With Turkish warships off the coast trying to block foreign energy ships from reaching waters where they are licensed to drill for oil and gas, Cyprus still isn’t interested in joining NATO – where Turkey is a member.
Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides said Cyprus is not seeking membership into NATO or Partnership for Peace because feels comfortable with the security and defense provided by being a member of the European Union that Turkey wants to join.
While offering words of encouragement, however, the EU – unlike NATO – has no joint military force and can only issue press releases against Turkey, which it has done over the warships issue at the same praising President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for signing a refugee and migrant swap deal although he continues let human traffickers send them to Greece.
He said there had been talk of NATO with Greek-American groups pushing Congress to lift a 26-year-old arms embargo on Cyprus imposed by the United States, said Kathimerini.
Turkey has essentially ignored it and keeps an army on the occupied northern third it seized in an unlawful 1974 invasion – with the implicit support of the US, critics said.
US Sen. Bob Menendez, (D-N.J.) who has strong ties to Greek-American groups, introduced a bill last month that would end the arms embargo, citing small impact on US national security but potentially pushing Cyprus closer to Russia.
A month earlier, Cypriot Defense Minister Savvas Angelides spoke to US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European and NATO Policy Thomas Goffus on the possibility of lifting the US embargo on the sale of military weapons.
Christodoulides though said NATO is not on the table for Cyprus. “This conversation has to do with bilateral relations between our country and the USA and it is in no way linked to NATO or the Partnership,” the foreign minister said, the paper reported.