WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of State responded to American Hellenic Institute (AHI) President Nick Larigakis’ letter, dated April 22, to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the issue of removing the arms prohibition on the Republic of Cyprus. President Larigakis wrote to Secretary Pompeo requesting him to utilize the authority delegated to him by President Donald Trump under two recently enacted laws to waive the limitations placed on the transfer of arms to the Republic of Cyprus, and further, to remove the Republic of Cyprus altogether from the list of countries to which arms sales are prohibited under International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
On behalf of Secretary Pompeo, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Palmer presented the United States’ position on waiving the limitations.
While President Larigakis welcomed the letter’s reaffirmation of the United States’ view of the Republic of Cyprus as a “valued partner and friend in the Eastern Mediterranean” and its assessment that U.S. cooperation with the Republic of Cyprus is at a “historic high,” he expressed obvious disappointment that several of AHI’s points made to remove the arms prohibition were not addressed.
“The letter does not address the issue of removing the Republic of Cyprus from the ITAR list and did not acknowledge AHI’s points related to the issue of access of Russian military vessels to Cypriot ports,” Larigakis said.
The State Department letter also noted, “regarding Russian military vessels’ access, however, the United States continues to urge a halt in Russia’s regular navy port calls to the ROC. There is no doubt these vessels contribute to destabilizing actions in Syria.”
Nevertheless, as Larigakis, said that according to the letter, the State Department will review “all tools available to deepen security cooperation with the Republic of Cyprus.”
Regarding Cyprus’ anti-money laundering efforts, the letter to AHI noted that “the United States government welcomed the February MONEYVAL Mutual Evaluation Report on ROC’s [Republic of Cyprus’] anti-money laundering measures, which showed ROC’s important progress in strengthening AML [anti-money laundering] efforts and combatting illicit financial flows.
On a positive note, Larigakis said that, “as the State Department continues with its review of ways to deepen security cooperation with the Republic of Cyprus, AHI will continue to work with the State Department to reach an understanding that it is in U.S. interests to remove the Republic of Cyprus from the ITAR list altogether, especially if the United States values Cyprus as a partner and cooperation is at a historic high.”
He added that, “on behalf of AHI, I thank Mr. Palmer for expressing his appreciation in the letter for the ‘important role’ AHI plays in contributing to efforts to deepen bilateral relations between the United States and Republic of Cyprus.”
The American Hellenic Institute is a non-profit Greek American public policy center and think tank that works to strengthen relations between the United States and Greece and Cyprus, and within the Greek American community.
More information is available online: ahiworld.org.