US President signs defence bill allowing sale of defensive weapons to Cyprus

US President signs defence bill allowing sale of defensive weapons to Cyprus

US President Barack Obama signed on Wednesday the US National Defence Authorization Act, which includes an amendment allowing the sale of US defensive weapons to the Republic of Cyprus.

The amendment, co-sponsored by Congressmen David Cicilline and Gus Bilirakis, allows the sale of US defensive weapons, under the condition that the Secretaries of Defence and State submit a report to Congress assessing the impact of the embargo on Cyprus’ national security and counter-terrorism efforts.

The embargo, which dates back to 1992, bans the export of defensive weapons to the Republic of Cyprus, according to Congressman Cicilline. 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.

The embargo “fails to reflect the relationship Cyprus and the United States have today as allies and strategic partners in the global war on terror,” Cicilline said in a statement.

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 offshore vessels.

The Hellenic American Leadership Council 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,” he concluded.