After meeting Cyprus’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulides who was in Washington, D.C., New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez said that, “We are getting ever closer” to ending an arms embargo preventing the purchase of weapons.
In statement after a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he is a ranking member, Menendez also said that “We are really enthused about the role Cyprus is continuously taking in exercising leadership in the region,” reported Kathimerini.
“I have always had a view of lifting the arms embargo. I think we are getting ever closer and to the credit of the Cypriot government they have taken a series of actions that I think makes that move possible,” he said.
That’s been said before without result. In January, Christodoulides said the embargo was going to be lifted because the US saw the “added value” of allowing Cyprus to acquire military equipment that would help enhance its capabilities to boost regional security.
The embargo was imposed in 1987 with the aim of preventing an arms buildup that would hamper diplomatic efforts to reunify divided Cyprus. The island was split along ethnic lines in 1974 when Turkey invaded in the wake of a coup aimed at union with Greece.
Christodoulides said the process to lift the embargo has been set in motion in the U.S. Congress, reflecting a “positive shift” in that Washington no longer views Cyprus solely as an unsettled conflict of ethnic division.
“This is proof, if you like, of the recognition by the U.S. administration of the positive role that Cyprus plays as a pillar of stability and security in the broader region,” Christodoulides said then without that hope being realized.
told The Associated Press.
A State Department press release said Hale met with Christodoulides “to discuss the recent progress in the US-Republic of Cyprus security relationship.”
It added, “They reaffirmed commitment to strengthen cooperation across a range of shared interests, including in combating terrorism, countering malign influence, enhancing maritime and border security, and promoting peace, stability, security, and prosperity in the Eastern Mediterranean region.”