US Lifting Cyprus Arms Embargo Will Fuel Weapons Buildup on Both Sides of Island - Tatar
© AP Photo / Bilal HusseinA cargo ship navigates the Mediterranean Sea along the coastline of northern city of Tripoli, Lebanon, Monday, Dec. 6, 2021.
© AP Photo / Bilal Hussein
UNITED NATIONS (Sputnik) - The US decision to lift the weapons embargo on the Greek Cypriot administration will spark an arms buildup on the north and south sides of the island, Turkish Cypriot President Ersin Tatar told Sputnik on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
The State Department last week lifted all defense trade restrictions on Cyprus after determining it met US legal requirements by denying Russian vessels access to ports and implementing anti-money laundering reforms.
On Saturday, Turkey's defense ministry, in a statement condemning the move, said Ankara will continue to guarantee the existence, security and serenity of the Turkish Cypriots.
"This will obviously provoke us to ask for further arms from Turkey because we need to protect ourselves," Tatar said. "It will only amount to arming both the south and the north."
North Cyprus and Turkey, he added, protested this decision because it will provide more ammunition to Greek Cyprus, which already has plenty of arms.
"The Western world is rewarding Greek Cyprus by lifting this embargo so that they can buy any amount of guns and other artillery from the Americans," Tatar said.
Lifting the embargo has complicated the situation, he added, and does not help prospects for a solution in Cyprus.
"With increasing tension you don't have the right environment to be able to talk in a sensible manner to solve the long standing Cyprus problem," Tatar said.
The Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus was declared in 1983 with Turkey's backing, although the island has been de facto divided since 1974. In late June, Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades expressed his readiness to resume negotiations under UN auspices.