New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
The US Senate has approved a bill which paves the way for the export to Cyprus of defense articles and defense services to the armed forces of the country. Bill HR 1735, which was voted with 71 votes for and 25 against focuses on the US National Defense and was adopted by the House of Representatives in May.
The bill includes an amendment on Cyprus which asks the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State within 90 days to jointly submit “to the appropriate congressional committees an assessment of the military capability of the Republic of Cyprus to defend against threats to its national security, including threats posed by hostile foreign governments and international terrorist groups”.
The assessment should include “an analysis of the effect on the national security of Cyprus of the United States policy to deny applications for licenses and other approvals for the export of defense articles and defense services to the armed forces of Cyprus.”
It should also include “an analysis of the extent to which such United States policy is consistent with overall United States security and policy objectives in the region.”
Finally it should include “an assessment of the potential impact of lifting such United States policy.”
The amendment on the provision on Cyprus was proposed by Senator Robert Menendez.
REPORT ON TERRORISM
The Government of the Republic of Cyprus collaborated closely with the United States, the EU, and other countries – bilaterally and multilaterally – in international counter-terrorism efforts in 2014, a US State Department report notes.
The report says that Cyprus’ counter-terrorism partnership with the United States included regular, routine protection for transiting U.S. military personnel, aircraft, and naval vessels throughout 2014; and participation in the Department of State’s Anti-terrorism Assistance and Regional Strategic Initiative programs, which strengthened the government’s capacity to counter terrorism.
Furthermore, the report notes that Cyprus is since 1974 divided and that the US does not recognize the declaration of the `state` in the Turkish occupied areas, nor does any country other than Turkey.
As regards Turkish Cypriots, it said that they “lacked the legal and institutional framework necessary to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism effectively. Within these limitations, however, Turkish Cypriots cooperated in pursuing specific counter-terrorism objectives”.
Referring to the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), it notes that Cyprus is a member of the coalition and that in October, the government approved French civil aviation authorities’ request to access Paphos airbase to support humanitarian operations in Iraq.
“The government began an inter-agency review of its legal framework for addressing foreign terrorist fighters, including a review of its 2010 counter-terrorism law to begin to implement UN Security Council Resolution 2178. Cyprus police have conducted a seminar on the foreign terrorist fighters issue. In September 2014, the police investigated five people for possible facilitation of travel to conflict areas abroad, but nothing suspicious was revealed”, the report says.
It also notes that in 2014, the Council of Ministers approved a new National Counter-terrorism Strategy for the Republic of Cyprus, based on the four pillars of the corresponding EU strategy: “Prevent, Pursue, Protect, and Respond.”
On countering the Financing of Terrorism, it says that Cyprus is a member of the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL), a Financial Action Task Force-style regional body and that Cyprus’ financial intelligence unit (FIU), the Unit for Combating Money Laundering (MOKAS), is a member of the Egmont Group.
In addition to hosting and participating in OSCE counter-terrorism programs, Cyprus participated in counter-terrorism initiatives of the UN and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, the report says.
SLOAT MET ANASTASIADES
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the State Department Amanda Sloat has expressed optimism over the positive climate in the Cyprus reunification talks and has said the US is prepared to do everything it can “to be supportive.”
“We are obviously very optimistic about the resumption of talks”, Sloat said after having been received by Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, on Friday.
She added that “we are prepared to do everything that we can in the United States to be supportive.”
“I had good meetings with both of the leaders while I was here, so there is obviously a very positive climate, a lot of optimism and we in the United States share that,” she pointed out.
Asked what the US can do to help that climate, the US official said that “we are continuing to work with our ambassador here, continuing to follow events very closely in Washington.”
She continued noting that “it was useful for me to be able to be here and to have a good series of meetings with leaders on both sides, with the communities on both side and I will be taking back very – very positive impressions to Washington.”