Greek Cypriots can buy arms from US in new anti-Russia move
TURKEY and North Cyprus are incandescent after the United States decided to lift the arms embargo on the Greek Cypriot Administration of South Cyprus.
In a statement, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said “we strongly condemn the expansion of the scope of the decision” following the partial lifting of the embargo, in place since 1987, in 2020.
It added that the decision is “in contradiction to the principle of equality of the two sides on the island” and will “further strengthen the Greek Cypriot side’s intransigence”, “negatively affect the efforts to resettle the Cyprus issue”
and “lead to an arms race on the island, harming peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean”.
The Turkish Foreign Ministry called on the US to “reconsider this decision and to pursue a balanced policy towards the two sides on the island”, and that Turkey will use “all means” to ensure the “existence, security and serenity of the Turkish Cypriots”.
Reaction in North Cyprus was no less fierce, with the Foreign Ministry saying the decision comes “at the expense of escalating tension on the island and in the region” and is “unacceptable”.
A statement said the continued amassing of arms by the Greek Cypriot side has reached an “alarming level” which is now being “condoned” by the US.
“It is difficult to believe in the sincerity of the United States of America when it has decided to arm the Greek Cypriot side, while on the other hand claiming to support an agreement reached between the two sides on the island and preserving stability in the region,” the statement said.
“[We expect] all third parties, including the USA, to withdraw their support to the provocative activities of the Greek Cypriot side and to assist the two states on the island towards reaching a viable agreement . . . on the basis of their sovereign equality and equal international status.”
In contrast, Greek Cypriot politicians were delighted at the lifting of the arms embargo.
Greek Cypriot leader Nicos Anastasiades called it a “landmark decision, reflecting the burgeoning strategic relationship between the two countries, including in the area of security”.
The Greek Cypriot foreign ministry described it as a “political milestone that illustrates the continuous deepening of US-Cyprus strategic partnership in security and defence as an integral part of the regional stability mosaic”.
Greek Foreign Minister Nicos Dendias said: “I believe that this decision is a political milestone for the relations between the Republic of Cyprus and the United States.”
At present, it is not clear exactly which weapons or equipment the Greek Cypriot Administration will now be able to purchase as a result of the lifting of the embargo.
US Department of State spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had “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 defence articles to the Republic of Cyprus for [the] fiscal year 2023”.
He added that America’s “International Traffic in Arms Regulations” will be amended “to reflect the new policy, effective October 1, 2022”.
Mr Price also said that the US President must annually certify that the Greek Cypriot Administration “is continuing to cooperate with the United States government in efforts to implement reforms on antimoney laundering regulations and financial regulatory oversight” and that the “Government of the Republic of Cyprus has made and is continuing to take the steps necessary to deny Russian military vessels access to ports for refuelling and servicing” for the arms embargo to remain lifted.