Bi-partisan US Senate Act to end arms Cyprus embargo, offers aid to Greece

A bi-partisan bill - Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 - tabled in the US Senate by Bob Menendez (Dem. - New Jersey) and Mark Rubio (Rep. - Florida) provides for the lifting of the arms embargo on Cyprus, military aid to Greece, and support for the trilateral Greece-Cyprus-Israel energy and defence cooperation.

The Act would reshape US policy in the region in a comprehensive strategic framework

US-Turkey crisis

The bill comes in the midst of a severe crisis in US-Turkey relations arising from Ankara's decision to buy Russian S-400 missile systems and to strengthen its embrace of Moscow. The purchase is sanctionable under US law.

Ankara has often tested the limits of US resolve for quite some time, as when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in February threatened that if Washington impeded Turkish operations in Syria it would receive the "Ottoman slap" ( a deadly martial arts technique).

'US security interests in Eastern Mediterranean'

"The United States has significant national security interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, bolstered by strong and expanding relationships with Greece, Israel, and Cyprus. The cooperation in energy security among these countries in recent years has paved the way for cooperation on a broad, regional security, economic, and energy agenda," said Menendez, a longtime staunch supporter of Greece.

Provisions in the Act

The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 would:

  • Lift the prohibition on arms sales to the Republic of Cyprus
  • Authorise the establishment of a United States-Eastern Mediterranean Energy Center to facilitate energy cooperation between the U.S.,...
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