Lifting of Defense Trade Restrictions on the Republic of Cyprus for Fiscal Year 2023
SEPTEMBER 16, 2022
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 to the Republic of Cyprus for fiscal year 2023. Compliance with the conditions is assessed on an annual basis. As a result of this determination and certification, the Secretary lifted the defense trade restrictions for the Republic of Cyprus for fiscal year 2023. The International Traffic in Arms Regulations will be amended to reflect the new policy, effective October 1, 2022.
The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 and the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2020 require that the policy of denial for exports, re-exports, or transfers of defense articles on the United States Munitions List to the Republic of Cyprus remain in place unless the President determines and certifies to the appropriate congressional committees not less than annually that the Government of the Republic of Cyprus is continuing to cooperate with the United States government in efforts to implement reforms on anti-money 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 refueling and servicing. In accordance with both Acts, the Department reviews compliance with the Acts annually.
Turkey condemns US further easing of Cyprus arms embargo
Washington imposed the embargo in 1987 to encourage the island’s reunification, and partially lifted it in September 2020.
BY LEONIE CATER
SEPTEMBER 17, 2022 11:43 AM
The Turkish Foreign Ministry on Saturday “strongly” condemned the U.S.’s announcement that it will widen the scope of its 2020 decision to lift its arms embargo on Cyprus.
The move is “in contradiction to the principle of equality of the two sides on the island,” the ministry said in a statement. The development will “further strengthen the Greek Cypriot side’s intransigence, will 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 ministry added.
It called on the U.S. to reconsider the decision and “pursue a balanced policy towards the two sides on the island.”
The northern third of the island has been occupied by Turkey since 1974. The U.S. imposed the arms embargo in 1987 to encourage the island’s reunification, and partially lifted it in September 2020.
The U.S. State Department on Friday said Cyprus had “met the necessary conditions under relevant legislation to allow the approval of exports, re-exports, and transfers of defense articles to the Republic of Cyprus for fiscal year 2023.”
Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on Twitter welcomed the U.S. announcement as a “landmark decision, reflecting the burgeoning strategic relationship between the two countries, including in the area of security.”
The Turkish ministry said it will “continue to take necessary steps for the existence, security and serenity of the Turkish Cypriots, by all means.”
It Is Time To Arm Cyprus
By Michael Rubin
Forty-five years ago, the U.S. Congress imposed an arms embargo on Cyprus. “Defense articles of United States origin may not be transferred to or used on Cyprus by Turkey or Greece,” the amendment to the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act read. The logic of the arms embargo was two-fold: deny weaponry in order to encourage diplomacy and avoid a regional arms race.
It failed. Not only did the embargo punish Cyprus for Turkey’s invasion more than a decade before, but subsequent diplomacy also went nowhere.
Turkey simply doubled down on its occupation. Today, Turkey uses its military might to occupy portions of Syria and Iraq, threaten Greece, and it pursues ethnic cleansing against Kurds, Yezidis, and Armenians. Egemen Bagis, one of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s closest advisors and today his ambassador in Prague, even threatened to use force against Americans. Over the past two years, Turkey has shredded the status quo on the island with unilateral moves toward Varosha. It has even established a drone base at an airstrip in occupied northern Cyprus from which it can threaten much of the Eastern Mediterranean.
Two years ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo moved to right the wrong and roll back the arms embargo. In practice, however, the Pentagon only chipped away at it, though, providing Cyprus non-lethal goods. As the Biden administration considers the future of the embargo, it is time to do far more and arm Cyprus.