US Senator Bob Menendez, a well-known ally of Greeks and Greek Cypriots, is on a private visit to Nicosia on Monday where he will receive the island’s highest honor.
(Click here for an update to the story)
Menendez, who serves as Chairman the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was scheduled to fly to Cyprus on a private visit on Monday after stopping in Athens last week where he called Greece “a pillar of stability” in the region.
The senator from New Jersey, the main architect of the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act, will be honored by Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades with the Grand Cross of the Order of Makarios III “for his contribution to the promotion of human rights, rule of law and democracy,” according to the Cyprus News Agency.
CNA also reported that during an afternoon meeting in Nicosia, Menendez will hold talks with the Greek Cypriot leadership on strengthening relations between the United States and the Republic of Cyprus.
The senator is known in Greek Cypriot media for using his current position to pressure the US government in keeping Turkey in check while he also rallied fellow senators around the Armenian cause
Earlier this year, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said American diplomacy will be “fully engaged” on the Cyprus issue, with Menendez seeking similar statements from other State officials during important committee hearings.
The senator is known in Greek Cypriot media for using his current position to pressure the US government in keeping Turkey in check while he also rallied fellow senators around the Armenian cause.
Last April US President Joe Biden used the weighty word “genocide” in a statement meant to honor “all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today."
Turkey accepts that many Armenians living in the Ottoman Empire were killed in clashes with Ottoman forces during World War One but denies killings were either systematically orchestrated or constituted genocide.
An Armenian vote in the Senate had been previously blocked by former President Donald Trump’s fellow Republican senators since meeting with Erdogan.
Menendez, who married Armenian Nadine Arslanian last year, has made a name for himself as a harsh critic of Ankara and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In an exclusive interview with Kathimerini Greece, Menendez said Erdogan’s support for a two-state solution in Cyprus “would be in violation of the UN resolutions.”
“I think it certainly would be hopeful that if there was a new leadership in Turkey, that it would hopefully fulfill the aspirations we all have,” the senator said.