From Green Party England and Wales

15 August 2002

UK accused over Cyprus mast proposal

You wouldn't get away with it here - so don't do it in Cyprus, say top UK Greens

The UK's leading Green politicians have condemned the government's bid to build a 190-metre telecom mast at a British army base in Cyprus.

The joint statement of support for a Cypriot MP arrested during protests against the mast plan has been signed by Green peer Lord Beaumont, Robin Harper MSP, the UK Green MEPs, a spokesperson for Wales Green Party/Plaid Werdd Cymru, and the leader of the Greens on the London Assembly.

Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London, explains: "The mast would ravage an area designated a Ramsar site (1) (2) and listed as a wetland of international importance.

"Britain really shouldn't be messing up another country's environment."

The Greens believe the British government is seeking to rush the plan through before Cyprus joins the EU - after which the area, which is home to fairy shrimps and pink flamingos, would demand special protection under EU law.

Cypriot MP is "monkey on a stick," says High Commissioner

Penny Kemp, chair of the Green Party of England & Wales, adds: "The manner in which Britain's representatives have responded to the protests has been frankly imperialistic and dictatorial.

"It's outrageous that the British High Commissioner actually described a Cypriot Green MP as a 'medical monkey stuck up a stick'." (4)

She continues: "Whilst we don't condone any violent protest, arrogant comments with racial overtones from a UK High Commissioner suggest a far from constructive attitude on Britain's part."

Jean Lambert added: "Britain should be embarrassed and ashamed at the proposed degradation of a valuable ecological site in Cyprus.

"We vehemently oppose the actions which, although on British sovereign land, will have far reaching implications for the environment in Cyprus."



The Convention on Wetlands came into force for Cyprus on 11 November 2001. Cyprus presently has 1 site designated as a Wetland of International Importance, with a surface area of 1,585 hectares.

Larnaca Salt Lake. 11/07/01; 1,585 hectares; 34°52'N 033°33'E. Protected area. A highly saline seasonal lake which supports significant numbers of overwintering and stopover waterbirds. The basis of its productivity is the unicellular alga Dunaniella salina, which supports "fairy shrimps" Artemia salina and Branchianella spinosa (especially in the "airport lake" southern arm of the main lake, adjacent to Larnaka International Airport), which forms the main food for flamingos, chiefly Phoenicopterus ruber. Water levels do not exceed one meter, and salt flat halophytic communities fringe much of the lakeside. An important Muslim shrine, Hala Sultan Tekke, as well as a late Bronze Age archaeological site and an impressive 18th century aqueduct, add interest to the site. Private land, both Greek and Turkish Cypriot, fringe part of the lake, but the lagoons are state-owned and further acquisitions are planned, except for areas owned by Moslem and Christian Orthodox religious organizations, which are constitutionally protected from acquisition. The site was made a protected area in 1997 and a management plan is in place; an information centre and hides are planned. Urban development in the north and east of the lake and airport traffic in the south are seen as potential problems, but a shooting club facility is being relocated outside the reserve in order to reduce the threat from lead shot. Ramsar site no. 1081.

2. Source: Cyprus news agency:

Cyprus ratifies the Ramsar Convention

The Cyprus Government ratified yesterday the 1971 Ramsar Convention for the protection of wetlands of international importance.

The aim of the Ramsar Convention is the preservation and rational utilization of wetlands, mainly through protection programmes, recognizing them as ecosystems of particular importance for the preservation and protection of biodiversity.

It must be noted that only about 900 wetlands worldwide have been included in the list of important wetlands of the Convention. Cyprus has requested the Larnaca Salt Lake to be included in the list of important wetlands.

The Ramsar Convention has already been ratified by all the European Union member states, by the associated members as well as by all the Mediterranean states.

3. Jennie Matthew and Jamie Wilson in Akrotiri and Richard Norton-Taylor
Thursday July 5, 2001
The Guardian <>

The British and Cypriot governments yesterday united in condemning bloody riots, prompted by the building of a radio mast branded a serious health hazard by protesters, which have shaken Britain's military presence on the Mediterranean island.

Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides lambasted an MP for inciting the violence, while the British high commissioner to Cyprus described the MP as "a medical monkey stuck up a stick".
In a night of unprecedented violence against the sovereign British bases, about 1,000 Greek Cypriot demonstrators clashed with 140 riot squad officers, drawn from the police and the British army.

The riot was provoked by the arrest of a Cypriot MP, Marios Matsakis, who is leading a campaign to halt plans to erect a 190-metre radio mast in the Akrotiri salt lake in one of the island's two British sovereign base areas.

Environmentalists fear the electromagnetic field created by the antenna will cause child cancer and ruin the natural habitat of the lake, frequented by pink flamingos in winter and spring.

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