US lifts restrictions on arms imports to Cyprus

The United States has lifted restrictions on arms imports to Cyprus for another year, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Saturday, a move that will likely provoke an angry reaction from Turkey (Turkiye) and will further inflame an already tense situation in the region.

“Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has determined and certified to Congress that the Republic of Cyprus has met the conditions necessary under the relevant legislation to permit the approval of exports, re-exports and transfers of defense articles to the Republic of Cyprus for fiscal year 2023,” the statement read.

Compliance with the conditions is assessed annually.

The International Traffic in Arms Regulations will be amended to reflect the new policy, effective October 1, 2022.

Cyprus was divided in 1974 and Turkey recognizes the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

The United States introduced arms transfer restrictions to Cyprus in 1987 to encourage reunification efforts and avoid an arms race on the island.

Turkey and Greece, both members of NATO, have been at odds for decades over territorial and airspace claims in and over the Aegean Sea.

Deep-rooted friction has brought Turkey and Greece almost to the brink of war three times in the past 50 years.

Turkey and Greece will both head to the polls for crucial elections next year and some observers believe statements likely to target domestic audiences are to blame for the tension.

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