Cyprus Mail

Defence minister welcomes ‘historic’ decision to lift US arms embargo (updated)

Υπουργός Άμυνας Εθνικό μνημόσυνο Στέλιου Μαυρομάτη και άλλων ηρώων
Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides

Defence Minister Charalambos Petrides on Sunday said the total lifting of the US arms embargo against Cyprus was a “historic” development.

This decision, he said, reflects excellent Cyprus-USA relations.

He said the ministry of defence will examine further ways of co-operation between the two countries.

Petrides was speaking after addressing a memorial service in Nicosia.

Late on Friday night the State Department announced the US would completely lift the arms embargo on Cyprus, imposed in 1987.

“We need to strengthen Cyprus’ ability to defend itself amid Turkey’s continued and illegal occupation of the north,” US Senator and President of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Robert Menendez, one of the backers of the original bill, said on Saturday.

In a post on Twitter, he expressed satisfaction that the US administration has certified the eligibility of Cyprus for the export of defence equipment.

Already, on Saturday President Nicos Anastaiades welcomed the move. “This is a landmark decision, reflecting the burgeoning strategic relationship between the two countries, including in the area of security,” he said in a Twitter post.

The foreign ministry said the decision was the, “result of the fulfilment of all the conditions set by the legislation ‘Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act established by the American Congress in 2019” .

It called the development a “political milestone”.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias also welcomed the development. “Together with Cyprus and the US, Greece will continue to work to promote security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean, always based on international law and especially the Law of the Sea,” he said.

However, the Turkish foreign ministry swiftly condemned the US decision and called on Washington to review its decision, saying the development would negatively affect efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue.

“This decision, which contradicts the principle of equality between the two sides on the island will make the Greek side more intransigent and this will negatively affect efforts to resolve the Cyprus problem,” it said.

In 2020 it was announced that the US would partially lift the embargo, on conditions, with the decision being reviewed annually.

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