Cyprus praises US decision to completely lift arms embargo

NICOSIA, Cyprus – Cyprus on Saturday hailed the complete lifting of the US arms embargo on the ethnically divided island nation as a milestone that reaffirms the ever-closer bilateral relationship aimed at strengthening stability. in the turbulent eastern Mediterranean region.

President Nicos Anastasiades tweeted his gratitude to the Chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez, for helping lift the embargo.

Turkey, which maintains more than 35,000 troops in the northern third of Cyprus, condemned the decision. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry urged the US to reconsider, warning that the move would harm efforts for a peace deal in Cyprus, leading to an arms race on the island. and undermine stability in the region.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that Secretary of State Antony Blinken determined Cyprus met the conditions to allow “exports, re-exports, and transfers of defense items … fiscal year 2023.”

The United States will evaluate annually whether Cyprus is in compliance with the conditions for lifting the embargo, including implementing anti-money laundering regulations and denying Russian military ships access to ports for refueling. materials and maintenance.

Cyprus banned Russian warships from using its ports in early March following the invasion of Ukraine.

The conditions are spelled out in the East Mediterranean Energy and Security Partnership Act, which the US Congress passed in 2019. The act underscores US support for a closer relationship. between Greece, Cyprus and Israel based on recently discovered offshore gas fields.

The United States enacted an embargo in 1987 to prevent an arms race that could damage peace talks with the Cypriot breakaways of the Mediterranean island nation Turkey. Cyprus was divided in 1974 when Turkey invaded after a coup attempt to ally with Greece.

Banned from accessing US weapons, Cyprus has turned to Russia for the purchase of Mi-35 attack helicopters, T-80 tanks and Tor-M1 air defense missile systems.

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