A historic decision: The United States has decided to lift the long-standing arms embargo on Cyprus. The 33 year old embargo against the island has forced to look to Russia for equipment. The lifting of the arms embargo has angered Turkey, as expected.
“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 for fiscal year 2023,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said on Friday.
Price added the International Traffic in Arms Regulations will be amended to reflect the new policy, effective October 1, 2022.
The 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.
The requirements fulled by Cyprus were set with 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.
President Nikos Anastasiades and the Foreign Ministry hailed the decision:
It is with great satisfaction that I welcome the announcement by 🇺🇸 @StateDept on the complete lifting of the U.S. arms embargo on Cyprus🇨🇾. This is a landmark decision, reflecting the burgeoning strategic relationship between the two countries, including in the area of security.
— Nicos Anastasiades (@AnastasiadesCY) September 17, 2022
We welcome the decision by #US @StateDept to proceed with the full lifting of 1987 Arms Embargo against #Cyprus | A political milestone that illustrates the continuous deepening of 🇺🇸🇨🇾 strategic partnership in #Security & #Defence as an integral part of regional stablity mosaic pic.twitter.com/GV70Jo8mwB
— Cyprus MFA (@CyprusMFA) September 17, 2022
While there are cheers in Cyprus, there are tears in Turkey.
Ankara reacted with anger and the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning the decision.
“The US decision to lift the arms embargo towards the Greek Cyprus Administration nstwill negatively affect the efforts to resettle the Cyprus issue; and it will lead to an arms race on the Island, harming peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean,” the statement said.
It claimed that this decision “contradicts the principle of equality of the two sides on the Island.”
The Foreign Ministry called on US “reconsider this decision and to pursue a balanced policy towards the two sides on the Island” adding that Turkey “as guarantor country, in line with its legal and historical responsibilities, will continue to take necessary steps for the existence, security and serenity of the Turkish Cypriots.”
PS “equality of the two sides on Cyprus”? Equality between an internationally recognized state and an illegally occupied formation?