US Senator Bob Menendez said that his goal is “to see the last Turkish soldier leave Cyprus,” during a visit to the island nation on Monday.
Menendez, who is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been a consistent supporter of Greece and Cyprus and a staunch critic of Turkish President Erdogan’s policies in eastern Mediterranean. He was instrumental in passing legislation ending the US arms embargo on the Republic.
As Menendez received Cyprus’ highest order of merit, bestowed by President Nicos Anastasiades, he declared: “My commitment to this relationship, to Cyprus is deep, longstanding and will endure as long as I am a US Senator. My goal is to see the last Turkish soldier leave the island.”
Anastasiades presented Menendez with the Grand Cross of the Order of Makarios III during a ceremony at the presidential palace. The Grand Cross is one of six grades of the Order of Makarios III – the highest order of merit awarded by the Republic of Cyprus.
During the ceremony, the Senator said Cyprus was “a special place”.
“I look at what this great Republic has done for its people, and I look at the other side of the other green line and I say what an incredibly lost opportunity for the people of the north,” he said.
“If the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots were left to their own negotiations then they could find a pathway forward for the reunification,” he added.
Referring to the Cyprus problem, he said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s intent on implementing a two-state solution for Cyprus country flies in the face of UN Security Council resolutions and consensus developed over the years.
“It is wrong for all of the people of Cyprus,” he said.
Menendez: Greece and Cyprus are linchpins of democracy
Menendez arrived in Cyprus from Athens, where last week he held talks with Greece’s leadership.
Speaking at the Acropolis Museum Menendez said on Thursday that the destinies of Greece and the United States have always been connected on the basis of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, and the relationship between them has never been stronger.
“Greece and Cyprus are linchpins of democracy in the eastern Mediterranean,” he declared, adding that the US will leverage the tripartite partnership of these two countries with Israel.
He asserted he is as committed to championing the tripartite partnership as he is to the completion of the US-Greece Defense Partnership Act of 2021.
Earlier on Thursday Menendez met with Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis. Welcoming the chair of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mitsotakis described him as a “good friend of Greece.” He also noted that Menendez has placed the strategic importance of the Eastern Mediterranean at the center of US foreign policy.