US lifts Cyprus arms embargo, Turkey claims decision will lead to ‘arms race’ in Mediterranean

todaySeptember 18, 2022

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The USA will carry a long-standing arms embargo on Cyprus in a transfer that has angered NATO ally Turkey. 

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken decided and authorized to Congress that the Republic of Cyprus has met the required situations beneath related laws to permit the approval of exports, re-exports, and transfers of protection articles for fiscal 12 months 2023,” State Division spokesman Ned Value stated on Friday.

The U.S. embargo on Cyprus remained in place since 1987 because the island remained divided following a Turkish invasion that established a breakaway state. The embargo had compelled Cyprus to more and more flip to Russia for weaponry because it couldn’t purchase even defensive weaponry, similar to night time imaginative and prescient goggles, in the event that they contained any American elements. 

With the intention to get the embargo lifted, Cyprus needed to set up a number of monetary regulatory oversight reforms, similar to denying Russian army vessels entry to ports, and at last met situations that the U.S. felt had been adequate to show it a dependable buying and selling accomplice. 


Endy Zemenides, government director of the Hellenic American Management Council (HALC), famous that Cyprus had made the Group for Financial Cooperation and Growth (OECD) white checklist, that means that Cyprus has fulfilled commitments to transparency and exchanges of knowledge for tax functions. 

Cypriot Navy particular forces and US Navy SEALS participate in a joint US-Cyprus rescue train within the port of the southern Cypriot port metropolis of Limassol on September 10, 2021. 
(Photograph by IAKOVOS HATZISTAVROU/AFP by way of Getty Photographs)

“This represents the final vestige of … Russification or rising Russian affect in Cyprus about ten years in the past when Cyprus went via its banking disaster,” Zemenides defined to Fox Information Digital. “Folks had been saying, ‘hey, you recognize Russians are hiding cash or laundering cash in Cyprus,’ [and] Cyprus received very aggressive on cash laundering, received very aggressive on banking transparency.”


The U.S. had partially lifted the embargo in 2020 and allowed for Cyprus to purchase non-lethal army items, indicating that Cyprus was not far off from a complete embargo carry. 

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades hailed the U.S. choice as a “landmark” announcement that brings him “nice satisfaction.” 

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer walk during a welcome ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus July 13, 2022. 

Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer stroll throughout a welcome ceremony on the Presidential Palace in Nicosia, Cyprus July 13, 2022. 
(Reuters/Yiannis Kourtoglou)

“It is a landmark choice, reflecting the burgeoning strategic relationship between the 2 nations, together with within the space of safety,” Anastasiades wrote on Twitter, occurring to thank Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who labored with the nation to verify it met the requirements as dictated by the East Mediterranean Safety and Power Partnership Act of 2019.

However Turkey’s overseas ministry urged the U.S. to rethink its choice, claiming that the dearth of an embargo will result in “an arms race” on the island that can hurt peace and stability within the jap Mediterranean. 


The ministry stated the choice would “additional strengthen the Greek Cypriot aspect’s intransigence and negatively have an effect on efforts to resettle the Cyprus problem.” 

Zemenides argued that any choice the U.S. takes at this level will solely anger Turkey, however the U.S. now views the east Mediterranean area as strategically necessary. 

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference, in Ankara, Turkey, on May 14. 

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks throughout a information convention, in Ankara, Turkey, on Might 14. 
(AP Photograph/Burhan Ozbilici)

“The jap Mediterranean has turn into a key area for america: It is a key battleground each within the battle in opposition to Russia and has been since a crimson line was by no means enforced in Syria,” Zemenides stated. “[Russia] has elevated its naval presence tenfold within the Mediterranean. Its base in Syria is ten occasions bigger, actually since 2014, and should you take a look at Cyprus, Cyprus is a everlasting plane provider.”


“The USA safety relationship with Cyprus due to this arms embargo was simply not serving U.S. nationwide safety pursuits in a area the place Russia is selecting up, the place China has prolonged its belt and highway initiative,” he added. “Have a look at the shores proper throughout from Cyprus: You’ve gotten Hamas on these shores, you might have Hezbollah on these shores, you might have Islamic Jihad on our shores, and to not be capable to have Cyprus as an asset due to this arms embargo was ridiculous.” 

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