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Akrotiri (UK Sovereign Base Area)

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The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia (abbr. SBA; Greek: Περιοχές Κυρίαρχων Βάσεων Ακρωτηρίου και Δεκέλιας, Periochés Kyríarchon Váseon Akrotiríou ke Dekélias; Turkish: Ağrotur ve Dikelya İngiliz Egemen Üs Bölgeleri) is a British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprus. The areas, which include British military bases and installations, as well as other land, were retained by the British under the 1960 treaty of independence, signed by the United Kingdom, Greece, Turkey and representatives from the Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities, which granted independence to the Crown colony of Cyprus. The territory serves an important role as a station for signals intelligence and provides a vital strategic part of the United Kingdom surveillance gathering network in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Following UK permission, the United States was given a limited, short-term presence on the British bases between 2013 and 2017.

Military History

Further information: History of Cyprus since 1878

Inside the officers' mess, c. March 1969

The Sovereign Base Areas were created in 1960 by the London and Zürich Agreements, when Cyprus achieved independence from the British Empire. The United Kingdom desired to retain sovereignty over these areas, as this guaranteed the use of UK military bases on Cyprus, including RAF Akrotiri, and a garrison of the British Army. The importance of the bases to the British is based on the strategic location of the island, at the eastern edge of the Mediterranean, close to the Suez Canal and the Middle East; the ability to use the RAF base as staging post for military aircraft; and for training.

Garrison officers mess Dhekelia, 1969

In July and August 1961, there were a series of bomb attacks against the pipeline carrying fresh water to the Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area.[ The pipeline was breached by explosions twelve times.

In 1974, following a military coup by the Cypriot National Guard attempting to achieve enosis (union with Greece), Turkey invaded the north of Cyprus, leading to the establishment of the internationally unrecognised Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. This did not affect the status of the bases. Greek Cypriots fleeing from the Turkish forces were permitted to travel through the Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area and were given humanitarian aid, with those from Achna setting up a new village (Dasaki Achnas or Achna Forest) which is still in the Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area. The Turkish advance halted when it reached the edge of the Dhekelia Sovereign Base Area to avoid military conflict with the United Kingdom. In the Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area a tented refugee camp was set up at "Happy Valley" (part of the Episkopi Cantonment) to house Turkish Cypriots fleeing from Limassol and the villages surrounding the Area, until in 1975 they were flown out of RAF Akrotiri via Turkey to northern Cyprus. Some Greek Cypriot refugees remain housed on land in the parts of Trachoni and Kolossi villages that fall within the Akrotiri Sovereign Base Area.

Source: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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