Ending a long-standing ban on selling arms to Cyprus – the legitimate government – would threaten what he called “the peace and stability” on the divided island where there isn’t any, the self-declared Deputy Prime Minister of the occupied territory there said.
Writing in The Hill, a US political website specializing in affairs around the White House and Congress, Prof. Kudret Özersay said the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Partnership Act authored by US Senators. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.),which would end the arms embargo, should be rejected.
The Turkish side is allowed to get arms but not the Cypriot government, a member of the European Union that Turkey wants to join while refusing to recognize the island and barring Cypriot ships and planes and keeping a 35,000-strong army there.
Ozersay said allowing Cyprus to have arms during a time when Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said Turkey incursions into the island’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to look for oil and gas constitutes a “second invasion” would be perilous.
While Anastasiades was referring to the unlawful 1974 invasion that saw Turkey occupy the northern third, Ozersay wrote that lifting the embargo “is simply the worst move for the region,” with Turkey wanting to keep a monopoly on arms.
The Turkish-Cypriot official said what he called South Cyprus “is already known to be acquiring heavy weapons and all sorts of defense articles. Lifting the U.S. arms embargo won’t necessarily stop these purchases, but would give the impression that the U.S. is backing an arms-race on the island.”
He said arming the Cypriot side would remove any incentive for more negotiations to unify the island after the July, 2017 collapse of talks at the Swiss resort of Crans-Montana when “A decision by the U.S. government to lift the arms ban on the Greek Cypriot side would contradict its stated policy of supporting a just and lasting settlement and make it significantly harder for both sides, who have discussed the future of the island for more than 50 years, to achieve a compromise,” he wrote.
He blamed decades of troubles on the Greek-Cypriot side that he said was solely responsible for violence and subjecting Turkish-Cypriots “to brutal treatment” before the invasion 45 years ago.
“Despite good-faith efforts by Turkish Cypriot leaders, many rounds of negotiations have ended without a conclusion. Many in the international community share the view that the Greek Cypriot leaders appear unwilling to agree to any settlement that would include even the slightest hint of power-sharing. The status quo serves them well,” he said.
He didn’t mention Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said they won’t remove their army and wanted the right to militarily intervene when they wanted.
With the US energy giant ExxonMobil reporting the discovery of a large field of gas in an area of the EEZ where it’s licensed to drill, Erdogan sent two energy research vessels and a Navy frigate to the area.
“Rather than advancing provocative legislation, the U.S. should be taking clear and unambiguous steps aimed to alleviate tensions,” he said, including barring Cyprus, but not the Turkish-Cypriot side, from being able to buy arms.