President Nicos Anastasiades thanked US Senate foreign relations committee chairman, Robert Menendez on Tuesday, after he said Turkish President Erdogan should stop all overflights of Greece and withdraw every Turkish soldier from Cyprus.

Menendez has always carried a principled stance where human rights are concerned and has never been afraid of being outspoken about Turkey’s violations against Cyprus and Greece, the president added.

Anastasiades’ reaction came a day after Menendez told Senate that after Turkey’s recent behaviour, the US should not put F-16 fighter jets in the hands of President Erdogan. He also said the US needs to hold Erdogan accountable for his behaviour when he violates international laws.

Heralding Menendez, Anastasiades noted the developments were part of Cyprus’ policy to have US officials expressing such views.

“Do not forget my special relationship with (US President Joe) Biden. His arrival in Cyprus, his interest in the Cyprus problem and the significant improvement of our interstate relations, which reach that of strategic cooperation.”

Speaking about Cyprus, the senator said that “five decades after Turkey’s illegal occupation of Cyprus, Erdogan is still stoking divisions on the island. Last year, he proposed reopening the Cypriot town of Varosha in an attempt to spread Turkish influence. That is a violation of UN Security Council resolutions that was condemned by the European Union.”

“Personally, as chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, I will not approve any F-16s for Turkey until Erdogan halts his campaign of aggression across the entire region,” he added.

“I’m sure I won’t make many friends in Ankara, and President Erdogan has criticised me personally, calling me an enemy of the state. But if standing up to human rights abuses makes me an enemy of Erdogan – if calling out Turkey for arming Azerbaijan and enabling the massacre of innocent Armenian civilians makes me an enemy of Erdogan – if demanding Turkey recognize Greek and Cypriot sovereignty makes me an enemy of Erdogan – then it is a badge I will wear with honour,” Menendez said.

The senator also referred to last summer when the Turkish President sent fighter jets over the Greek islands, challenging Greek sovereignty repeatedly.

“He has said Turkish forces may land in Greece ‘suddenly one night.’ As violent as Erdogan’s tenure has been at home, his foreign policy has been absolutely awful. But one thing is clear—the United States must take the Turkish president’s actions seriously. We need to hold Erdogan accountable for his behavior when he violates international laws, or challenges democratic norms, or allows his forces to commit human rights abuses,” he concluded.

The Turkish Cypriot leadership announced in July 2021 a partial lifting of the military status in Varosha. A few months earlier, on October 8, 2020, the Turkish side opened part of the fenced area of Varosha, following an announcement made in Ankara on October 6.