US Senator Robert Menendez has introduced an amendment to the US National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) that seeks to extend the present one-year renewal period on arms sales to the Republic of Cyprus.

A US arms embargo, in force since 1987, was lifted in September 2022, but under the East Med Security and Energy Partnership Act arms sales are contingent on the US president certifying each year that Cyprus continues to meet all the conditions outlined in the act to warrant the renewal of the annual waiver.

If Menendez’s amendment is adopted in the final version of the budget, this certification will be extended to every three years.

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations explained that this is a logical step towards enabling a more long-term plan for enhancing cooperation between Washington and Nicosia in the realm of security, CNA reported.

“I was proud to witness the bipartisan passage of my bill on Security and Energy Cooperation in the Eastern Mediterranean a few years ago, paving the way for the provision of crucial defence systems to bolster Cyprus’ defence,” said Menendez.

“As Cyprus has fulfilled the prerequisites to receive such defence systems, this amendment will allow for long-term planning that ultimately improves security coordination between the United States and the Republic of Cyprus and, hopefully, with other regional allies and partners in the future,” he added.

Another significant step towards enhancing bilateral ties and security cooperation between Cyprus and the US was the signing of a declaration to include the Cyprus National Guard in the State Partnership Programme (SPP) of the US Department of Defence, partnering with the National Guard of New Jersey.

Defence Minister Michalis Georgallas signed the declaration during his official visit to the US which began on July 15 and was completed on Friday. The minister was accompanied by the National Guard chief, Lieutenant General Demokritos Zervakis.

After the signing, Zervakis welcomed the declaration saying “today is a particularly important day for the national guard”.

“The signing of our declaration of affiliation to the SPP with the National Guard of the State of New Jersey opens new horizons in Cyprus’ cooperation with the US,” he tweeted.

As part of the delegation’s visit to New Jersey, a group of National Guard officers participated in a conference and working groups held to present the modules of the cooperation, mutual information, exchange of views and next steps.

The minister also participated in the 30th anniversary celebration of the State Partnership Programme held in Washington, DC, with the participation of all US states participating in the programme as well as the 100 partner countries around the world.

During his visit, Georgallas had separate meetings with New Jersey Secretary of State Tahesha Way, the chief of the United States National Guard, General Daniel R. Hokanson and the commander of the New Jersey State National Guard, Brigadier General Lisa Hou.