According to the Eastern Mediterranean Energy and Security Partnership Act of 2019 and the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020, the restriction of the export of US defense products to Greek Cyprus has two conditions. If Greek Cyprus reports to the US Congress on the implementation of anti-money laundering regulations and takes necessary measures to prevent Russian warships from entering its ports for refueling and servicing, the relevant sanctions will be lifted and it will be able to purchase US military equipment in 2023. The US annually examines the compliance of the Greek Cypriot situation with the above laws and reports to the US Congress. With this decision, the US government will continue to normalize its military relations with Cyprus and there will be no restrictions on arms sales. This American action was supported by Senator Bob Menendez, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. According to him, the United States should strengthen the ability of Cyprus to defend itself against the continuous and illegal occupations carried out by Turkey in the northern part of the island. A significant number of US senators have repeatedly emphasized that Turkey is not a reliable partner for the US and should be put under pressure.
The US decision to lift defense sanctions on Cyprus and directly pointing to the need to strengthen this country against Turkey is a direct message about the level of relations between Washington and Ankara. America’s new action on South Cyprus means that Washington considers Turkey’s defensive approach as a threat and considers it necessary to restrain this country and support Cyprus against the totalitarianism and threats of Turkey and Turkish Cypriots.
Nicos Anastasiades, the President of Cyprus, considers this action of America as a “turning point” and considers it as a reflection of the growing strategic relations between the two countries. According to Nicosia, the complete lifting of the arms embargo on Cyprus is an important decision that reflects the growing strategic relations between the two countries, including in the field of security. America’s agreement to remove the arms embargo on Cyprus comes at a time when news has been published about the purchase of the Zionist regime’s “Iron Dome” system by Cyprus with the aim of protecting against the threat of Turkey, and Cyprus has “started implementing the government’s decision to purchase the “Iron Dome” and has signed contracts related to this agreement with Israel.
Greek Foreign Minister Dendias, in a meeting with his Cypriot counterpart in New York, considered Athens’ “strong satisfaction” with the US decision to lift the arms embargo on Cyprus as a reward for the constant approach of the Republic of Cyprus in all these past years. According to him, Greece and Cyprus always walk together in the path of “adherence to international law, independence and territorial integrity of all countries and international law of the seas”.
As expected, this US action was met with Turkey’s reaction. According to Turkey, the American decision “will further strengthen the incompatibility of the Greek Cypriot side and will have a negative impact on the efforts to re-settle the Cyprus issue.” This decision will lead to an arms race in this island and will harm peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean. This American decision is against the principle of equality between the two sides on the island and makes Greek Cyprus more incompatible. This action will have a negative impact on efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue.
Turkey considers the American decision to remove the arms embargo of the Greek Cypriot government as weakening the peace and stability of the Eastern Mediterranean and condemns it. From Ankara’s point of view, this action violates the principle of equality between the two parts of the island of Cyprus and will have destructive effects on the efforts to resolve the Cyprus issue and cause an arms race in this island. Turkey asked the US to reconsider its decision and adopt a more balanced approach. According to Turkey, the international community, including the United States, should emphasize the equality of sovereignty and international equal status of Turkish Cypriots and act accordingly, a situation confirmed in the agreements of 1959 and 1960.
Ersin Tatar, who is known by Turkey as the “President of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus”, said about the American action: “This decision leads to the further arming of the Greek Cypriot side. That is, the same side that committed all kinds of crimes with armed actions against the Turkish Cypriots between 1963-74. Unfortunately, this US action will hinder efforts to reach a solution and lead to an arms race. Such a decision has a negative impact on the peace and stability of the region.
What made the differences in Cyprus tense was the Greek nationalist coup in 1974 against the central government of this country. Their goal was the annexation of Cyprus to Greece. After that, the Turkish army quickly entered Cyprus and took 38% of the island under its control. Although this military operation was limited due to its dimensions, it led to Turkey’s control over more than a third of Cyprus. The use of military power by Turkey, which has NATO’s second-largest army in terms of military strength, has fueled fears of Ankara’s militarism. In 1983, the Turkish descendants present in this area declared independence from the Cyprus government under the name “North Cyprus” which, of course, was not recognized at the international level. The main supporter of the autonomous government of Northern Cyprus is Turkey, which is trying to protect it against the Greek Cypriots and the Greek government by providing the basic needs of this government.
Turkey has repeatedly criticized Greece and accuses this country of being inflexible on the Cyprus issue. Turkey claims that this country will continue to fulfill its duty as a guarantor state on the island of Cyprus. The Greek side has not provided any answer to Turkey’s efforts of the last 30, 40 and 50 years regarding Cyprus and insists on maintaining the status quo with inflexibility.
Turkey claims that the Cypriot Eoka terrorist organization has been systematically attacking Turkish Cypriots since 1958 and has committed genocide, sometimes with brutal murders and torture. For this reason, the Turkish armed forces intervened to stop this situation in July 1974. As a result, 48 years ago, the security of both the Turkish Cypriot and Greek Cypriot sides was ensured by the peacekeeping operation in Cyprus, within the framework of guaranteed rights. Those who call the peace operation in Cyprus an occupation ignore the historical facts and try to hide from the world the massacres that took place between 1958 and 1974.
But in response to Turkey’s positions, Cyprus believes that Turkey, with its combined tactics and illegal actions, is still trying to Islamize the occupied areas, weaken the secular identity of the Turkish Cypriot community, and strengthen the dependence of the Turkish Cypriots on Turkey. The international community knows that the only thing that Turkey did was to create destruction, make refugees of one third of the population of Cyprus, implement double projects and consolidate new achievements. The height of Turkey’s provocations is the sensitivity it shows to impose the solution of creating two states.