CHICAGO, IL — The Hellenic American Leadership Council heralded Section 1277 of the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 (NDAA) which requires the Secretaries of Defense and State to submit a report on the United States’ security relationship with the Republic of Cyprus to Congress.
The 2019 NDAA, signed into law by President Donald Trump on August 13th, seeks an explicit assessment of “the ongoing military and security cooperation between the United States and the Republic of Cyprus” and “a discussion of potential steps for enhancing the bilateral security relationship between the United States and the Republic of Cyprus, including steps to enhance the military and security capabilities of the Republic of Cyprus.” Against this background, Section 1277 further requires an analysis of the effectiveness of the arms embargo and Cyprus, specifically as to how it affects “the bilateral security relationship between the United States and the Republic of Cyprus; and [t]he ability of the United States and partners of the United States to achieve shared security objectives in the Eastern Mediterranean region.”
The passage of Section 1277 in the NDAA is a key milestone for one of HALC’s top legislative priorities: the lifting of the Cyprus Arms Embargo. This policy change has been a part of year-long joint advocacy activity between HALC and the American Jewish Committee (AJC), and it was one of the requests made of members of Congress during the annual Congressional Hellenic-Israel Alliance advocacy conference.
“This provision in the NDAA brings us one step closer to lifting the counterproductive arms embargo on the Republic of Cyprus and achieving the strategic upgrade of Cyprus that has been declared as a goal of the Trump Administration by Assistant Secretary of State Wes Mitchell,” said HALC Executive Director Endy Zemenides. “Cyprus has established itself as a frontline state for Western security interests and a critical partner in a turbulent Eastern Mediterranean. For far too long, the United States has granted Turkey a de facto veto over a closer strategic relationship with the Republic of Cyprus. The NDAA brings us one step closer to a better policy. We would like to thank our allies at the AJC for advocating for this, and want to commend Senator Bob Menendez and Congressman David Cicilline for their initiative on this language and for their respective End the Cyprus Arms Embargo legislation pending in the Senate and the House.”