the United States lifts the arms embargo, a “historic” decision

The Cypriot president on Saturday welcomed the decision “historicalof the United States to completely lift a decades-long arms embargo on the divided Mediterranean island, provided that Nicosia continues to block Russian warships from accessing its ports. Washington had imposed an arms embargo on the whole of Cyprus in 1987, hoping to encourage the reunification of the island divided since the invasion of the north by the Turkish army in 1974, in reaction to a coup of state of Cypriot-Greek nationalists who wanted to attach the island to Greece. The United States thus hoped to prevent an arms race and to encourage a peaceful settlement between the Greek majority and the Turkish minority.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday lifted defense trade restrictions on European Union member Cyprus, State Department spokesman Ned Price said. “This is a historic decision, which reflects the growing strategic relationship between the two countries, including in the field of security.“Reacted on Saturday the Cypriot President, Nicos Anastasiades, on his Twitter account.

A counter-productive embargo?

Some critics say the US embargo has been counterproductive as it has forced Cyprus to seek other partners, while NATO member Turkey maintains troops in the island’s controlled north by the self-proclaimed Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC, recognized only by Ankara). US officials had worried that the embargo would bring Cyprus closer to Russia, as Nicosia signed an agreement with Moscow in 2015 allowing the Russian navy to access its ports.

In December 2019, the US Congress voted to lift the arms embargo to allow the export of military equipment.non lethal“. With the complete lifting of this embargo, Cyprus must “continue cooperation” with Washington, in particular in “continuing to take the necessary measures to deny Russian military vessels access to ports for refueling and maintenanceadded Ned Price. The EU has closed European ports to Russian ships as part of sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.

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