Nicosia.- (GreekNewsOnline, CNA)
Amendments to the text of the EastMed Act bill that was approved on Tuesday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and tie the lifting of the US arms embargo to Cyprus to the cutting of the docking of Russian military vessels to Cypriot ports, has creating displeasure in Nicosia.
President of the Republic Nicos Anastasiades described on Wednesday the amendments made to the bipartisan legislation authored by Robert Menendez and Senator Rubio on an updated United States’ strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean as “unfortunate.”
Invited to comment on the amendment, Anastasiades praised Menendez and Rubio for authoring the bill, as submitted to the Committee, expressing however regret over the amendments made to the bill “which to a great extent affect the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Cyprus.”
The President explained that the so far the provision of services to any country were made on humanitarian grounds, noting “and I do not believe that conditions can be set especially with a country, and I am referring to the United States, with which we seek to further enhance our relations.”
Nicosia considers the fact that the US recognizes the role of the Republic of Cyprus in the Southeastern Mediterranean, a region of geostrategic significance, as particularly important, Government Spokesman Prodromos Prodromou has said.
“We welcome the importance attributed to our country, which reflects the upgrading of the relations between Cyprus and the US,” Prodromou noted in a written statement.
With regard to the facilities which the Republic of Cyprus provides in the region, Prodromou said that they have to do with humanitarian issues as in the case of Lebanon in 2006 and the implementation of the decision taken by the international community to remove chemical weapons from Syria in 2013-2014.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved on Tuesday afternoon bipartisan legislation authored by Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-N.J) and Republican Senator Marco Rubio (Fl.), which would update the United States’ strategy in the Eastern Mediterranean to meet new challenges and opportunities in that region.
The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 would allow the U.S. to fully support the trilateral partnership of Israel, Greece, and Cyprus through energy and defense cooperation initiatives—including by lifting the prohibition on arms transfers to the Republic of Cyprus. Now the discussion of the bill is moved the full Senate.
The bill, which would allow the U.S. to fully support the trilateral partnership of Israel, Greece, and Cyprus through energy and defense cooperation initiatives—including by lifting the prohibition on arms transfers to the Republic of Cyprus, received the green light by the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee and will be forwarded to the Full Senate.
However, the approved version contained three amendments of which the first asks the President of the United States to certify to the appropriate congressional committees not less than annually that “(A) the Government of the Republic of Cyprus is continuing to cooperate with the United States Government in efforts to implement reforms on anti-money laundering regulations and financial regulatory oversight; and (B) the Government of the Republic of Cyprus has made and is continuing to take the steps necessary to deny Russian military vessels access to ports for refueling and servicing.”
Akel issued an announcement Wednesday saying the amendment “unfortunately justify our beliefs that this makes our country an area of international confrontation and jeopardises the relations with other countries that Cyprus needs at least equally with the US,” party spokesman Stefanos Stefanou said in a written statement.
“There is no need for a profound analysis to figure out that Cyprus has indeed hitched itself to the US wagon,” Stefanou added. “The relations of the Republic of Cyprus with a very important country, such as Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council are very seriously threatened.”
“The US is clearly angling for Nicosia to take a position one way or another,” political analyst James Ker-Lindsay is quoted by “Cyprus Mail”.
He said it would be interesting to see how Nicosia plays it as it wants to get closer to the US, especially as part of its strategy of courting ties with Israel. He said Cyprus would also not want to alienate Russia too much as it would not want to lose the Russian veto, especially given US noises over Unficyp.
“But Cyprus is nothing if not adept at playing both sides. Fifty years of non-alignment taught it well. Perhaps it finally will have to make a choice. Or maybe Nicosia will find a way of balancing, as it always has,” Ker-Lindsay added.