Photo: Pixabay/Pierre Blache
WASHINGTON/NICOSIA: For the first time since 1987, the Republic of Cyprus can again obtain unlimited weapons from the USA. The US State Department announced the lifting of the embargo on Friday evening (local time). While the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nikos Anastasiades, welcomed the decision on Twitter as a “milestone”, sharp criticism came from the Turkish-occupied north of the island. The step could lead to an escalation in the region, according to the local government of the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”, which is only recognized by Turkey worldwide.
The US embargo was introduced in 1987 to persuade the parties to the dispute on the divided island and the guarantor powers Greece and Turkey involved to find a diplomatic solution. Cyprus is divided into a larger Greek Cypriot part in the south and a Turkish Cypriot part in the north after a Greek coup and Turkish military invasion in 1974. Due to the partition, the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, which has also been a member of the EU since 2004, only controls the southern part of the island.
In Washington, it was said that Secretary of State Antony Blinken had informed Congress that Cyprus had met the conditions for lifting the embargo. The situation should be reviewed annually in the future.
The Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias also wrote on Twitter about a “political milestone”. However, the Turkish Foreign Ministry reacted with indignation. The move is strongly condemned. The decision could lead to an arms race on the island, which would damage peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean, it said.
The negotiation situation to solve the division of Cyprus is muddled; Most recently, Northern Cyprus and Ankara insisted on a two-state solution, which Nicosia and the United Nations rejected. Instead, the United Nations continues to call for a federal solution with two states.