Cyprus is in a position to “find a whole new day in its relationship with the United States and with the West,” US Senator Robert Menendez said during a visit to Nicosia on Tuesday.
The New Jersey senator's comments came after he held informal talks with Cyprus President Nikos Anastasiades during a visit that comes a week after he announced a bipartisan bill seeking to lift the US arms embargo on Cyprus, which has been in place since 1987.
The discussion with Anastasiades was “excellent, extensive and very positive,” Menendez said, according to Cypriot media.
“We talked about many important subjects; the Eastern Mediterranean’s security strategy and energy strategy, Cyprus’ continuous engagement with the United States, questions of our foreign policy in the region, economic questions, the changing dynamics of Cyprus in its banking zone,” the US senator was reported as saying.
Introduced by Menendez, a Democrat and also a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Republican Marco Rubio of Florida, the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 would allow the US to fully support the trilateral partnership of Israel, Greece, and Cyprus through energy and defense cooperation initiatives – including by lifting the embargo on arms transfers to the Republic of Cyprus.
The legislation also seeks to update US strategy in recognition of consequential changes in the Eastern Mediterranean, including the recent discovery of large natural gas fields, and a deterioration of Turkey’s relationship with the United States.
“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 of the pact. “The time has come for the US to deepen this cooperation and build on the constructive progress made by our allies to help ensure a secure Eastern Mediterranean. This legislation seeks to strengthen our bonds of friendship through joint efforts to promote peace, prosperity, and security for our nations.”
“This bipartisan legislation will continue to enhance our mutual energy and security cooperation with our allies in the Eastern Mediterranean region,” Rubio said. “By lifting the US Arms Embargo on Cyprus and extending necessary Foreign Military Assistance to Greece, this legislation brings forth a comprehensive approach to the stability of key regional partners.” [Combined reports]