President Obama signed the bill. Congressmen Cicilline & Bilirakis and Senator Menendez played crucial role. HALC’s Zemenides applauds the measure.
Washington, By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
US President Barack Obama signed on Wednesday the US National Defense Authorization Act, which includes an amendment allowing under certain conditions the sale of US defensive weapons to the Republic of Cyprus.
The new defense bill also includes language co-sponsored by Congressmen David Cicilline and Gus Bilirakis that requires the Secretaries of Defense and State to submit a report to Congress assessing the impact of the embargo on Cyprus’ national security and counterterrorism efforts.
The embargo, which dates back to 1992, bans the export of defensive weapons to the Republic of Cyprus. It fails to reflect the relationship Cyprus and the United States have today as allies and strategic partners in the Global War on Terror.
Bilirakis, Cicilline and Senator Robert Menendez tabled amendments in the House of Representatives and the Senate pointing out that the embargo is an anachronism which does not reflect the current upgraded relationships between Cyprus and the US, which are allies and strategic partners.
Reliable sources have told CNA that following the joint maritime search and rescue exercises between the USA and Cyprus, the US offered to strengthen Cyprus` port police with open sea vessels.
The Hellenic American Leadership Council’s (HALC) Executive Director Endy Zemenides applauded the inclusion of the Cyprus amendment, noting that “this is an important step in the growing strategic partnership between Cyprus and the United States. The reevaluation of the arms embargo required by this act will hopefully rectify the absurd status quo in which Turkey is allowed to occupy Cyprus with American arms but Cyprus has to look elsewhere to buy defensive weapons. Resolving this will allow Cyprus to step up even further as a front line state in the Western security infrastructure.”
Nicosia has welcomed Washington`s decision to allow the sale of US defensive weapons to the Republic of Cyprus.
“This is a particularly important decision by the US Congress,” Government Spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said in statements to the press, on the sidelines of the Commonwealth summit in Malta, pointing out that it proves in deeds the importance the US attach to Cyprus` geostrategic role, especially in such a volatile region as the Eastern Mediterranean.
Invited to comment on the decision, he said “the government will handle this issue carefully and it is expected to be discussed at a meeting in Nicosia between the Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides and his American counterpart, during his forthcoming visit this coming week.”