POLITICS: Cyprus will study opinion on Mauritius for its UK bases

The opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that the UK illegally carved up Mauritius when it ended its colonization of the Indian Ocean islands needs to be considered further, Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said on Tuesday.

Judges ruled the United Kingdom has an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible, and that all Member States must co-operate with the United Nations to complete the decolonization of Mauritius.

This is something that needs to be considered further, it is an advisory opinion and the issue is not only about studying the decision, it is also about if, whether and when you raise a similar request, and whether this is warranted, said Anastasiades.

Cypriot Attorney general Costas Clerides said the United Nations top court ruling on Mauritius is a “legal tool” Nicosia could use to negotiate the status of two sovereign British military bases on the island.

Clerides argues the “landmark” opinion underscores that such issues must be examined under current international legal principles and not those of the past.

Britain retained two military bases on Cyprus when the country gained independence from British colonial rule in 1960.

But Clerides said this may be challenged because agreements signed under conditions that prevailed during that time were “far removed” from what could be considered as an “exercise in free will.”

Britain says it will look “carefully” at a United Nations’ court ruling that it should relinquish control of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean, while stressing that the court’s view is “an advisory opinion, not a judgment.”

The opinion is non-binding but represents a victory for 2,000 islanders who were evicted by Britain in the 1960s and 70s to make way for a U.S. military base on one of the islands, Diego Garcia.

In a statement after the court’s ruling, Britain’s Foreign Office said, “the defence facilities on the British Indian Ocean Territory help to protect people here in Britain and around the world from terrorist threats, organized crime and piracy.”

Mauritius argued that the Chagos archipelago was part of its territory since at least the 18th century and was taken unlawfully by the United Kingdom in 1965, three years before Mauritius gained independence. Britain insists it has sovereignty over the archipelago, which it calls the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Source: The Financial Mirror