Turkiye has condemned the United States' decision to fully lift its embargo on Cyprus from next year, saying that the move could result in an arms race on the island.
In a statement by the Turkish Foreign Ministry today, it warned that the US' decision will "further strengthen the Greek Cypriot side's intransigence and negatively affect efforts to resettle the Cyprus issue."
It added that it "will lead to an arms race on the island, harming peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean." The ministry called on Washington to reconsider its move and to pursue a balanced policy regarding the ongoing dispute on the island and its division.
The US imposed the arms embargo on the entirety of Cyprus in 1987, apparently aiming to encourage its reunification following the island's split between the north and south in 1974, which was caused by the Turkish military's intervention in response to a coup sponsored by Greece at the time.
The US Congress voted to lift the arms embargo in December 2019, however, reportedly due to fears that maintaining the ban would push southern Cyprus closer to Russia after Nicosia signed an agreement.
deal with Moscow for access to Cypriot ports four years prior. That vote by Congress attempted to allow southern Cyprus to import "non-lethal" military hardware.
In the announcement of the lift yesterday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price stated that "Cyprus has met the necessary conditions under relevant legislation to allow the approval of exports, re-exports, and transfers of defence articles." Defence trade restrictions are now set to end in 2023.
The move is conditional, however, on Nicosia continuing to block Russian warships from its ports.
The president of southern Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades, expressed "great satisfaction" over the US move, calling it "a landmark decision reflecting the burgeoning strategic relationship between the two countries, including in the area of security."