Cyprus withholds comment on reports about secret American air base

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, October 11, 2018
Adjust font size:

NICOSIA, Oct. 10 (Xinhua) -- Cyprus refused on Wednesday to comment on a United States official report claiming that an American helicopter base operated secretly on the eastern Mediterranean island for four years before being shut down in 2017.

"The government of the Republic has no comment. Questions should be addressed to the U.S. authorities," government spokesman Prodromos Prodromou told the Cyprus News Agency.

State television quoted Cypriot security officials as telling that the secret American base had nothing to do with the Republic of Cyprus as it had been operating in a separate area within the British Sovereign air base at Akrotiri, next to the southern city port of Limassol.

State television also said that it applied to the base authorities but they refused to comment and referred them to the American embassy in Cyprus.

The existence and operation of the base was revealed by American ABC television channel which quoted a report from the State Department Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

The report did not specify the location of the base, but it said that the State Department spent over 70.9 million dollars on the base that was "quickly set up and served little clear purpose before its quiet closing last year."

It said the base was established in September 2013 and closed in August 2017, hosting five helicopters and approximately 40 government contractors at a cost of about 20 million dollars per year.

The OIG report stated that the base "provided the department a regional contingency capability with a focus on air bridge support to Embassy Beirut and assisted in the transportation and (if needed) the evacuation of personnel from the embassy".

The report was evidently aimed to be critical of the State Department for maintaining a regional air base for more than three years without conducting a cost-benefit analysis "to determine the aviation capacity needed or the appropriate resource allocation to support the mission."

The report was also critical of the opening and closing of the base without approval by the State Department's Aviation Governing Board.

The OIG report said that in its four years of operation the base assisted with only one evacuation from Sinai.

Two former U.S. officials familiar with the Cyprus air base were quoted by ABC News as saying that the base seemed to serve no clear purpose.

One of the officials was quoted as saying that for the most part the contractor pilots spent their time flying over the island to keep up their proficiency.

ABC quoted Patrick Kennedy, the retired senior State Department official who made the decision to establish the base at the time, as saying that it was established to serve a purpose due to the very real security concerns in the region, and that there were no other options.

The only major regional event close to the establishment of the base was the attack in Benghazi, Libya, a year earlier.

An American official told ABC that this might have been the logic behind the establishment of the secret base on Cyprus.

News about the operation of a secret American base prompted criticism by left wing AKEL party against the Cypriot government.

A party official said that the base was either established without the knowledge of the Cypriot government, which had just succeeded the previous left wing government of AKEL, or operated with its knowledge.

In either case, the official said, the government was to be blamed for the existence and operation for four years of a secret American air base.

Two British bases in Cyprus are considered to be British sovereign territory under the 1960 Treaty of Establishment of the Cyprus Republic. Enditem

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from