said that “our goal is to ensure that the status of the EU citizens, as it was negotiated and implemented in the framework of the agreement on Cyprus` EU Accession Agreement and of the bilateral agreement between the Republic of Cyprus and the UK, continues to apply (in the SBAs)”.
Referring to the fact that the sterling suffered a big plunge after the decision for Brexit, Kasoulides said that this was worrying, however this does not mean that the sterling will remain as today`s levels.
Moreover he noted that packages of British tourists visiting Cyprus this summer have been pre-sold, and therefore at first thought there is no particular concern, as Finance Minister, Harris Georgiades has said, adding that all necessary arrangements will be made in the next two years.
As regards the issue of Cypriots studying in the UK, Kasoulides said he did not think those who are currently studying there will be affected in terms of their fees.
Referring to the Cypriots non-permanent UK residents working in the country, he recalled that Cyprus is a Commonwealth member, enjoying a certain status as regards this issue. “Those who currently work there have a permit to do so and are not affected,” he assured.
As regards the British citizens of Cypriot origin, he said they will be treated in the same way as other British citizens.
Akrotiri and Dhekelia, which include British military bases and installations, were retained by the British under the 1960 Cyprus` Treaty of Independence.