Turkey slammed on Tuesday the United States’ decision to partially lift the arms embargo on Greek Cypriots, saying that Ankara would take a countermeasure unless Washington reconsiders its decision.
If the U.S. doesn’t reconsider its decision to lift the arms embargo from Greek Cypriots, Turkey will take countersteps, said Turkish Foreign Ministry in a statement on Tuesday, calling the move incompatible with the spirit of the alliance between the nations.
The U.S. is partially lifting its arms embargo on Southern Cyprus, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed Greek Cypriot administration leader Nicos Anastasiades on Tuesday. Pompeo and Anastasiades discussed their “deepening” security relationship during a telephone call, according to the State Department.
The decision will affect the export, re-export, retransfer and import of non-lethal defense articles and services for the upcoming fiscal year that begins in October.
“The Republic of Cyprus is a key partner in the Eastern Mediterranean,” Pompeo said separately on Twitter. “I am pleased to announce that we are deepening our security cooperation. We will waive restrictions on the sale of non-lethal defense articles and services to the Republic of Cyprus for the coming fiscal year.”
The U.S. embargoed arms sales to Greek Cypriot administration in 1987 under the pretext of preventing an arms buildup on the island.
The U.S. announcement comes amid markedly strained tensions in the region between Turkey and several nations in the Eastern Mediterranean. The European Commission earlier Tuesday called for dialogue with Turkey to find a solution to de-escalate the crisis.
Apparently seeking to block Turkey’s maritime territorial claims, Greece signed exclusive economic zone (EEZ) deals with Italy on June 9 and with Egypt on Aug. 7. The Turkish Foreign Ministry slammed the latter pact in a statement, asserting that Greece and Egypt share no sea borders and the deal is “null and void.” It added that the demarcated area in the pact is located in Turkey’s continental shelf, as Ankara reported to the United Nations.