The US State Department’s latest fact sheet on the Republic of Cyprus heralds a bright future of cooperation between the countries, with relations between the superpower and the island nation described as being at a historic high.
According to a fact sheet authored by the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Washington views Nicosia as an “important partner for regional stability, security, and prosperity,” adding that the two capitals work closely together to advance shared security priorities in the eastern Mediterranean region.
The fact sheet listed a number of “concrete successes” in bullet points, including Cyprus’ first-time participation in the International Military Education Training Program as well as support for a deployment of US troops in 2020.
Back in January 2020, Nicosia said the Republic of Cyprus had accepted a request from Washington regarding the arrival of an American Rapid Deployment Forces unit in case of an emergency.
Washington had asked Cyprus to give its consent for the unit to be stationed temporarily on the island, after Tehran targeted an American military base in Iraq in retaliation for the US killing General Qasem Soleimani days earlier.
The US had embarked on a number of other steps to increase cooperation with Cyprus, following a Partnership Act of 2019 which sets out to delineate American strategy in the region
The fact sheet also made reference to a temporary waive in arms regulations restrictions, which Washington announced last year, essentially allowing for the direct commercial sale of non-lethal defense articles and services to and from Cyprus.
A partial lifting of a decades-old embargo on small arms to the Republic of Cyprus, a decision criticized by Turkey, had been delegated to former State Secretary Mike Pompeo, who made a surprise visit to Nicosia last year where he signed an MoU for the construction of CYCLOPS, a new training center on the island funded by Washington.
CYCLOPS, which was listed on the fact sheet, stands for Cyprus Center for Land, Open-sea, and Port Security regional training center, a $5-million project focusing on border security and preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
The US had embarked on a number of other steps to increase cooperation with Cyprus, following the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 which sets out to delineate American strategy in the region.
But last November, US Assistant Secretary of State for Military Affairs Clarke Cooper expressed concerns that Cyprus had “not yet taken the steps necessary to deny port access to Russian naval vessels,” a measure that was included in the Partnership Act.
“These are very honest conversations,” Cooper said during a press briefing at the time, adding that “we must see further assurances about their ability to deny port access to Russian naval vessels.”
The fact sheet, which was published on Monday, said the two countries were working closely together to advance shared security priorities in the Eastern Mediterranean region.
“Our bilateral partnership also continues to grow in other areas of common interest, such as countering illicit financial flows, diversifying European energy sources, fostering opportunities for greater trade and investment, and protecting cultural heritage,” the fact sheet concluded.