“Poisons Regional Peace”: Turkey Enraged After US Lifts Decades-Old Arms Embargo On Cyprus
Thu, 09/03/2020 – 02:45
The timing significantly comes amid Turkey’s Mediterranean gas exploration standoff with Greece and Cyprus, which this past weekend very nearly resulted in shots fired, as the conflict gets increasingly militarized: the US has announced it will lift a decades-old arms embargo on Cyprus.
For now, the US move will only allow “non-lethal” military items to be exported to EU member Cyprus. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo relayed the change to Republic of Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades in a Tuesday phone call.
Pompeo further “reaffirmed US support for a comprehensive settlement to reunify the island” – given the arms embargo was imposed in the first place in 1987 in the hope it would encourage reunification, following Turkey’s military invasion and occupation of the northern half of the island since 1974.
President Anastasiades welcomed the temporary sanctions lifting, while predictably Turkey sees it as a direct threat, immediately urging Washington to reverse course:
“It poisons the peace and stability environment in the region,” the Turkish foreign ministry said, adding it does “not comply with the spirit of alliance” between the US and Turkey.
If Washington did not reverse course, the ministry said, “Turkey, as a guarantor country, will take the necessary decisive counter steps to guarantee the security of the Turkish Cypriot people, in line with its legal and historical responsibilities.
But Pompeo reaffirmed on Twitter that “Cyprus is a key partner in the Eastern Mediterranean,” and added, “We will waive restrictions on the sale of non-lethal defense articles and services to the Republic of Cyprus for the coming fiscal year.”
The Republic of Cyprus is a key partner in the Eastern Mediterranean. I am pleased to announce that we are deepening our security cooperation. We will waive restrictions on the sale of non-lethal defense articles and services to the Republic of Cyprus for the coming fiscal year.
— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 1, 2020
Currently the eastern Mediterranean region is witnessing rival naval drills among Turkey, and Greece and Cyprus and European allies France and Italy.
France is an EU leader which has been most vocal in its condemnation of Turkey’s alleged violation of Greek and Cypriot waters and economic zones.
Despite Turkey being pretty much completely isolated in its actions and expansive interpretation of maritime boundaries (with the exception of the Tripoli government in Libya), it’s remained unmoved.
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