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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsCyprusUS Lifts Arms Embargo on Cyprus, Turkey Left Fuming

US Lifts Arms Embargo on Cyprus, Turkey Left Fuming

US Cyprus
Cyprus Independence Day celebrations. Credit: Cyprus News Agency

The US lifted the arms embargo on Cyprus for the 2023 fiscal year, the State Department said Friday.

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken determined and certified to Congress that the Republic of Cyprus has met the necessary conditions under relevant legislation to allow the approval of exports, re-exports, and transfers of defense articles,” according to State Department spokesman Ned Price.

Price said the international traffic in arms regulations will be amended to reflect the new policy effective Oct. 1.

President Nicos Anastasiades hailed the announcement through Twitter.

Turkey’s foreign ministry said on Saturday it strongly condemned the expansion of a decision taken by the United States in September 2020 to lift its arms embargo on Cyprus.

The Turkish foreign ministry said this decision would “further strengthen the Greek Cypriot side’s intransigence and negatively affect efforts to resettle the Cyprus issue.”

“It will lead to an arms race on the Island, harming peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean,” the statement said, calling on the United States to reconsider its decision and to pursue a balanced policy towards the two sides on the island.

US policy requires the denial of exports, re-exports or transfers of defense articles to Cyprus unless the president determines and certifies to congressional committees authorities there are cooperating with Washington to implement anti-money laundering regulations and financial regulatory oversight reforms.

It also requires Cyprus to take steps to deny Russian military vessels access to ports for refueling and servicing.

Cyprus fulfilled the requirements of the US Security and Energy Partnership Act

Cyprus has now fulfilled all the requirements of the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 passed by the US Congress following a proposal by US Senators Bob Menendez and Marco Rubio.

The legislation led the US to partially lift its arms embargo against Cyprus in 2020 to allow for “non-lethal” military goods to be sold to the Republic, including military training programs.

In return, Cyprus was to refuse Russian military vessels docking in ports in the government-controlled areas among other stipulations.

The bipartisan Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act signed into law on December 20, 2020, is a comprehensive bill that recognizes the vital importance of Greece and Cyprus in the region.

The law:

Promotes the continued development of a new energy triangle in the Eastern Mediterranean by encouraging natural gas exploration (especially by the Republic of Cyprus in its Exclusive Economic Zone)

Lifts the outdated arms embargo on Cyprus, allowing it to purchase U.S. made military equipment

Provides millions for the International Military Educational Training program and Foreign Military Assistance to both Greece and Cyprus

Restricts the sale of F-35s to Turkey until Turkey becomes a more reliable ally and requires a joint resolution of Congress before F35s can be physically transferred to Turkey

Requires a report from the Departments of State, Defense and Energy on Turkish violations in the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean. Specifically, the report will examine Turkey’s encroachment on Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone and violations of Greek airspace.

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