CYPRUS: Senator who aims to lift US arms embargo will visit Nicosia

US Democratic Senator Robert Menendez who backs a bipartisan bill seeking to lift the American arms embargo on Cyprus, will visit the island next week.

CNA reported that Menendez will arrive in Cyprus on April 15. Despite the fact his visit will be private, he is expected to hold meetings on April 16 with the President Nicos Anastasiades and Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulides.

He will certainly discuss with the President the lifting of the US arms embargo, the Cyprus problem and issues regarding Cyprus-US relations, a source told CNA in stressing the importance of Menendez’s stance on Cyprus.

Senators Menendez of New Jersey, with Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said their Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 would:

Lift the prohibition on arms sales to the Republic of Cyprus;

Authorise the establishment of a United States-Eastern Mediterranean Energy Centre to facilitate energy cooperation between the U.S., Israel, Greece, and Cyprus;

Authorise $3,000,000 in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance for Greece;

Authorise $2,000,000 for International Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance for Greece and $2,000,000 for Cyprus.

The bill also seeks to Impede the transfer of F-35 aircraft to Turkey, as long as Turkey continues with plans to purchase the S-400 air defence system from the Russian Federation, a purchase that would be sanctionable under U.S. law.

And require the US Administration to submit to Congress a strategy on enhanced security and energy cooperation with countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as reports on malign activities by Russia and other countries in the region.

The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 would allow the US to fully support the trilateral partnership of Israel, Greece, and Cyprus through energy and defence cooperation initiatives � including by lifting the embargo on arms transfers to the Republic of Cyprus, the Senators’ statement said.

The legislation, it added, also seeks to update US strategy in recognition of consequential changes in the Eastern Mediterranean, including the recent discovery of large natural gas fields, and a deterioration of Turkey’s relationship with the United States and our regional partners.

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.

Source: The Financial Mirror