State Department To Lift Defense Trade Sanctions on Cyprus in 2023, Angering Turkey

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken announced on Sept. 16 that the Republic of Cyprus is now in compliance with relevant international laws and treaties, and the United States will lift its defense trade sanctions for fiscal year 2023.

Prior to issuing the statement, Blinken indicated that they had analyzed and certified that the Republic of Cyprus was in full cooperation with the United States.

The announcement noted that the Republic of Cyprus had been successful “in efforts to implement reforms on anti-money laundering regulations and financial regulatory oversight, and that the Government of the Republic of Cyprus has made and is continuing to take the steps necessary to deny Russian military vessels access to ports for refueling and servicing.”

Prior to the determination, Cyprus had been facing sanctions through the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 and the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020.

Those acts “require that the policy of denial for exports, re-exports, or transfers of defense articles on the United States Munitions List to the Republic of Cyprus remain in place unless the President determines and certifies to the appropriate congressional committees not less than annually that the Government of the Republic of Cyprus is continuing to cooperate with the United States government.”

Turkey responded by stating that the country will increase its military presence in the territory of northern Cyprus occupied by Turkey.

“The United States, which overlooks and even encourages the steps by the Cypriot-Greek duo that threaten peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean, will lead to an armament race on the island with this step,” said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. “Everyone must know that this last step will not go unresponded and that every precaution will be taken for the security of the Turkish Cypriots.”