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US Congress asks State Department and Pentagon to submit report on US arms embargo on Cyprus

A provision regarding US – Cyprus security relations and the US arms embargo against Cyprus, has been included in the $717 billion defence bill signed earlier this week by US President Trump. The same bill includes an amendment preventing sales to Turkey of the F-35 fighter jets.

The bill foresees that not later than 180 days after the date of its enactment, the Secretary of Defence and the Secretary of State shall jointly submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report on the security relationship between the US and the Republic of Cyprus.

The report shall include:

(1) A description of ongoing military and security cooperation between the United States and the Republic of Cyprus.

(2) A discussion of potential steps for enhancing the bilateral security relationship between the United States and the Republic of Cyprus, including steps to enhance the military and security capabilities of the Republic of Cyprus.

(3) An analysis of the effectiveness of the United States arms embargo policy to deny applications for licences and other approvals for the export of defence articles and defence services to the armed forces of the Republic of Cyprus, and the impact of such United States policy on (a) the bilateral security relationship between the United States and the Republic of Cyprus; and (b) the ability of the United States and partners of the United States to achieve shared security objectives in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

(4) An analysis of the extent to which such United States policy is consistent with overall United States security and policy objectives in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

(5) An assessment of the potential impact of lifting such United States policy on United States interests relating to the Republic of Cyprus and the Eastern Mediterranean region.

“The passage of Section 1277 in the NDAA is a key milestone for one of HALC’s top legislative priorities: the lifting of the Cyprus Arms Embargo” said Executive Director of the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) Endy Zemenides.

“This provision in the NDAA brings us one step closer to lifting the counterproductive arms embargo on the Republic of Cyprus and achieving the strategic upgrade of Cyprus that has been declared as a goal of the Trump Administration by Assistant Secretary of State Wes Mitchell,” he noted.

Zemenides stressed that Cyprus has established itself as a frontline state for Western security interests and a critical partner in a turbulent Eastern Mediterranean.

“For far too long, the United States has granted Turkey a de facto veto over a closer strategic relationship with the Republic of Cyprus. The NDAA brings us one step closer to a better policy”.

He thanked the AJC for advocating for this and commended Senator Bob Menendez and Congressman David Cicilline for submitting the two amendments before the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. In 1987, the US placed restrictions on the transfer of arms and defensive material to Cyprus.  Turkey has found a way to circumvent the arms embargo by placing tens of thousands of Turkish troops armed with American weapons in the northern part of Cyprus.  The arms embargo has forced the Republic of Cyprus to purchase weapons from other nations.

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