World, Europe

‘US decision to lift arms embargo will embolden Greek Cypriot administration, lead to escalation’

Turkish Cypriot President Tatar warns about likely regional consequences of Washington's decision

Ahmet Gencturk  | 17.09.2022 - Update : 18.09.2022
‘US decision to lift arms embargo will embolden Greek Cypriot administration, lead to escalation’


The US decision to lift the arms embargo on Greek Cypriot administration will "embolden" them and hence lead to an escalation in the region, president of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said on Saturday.

Ersin Tatar warned in a statement that the decision can also cause further intensification of tension between Ankara and Athens, both NATO members.

As the Greek Cypriot administration is expected to further accelerate its armament efforts and provocative position, we will not remain idle, he said.

Tatar added that the decision once again proved the legitimacy of their insistence on Türkiye’s role as guarantor of rights and interests of the Turkish Cypriots.

Earlier on Saturday, the TRNC's Foreign Ministry condemned the US decision, calling it "unacceptable."

The US lifted defense trade restrictions on the Greek Cypriot administration for the 2023 fiscal year, the State Department said Friday.

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken determined and certified to Congress that the Republic of Cyprus has met the necessary conditions under relevant legislation to allow the approval of exports, re-exports, and transfers of defense articles,” according to State Department spokesman Ned Price.

The US policy requires the denial of exports, re-exports or transfers of defense articles to Cyprus unless the president determines and certifies to congressional committees authorities there are cooperating with Washington to implement anti-money laundering regulations and financial regulatory oversight reforms.

The TRNC ministry drew attention to the recent arms deals of the Greek Cypriot administration, including a deal to purchase attack helicopters from France and efforts to procure missile and long-range radar systems.

“The statement of the United States of America to remove arms sales embargo is constituting a matter of concern,” it said.

The ministry also highlighted that the decision contradicts Washington’s claims of supporting the agreement between the Greek and Turkish parts of the island and preserving the stability in the region.

“Therefore, the perpetuation of the effective and actual guarantee of Türkiye, which is provided under the Treaty of Guarantees, is by no means questionable and evidently vital more than ever,” it added.

Supporting the TRNC's stance on the matter, Türkiye called on the US "to reconsider this decision and to pursue a balanced policy towards the two sides on the Island.”

"The international community, including the U.S., should reaffirm the sovereign equality and equal international status of the Turkish Cypriot people, which were also confirmed by the 1959-60 Agreements, and act accordingly," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said.

“In any case, Türkiye, as guarantor country, in line with its legal and historical responsibilities, will continue to take necessary steps for the existence, security and serenity of the Turkish Cypriots, by all means," it added.

Decades-long dispute

Cyprus has been mired in a decades-long dispute between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots, despite a series of diplomatic efforts by the UN to achieve a comprehensive settlement.

Ethnic attacks starting in the early 1960s forced Turkish Cypriots to withdraw into enclaves for their safety.

In 1974, a Greek Cypriot coup aimed at Greece’s annexation of the island led to Türkiye’s military intervention as a guarantor power to protect Turkish Cypriots from persecution and violence. As a result, the TRNC was founded in 1983.

It has seen an on-and-off peace process in recent years, including a failed 2017 initiative in Switzerland under the auspices of guarantor countries Türkiye, Greece and the UK.

The Greek Cypriot administration entered the European Union in 2004, the same year when Greek Cypriots thwarted a UN plan to end the longstanding dispute.

Türkiye, which has the longest continental coastline in the Eastern Mediterranean, has rejected maritime boundary claims by Greece and the Greek Cypriot administration, stressing that their excessive claims violate the sovereign rights of Türkiye and the Turkish Cypriots.

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