Turkey has warned that the United States’ decision to end a decades-old arms embargo on Cyprus would be a “dangerous escalation.”
In a statement issued late Tuesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry said the US decision “will have no outcome other than hampering efforts toward a settlement on the island and creating a dangerous escalation.”
The US Congress voted Tuesday to lift the arms embargo on Cyprus, which has been in place since 1987. The measure has passed both chambers of Congress as part of a massive defense spending bill, with President Donald Trump likely to sign it.
The bill comes at a time of tensions between Turkey and the US over such issues as Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 system and Washington’s support for Kurdish-led militants in Syria.
Cyprus has been divided into Turkish Cypriot-controlled northern and Greek Cypriot-controlled southern territories since a brief war in 1974, which saw Turkey intervene militarily in response to a military coup on the island sponsored by the Greek military junta of the time.
Greek Cypriots run the island’s internationally recognized government, while Turkish Cypriots have the breakaway territory in the north — only recognized as a “state” by Turkey.
Turkey and the Greek Cyprus, which do not have diplomatic ties, are also involved in a dispute over offshore resources. Ankara says some areas of Cyprus’s offshore maritime zone fall under what it calls the territory of the Turkish Cyprus.
Turkey already has two drilling vessels in the Eastern Mediterranean despite the threat of European Union sanctions.