US Democratic Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who along with Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, has introduced a bipartisan bill seeking to lift the arms embargo on Cyprus, will be visiting the island next week.
CNA has learned that Menendez will arrive to Cyprus on April 15 in the afternoon. Despite the fact that his visit will be private, he is expected to hold meetings on April 16 with the President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades and with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulides.
He will surely discuss with the President about the lifting of the US arms embargo on Cyprus, the Cyprus problem and issues regarding the Cyprus-US relations, a source has told CNA, stressing the importance of Menendez`s stance towards Cyprus.
Senators Menendez and Rubio have said in a press release about the “The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019”, that they introduced, that it would:
Lift the prohibition on arms sales to the Republic of Cyprus;
Authorize the establishment of a United States-Eastern Mediterranean Energy Center to facilitate energy cooperation between the U.S., Israel, Greece, and Cyprus;
Authorize $3,000,000 in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance for Greece;
Authorize $2,000,000 for International Military Education and Training (IMET) assistance for Greece and $2,000,000 for Cyprus.
Impede the transfer of F-35 aircraft to Turkey, as long as Turkey continues with plans to purchase the S-400 air defense system from the Russian Federation, a purchase that would be sanctionable under U.S. law.
Require the Administration to submit to Congress a strategy on enhanced security and energy cooperation with countries in the Eastern Mediterranean, as well as reports on malign activities by Russia and other countries in the region.
“The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 would allow the US to fully support the trilateral partnership of Israel, Greece, and Cyprus through energy and defense cooperation initiatives – including by lifting the embargo on arms transfers to the Republic of Cyprus,” the press release read.
The legislation, it added, “also seeks to update US strategy in recognition of consequential changes in the Eastern Mediterranean, including the recent discovery of large natural gas fields, and a deterioration of Turkey’s relationship with the United States and our regional partners.”
Cyprus has been divided since 1974, when Turkey invaded and occupied its northern third. In 1987, the US placed restrictions on the transfer of arms and defensive material to Cyprus. Turkey has found a way to circumvent the arms embargo by placing tens of thousands of Turkish troops armed with American weapons in the northern part of Cyprus. The arms embargo has forced the Republic of Cyprus to purchase weapons from other nations.
(Cyprus News Agency)