Congressman David Cicilline introduces legislation to lift arms embargo on Cyprus

U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01) introduced on Friday the End the Cyprus Arms Embargo Act, according to the Greek American weekly newspaper Greek News.

The Republic of Cyprus is a critical strategic partner that has provided key support for the fight against ISIS in the Eastern Mediterranean, said Cicilline, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The embargo on the sale and transfer of military weapons to Cyprus, however, is outdated and an impediment to strengthening our relationship even further. It’s important that we lift this ban as soon as possible.

Cicilline’s legislation would repeal the provisions which prohibit the export and transfer of arms to the Republic of Cyprus. It would strengthen the security of a key partner in the region, enhance cooperation between the U.S. and Cyprus, and provide increased security to our European partners, he said. By ensuring a strong international coalition, the U.S. would be able to better combat the threat posed by the Islamic State, and guard against the increased influence of our nation’s adversaries in the region, he added.

The Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC) and its Executive Director Endy Zemenides has worked for months with members of Congress, to promote this legislation. In a statement to the Greek News he said It is time for the US to give substance the ‘strategic partnership’ declared by Vice President Biden in 2014. Lifting the arms embargo would be a good first step to cementing Cyprus’ status as a front line state for Western security interests.

In the following couple of months, Greek American community will use the opportunities of the HALC-AJC joint appeal in Congress and the PSEKA Conference to push for the legislation.

On Wednesday, Cypriot Defence Minister Savvas Angelides has asked US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for European and NATO Policy Thomas Goffus on the possibility of lifting the US embargo on the sale of military material during a meeting they had in Nicosia, noting the importance this will play in enhancing bilateral relations. According to a Cypriot Defence Ministry Press Release, the U.S. official promised to convey the arguments of the Cypriot minister regarding this issue upon his return to Washington.

During the meeting there was an exchange of views on the regional role of Cyprus and the cooperation Cyprus has been developing with countries which are allies of the United States in the region and how it can contribute in enhancing bilateral relations and combating terrorism, the Cypriot Defence Ministry press release said.

Angelides expressed our side’s will to further grow and deepen bilateral relations and cooperation in the areas of defence and security with the US.

The Cypriot minister assured the Pentagon official about Cyprus’ support in the fight the international coalition under the United States against terrorism while he also referred on the provocations against Cyprus by Turkey a NATO member state.

The two men also discussed energy planning and Goffus expressed support for the Republic of Cyprus’ plans within its Exclusive Economic Zone.

In 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus and the island was divided into the southern area controlled by the legal government of the Republic of Cyprus and the northern 37 percent of the island is occupied by Turkey.

In 1987, the U.S. placed restrictions on the transfer of arms and defensive material to Cyprus in an attempt to encourage reunification efforts and avoid an arms race on the island. 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.

Source: Cyprus News Agency