A group of United States congressmen on Wednesday night tabled a bill which would extend the waiver renewal period for the country’s arms embargo on Cyprus from one year to five years.

The bill was tabled by Democrats Chris Pappas and Dina Titus of New Hampshire and Nevada respectively, and Republicans Gus Bilirakis and Nicole Malliotakis of Florida and New York respectively.

In tabling the bill, the four said such a change would “bolster the historic growth in US-Cypriot relations, enhance bilateral cooperation, and advance US security interests in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

The US placed an embargo on arms being transported to Cyprus in 1987 hoping such a move would coerce the island’s population into solving the Cyprus problem.

The embargo was then lifted with conditions in 2022 under the East Med Security and Energy Partnership Act, which hinges on the US president of the day certifying each year that Cyprus continues to meet a list of requirements outlined in the act.

Those conditions relate to whether the Cypriot government is cooperating with the US on matters such as anti-money laundering regulations and financial regulatory oversight, as well as Cyprus denying Russian military vessels access to its ports for refuelling and servicing.

The four congressmen tabling Wednesday’s bill say the annual waiver renewal “restricts Cyprus’ ability to plan and procure US defence articles effectively and compromises US-Cypriot military interoperability.”

In addition, they say, it “impedes joint research on cybersecurity and maritime security.”

Chris Pappas described Cyprus as “a steadfast, democratic ally in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

“It is time US policy better reflects Cyprus’ role as an essential partner in our collective security architecture in the region. This change will further empower US-Cyprus bilateral relations, support our mutual commitment to collaboration on security and defence, and improve their ability for long-term planning and procurement,” he added.

Gus Bilirakis said Cyprus “has proven itself to be a valued and reliable partner for the United States.

“Giving Cyprus planning certainty will allow the partnership to continue to flourish and will prove mutually beneficial for both nations and our allies.”

Nicole Malliotakis said, “for too long, the United States has maintained an outdated and counterproductive embargo on the sale of defence materials and services to Cyprus.

“Our legislation seeks to correct this by recognising Cyprus as a key strategic partner in the Eastern Mediterranean and allow for the responsible export of US defence items to support our shared security interests.”

She added, “by strengthening Cyprus’ ability to defend itself, we can promote greater stability in the region.”

The embargo waiver was most recently extended in August last year, with the Cypriot foreign ministry saying at the time that its extension “demonstrates the continued upgrading of Cyprus-US bilateral relations in the field of justice.

“Our goal remains to deepen this strategic partnership conducted on the basis of international law and the need to build conditions of security and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean region,” they added.

However, the move did anger Turkey’s foreign ministry, which said it “condemned” the move at the time.

They added, “we have repeatedly pointed out how the various destabilising steps recently taken by the US in the region at the expense of the Turkish Cypriot side undermine the neutral position on the island of Cyprus which this country has maintained for many years.”

This, they said, “constitutes an obstacle to reaching a just, lasting, and sustainable settlement” in Cyprus.

The north’s ‘foreign ministry’ was also upset by the move, saying “it is not possible to accept the US administration’s stance to support the armament of the Greek Cypriot side.”