New York — By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
The United States welcomes the efforts of the Republic of Cyprus to fight money laundering but continues to urge the Cypriot government to halt Russia’s regular navy port calls, said Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Matthew Palmer, in a letter to the President of the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) Nick Larigakis.
Both issues were a prerequisite for lifting the 33 year old Arms Embargo, according to laws signed in December by President Trump.
The President of AHI sent – on April 22, 2020 – a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asking the U.S. Administration to remove the arms prohibition on the Republic of Cyprus.
According to a press release issued by AHI, Nick Larigakis wrote to Secretary Pompeo requesting him to utilize the authority delegated to him by President Donald Trump under two recently enacted laws to waive the limitations placed on the transfer of arms to the Republic of Cyprus, and further, to remove the Republic of Cyprus altogether from the list of countries to which arms sales are prohibited under International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR).
In his letter, Matthew Palmer said that“on anti-money laundering efforts, the United States government welcomed the February MONEYVAL Mutual Evaluation Report on ROC’s [Republic of Cyprus’s] anti-money laundering measures, which showed ROC’s important progress in strengthening AML [anti-money laundering] efforts and combatting illicit financial flows.”
But, regarding the visits by Russian navy ships, Palmer said that “the United States continues to urge a halt in Russia’s regular navy port calls to the ROC. There is no doubt these vessels contribute to destabilizing actions in Syria.”
AHI President Nick Larigakis welcomed the letter’s reaffirmation of the United States’ view of the Republic of Cyprus as a “valued partner and friend in the Eastern Mediterranean” and assessment that U.S. cooperation with the Republic of Cyprus is at a “historic high.”
But he expressed his disappointment that several of AHI’s points made to remove the arms prohibition were not addressed.
“The letter does not address the issue of removing the Republic of Cyprus from the ITAR list and did not acknowledge AHI’s points related to the issue of access of Russian military vessels to Cypriot ports,” Larigakis said.
Larigakis added that according to the letter, the State Department will review “all tools available to deepen security cooperation with the Republic of Cyprus.”
Finally, Larigakis thanked Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Palmer for expressing his appreciation in the letter for the ‘important role’ AHI plays in contributing to efforts to deepen bilateral relations between the United States and Republic of Cyprus.