Senate decides on the lifting of the arms embargo in Cyprus
The non-facilitation of Russian ships is a “thorn”
By Michalis Michael
With identical verbal confirmation of the draft law for the Eastern Mediterranean that was voted on Tuesday by the Committee of Foreign Relations, as the Cyprus news agency reports, the Senate plenary included an amendment in order to lift the arms embargo, on law S 1790 for the National Defence budget, which was passed on Thursday afternoon.
The same law stresses that Turkey’s supply of Russian missiles will bring about the ban of sale of American F-35s and Turkey’s exit from the aircraft production process, while simultaneously it is requested from the President of USA to fully implement the sanctions provided by the CAATSA law of 2017.
A similar amendment to remove the arms embargo on Cyprus was tabled by MP David Cicilline, in the corresponding budget text forwarded to the House of Representatives, and is expected to be approved within the next few days. It is noted that the withdrawal of the embargo applies only to the equipment of the Republic of Cyprus and does not include the transfer of US-made weapons systems on Cypriot territory by the Turkish occupation army, the so-called Turkish Cypriot forces and ELDYK.
The text of the bill approved by the Senate includes the conditions regarding the reforms that Cyprus must do in the sectors of the fight against money laundering and the non-facilitation of Russian naval vessels in its ports. Something that had annoyed Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who had described the amendment as unfortunate. However, informations says that there is general satisfaction regarding the bill in the Cypriot government, and it remains to be seen what the practical implementation of this amendment will be in the future.
Democratic senator Robert Menendez, following the vote of the bill, made the following statement:
“Today, the Senate has shown our partners in Cyprus and around the world that the United States is committed to meeting the challenges and opportunities of the Eastern Mediterranean. With Cyprus seeking to deepen its strategic partnership with the United States, it is in our national security and economic interest to lift this outdated decade-long weapons restrictions, which no longer help US security goals. I look forward to continuing working with my colleagues in order to ensure that we begin a new era for an Eastern Mediterranean architecture, rooted in shared security and prosperity.”
The relevant amendment approved by the plenary indicates that it is the Senate’s feeling that:
“Firstly, by allowing the Republic of Cyprus to export, re-export or transfer weapons included in the United States ammunition list (Part 121 of Title 22, Code of Federal Regulations), will promote the United States’ security interests in Europe, contributing to the reduction of dependence of the government of the Republic of Cyprus on other countries, including countries that are challenging the interests of the United States all over the world, for things related to defence.
Secondly, it is in the interest of the United States to continue to support efforts under the facilitation of the United Nations for a comprehensive solution to the division of Cyprus and also to accede the Republic of Cyprus into the NATO ‘Partnership for Peace’ program.”
The implementation of the embargo lifting provision will apply as soon as the law enters into force and the US Secretary of State will not apply the policy of export, re-export or transfer of arms and defence services to the Republic of Cyprus, if the request is submitted by the government of the Republic of Cyprus and the final recipient is the Republic of Cyprus.
It is noted in the law that the policy of denying exports, re-exports or transfers of defence items from the United States Ammunition List to the Republic of Cyprus will be preserved “unless the President identifies and certifies to the relevant Congressional Committees (Foreign and Military committees and the Senate) no less than once a year, that (A) The Government of the Republic of Cyprus continues to cooperate with the United States Government in its efforts to implement reforms regarding the regulations for the fight against money laundering and the supervision of financial institutions, and (B) the Government of the Republic of Cyprus has taken and continues to take the necessary measures to prevent access to the Russians military ships to ports for refuelling and services.”
However, the law allows the US President to lift these restrictions for a financial year if he considers it to be decisive for the United States’ national security interests./ibna