The United States will lift a 33-year arms embargo on Cyprus and deepen its security cooperation with Nicosia, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced during a phone call with the President of the Republic of Cyprus Nicos Anastasiades.
According to reports, the lifting of the ban will be effective for a year and could be extended after that. The same reports note that officials said that the decision is not related to recent developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, nor does it signal a change in Washington’s foreign policy on the Cyprus issue.
"I welcome the lifting of the #US arms embargo on non-lethal defense articles. A positive development which reinforces further the bilateral security relationship between #Cyprus and the #UnitedStates," the President of the Republic of Cyprus posted on twitter.
During our phone call with @SecPompeo, we both expressed our serious concerns on the volatile situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. We further stressed the importance to ease tensions in the region, in view of #Turkey's aggressive behaviour. pic.twitter.com/hmZpEd6hr1
— Nicos Anastasiades (@AnastasiadesCY) September 1, 2020
In 1974, Turkey invaded the northern parts of the island to prevent Cyprus from uniting with Greece and to this day continues an illegal occupation. The occupation is to maintain the quasi “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” that is recognized by no other state in the world bar Turkey and is recognized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 541 and UN Security Council Resolution 550 as illegal.
In 1987, the U.S. embargoed arms sales to Cyprus under the pretext of preventing an arms build-up on the island and encourage reunification efforts.
"The Republic of Cyprus is a key partner in the Eastern Mediterranean. I am pleased to announce that we are deepening our security cooperation. We will waive restrictions on the sale of non-lethal defense articles and services to the Republic of Cyprus for the coming fiscal year," the US Secretary of State tweeted.
The Republic of Cyprus is a key partner in the Eastern Mediterranean. I am pleased to announce that we are deepening our security cooperation. We will waive restrictions on the sale of non-lethal defense articles and services to the Republic of Cyprus for the coming fiscal year.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 1, 2020
In response, Turkey's Foreign Ministry said the decision "disregards the equality and balance" on the island and that Ankara expects its NATO ally to "review" it.
"Otherwise, Turkey, as a guarantor country, will take the necessary reciprocal steps in line with its legal and historical responsibility to guarantee the security of the Turkish Cypriot people," it said in a statement.