Ankara condemns US for lifting arms embargo on Greek Cyprus

Ankara condemns US for lifting arms embargo on Greek Cyprus

Ankara condemns US for lifting arms embargo on Greek Cyprus

Türkiye has strongly condemned the expansion of the scope of the decision taken by the U.S. in September 2020 to lift the arms embargo on Greek Cyprus, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has said.

In a statement issued on Sept. 17, the ministry highlighted that the country “fully supports” the reaction of Turkish Cyprus authorities regarding the decision.

On Sept. 16, the U.S. totally lifted the arms embargo on Greek Cyprus for a year, which started in 1987, and partially lifted it two years ago.

Greek Cyprus leader Nikos Anastasiadis called the decision a “milestone,” as Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar criticized it saying, “The Greek Cypriots will take courage and increase the tension.”

“We can not be a mere spectator, and we will take action,” Tatar added.

Ankara called on the U.S. to “reconsider the decision” and “pursue a balanced policy towards the two sides on the island.”

“This decision, which is in contradiction to the principle of equality of the two sides on the island and which 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 Foreign Ministry stated.

“The international community, including the U.S., should reaffirm the sovereign equality and equal international status of the Turkish Cypriot people, which were also confirmed by the 1959-60 Agreements, and act accordingly,” it said.

“In any case, Türkiye, as a guarantor country, in line with its legal and historical responsibilities, will continue to take necessary steps for the existence, security and serenity of the Turkish Cypriots, by all means.”

The U.S. State Department said the reason behind the decision was to “decrease the Russian influence on the region.”

State Department spokesperson Ned Price, on Sept. 17, underlined that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken determined and certified to Congress that the Greek Cypriots “met the necessary conditions under relevant legislation to allow the approval of exports, re-exports, and transfers of defense articles for the fiscal year 2023.”

“Compliance with the conditions is assessed on an annual basis,” Price said. “As a result of this determination and certification, the secretary lifted the defense trade restrictions for the fiscal year 2023.”

According to the Greek Cypriot media, Anastasiadis learned about the decision on a phone call with Blinken and then thanked U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, a prominent U.S.-Greek lobby figure, for his efforts on the decision.

Following the decision, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias tweeted, “I welcome and express my deep satisfaction for the decision of Blinken regarding the full lifting of the arms embargo by the U.S.”