The United States government is proceeding with the historic decision to completely lift the arms embargo imposed against the Republic of Cyprus in 1987.
It is recalled that the first major step in this direction was taken in September 2020, when the then US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, called Nikos Christodoulidis to announce the partial lifting of the embargo. This specific event had opened the way for the sale of American non-lethal weapons to Cyprus, providing that the partial lifting of the embargo should be renewed with a relevant order on an annual basis.
With the new decision, the US government is proceeding to normalize its defense relations with the Republic of Cyprus, as there will no longer be restrictions on the sale of arms. Nevertheless, the lifting of the embargo will continue to be renewed on an annual basis, as the East Med Act of 2019 and the National Defense Appropriations Act (NDAA) for the year 2020 provide that the US president must certify to the relevant congressional committees that the Republic of Cyprus continues to cooperate with the US government in a number of critical areas.
In particular, it is provided that the State Department must check every year that the Cypriot government:
· Collaborate on reforms to anti-money laundering regulations and financial regulatory oversight.
· Continues to take the necessary measures to deny access to ports of Russian warships for supply and servicing.
In any case, however, today's decision to completely lift the embargo is considered to be an additional step that reflects the ever-increasing importance that American foreign policy attaches to relations with Cyprus, as well as the closer defense cooperation that has been built in recent years years on the basis of the "East Med Act".
The State Department announcement on the lifting of restrictions on defense trade with the Republic of Cyprus for fiscal year 2023:
"Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has determined and certified to Congress that the Republic of Cyprus has met the necessary conditions under relevant legislation in order to allow the approval of exports, re-exports and transfers of defense material to the Republic of Cyprus for fiscal year 2023. Compliance with the conditions evaluated on an annual basis. As a result of this decision and certification, the Secretary (Foreign Affairs) has lifted defense trade restrictions on the Republic of Cyprus for fiscal year 2023. The International Trade in Arms Regulations (ITAR) will be amended to reflect the new policy, effective 1 October 2022.
The East Med Act of 2019 and the Fiscal Year 2020 Defense Appropriation Act (NDAA) require that the policy of denying exports, re-exports or transfers of defense material to Cyprus remain in place Republic of the United States war supplies list, unless the president determines and certifies to appropriate congressional committees, at least annually, that the government of the Republic of Cyprus continues to cooperate with the government of the United States in regulatory reform efforts for anti-money laundering and financial regulatory oversight, and that the Government of the Republic of Cyprus has taken and continues to take the necessary measures to deny access to ports of Russian warships for supply and servicing. Under both laws, the State Department audits compliance with the laws annually."