Greek Cypriots are rejecting Turkish Cypriot claims that American actions disrupt balance on the divided island, following the recent docking of a US attack submarine in Limassol, with Nicosia accusing the north of regurgitating Ankara’s longstanding criticism.
Government Spokesperson Konstantinos Letymbiotis on Monday dismissed Turkish statements that “strongly condemned” a recent docking of a US attack submarine in Limassol, along with Washington lifting an arms embargo on Cyprus and other military cooperation.
Letymbiotis, who said Turkish and Turkish Cypriot statements were regurgitating previous claims, pointed out that Nicosia was “focusing on strengthening relations with the US” which included recent agreements in the defense sector.
“We do not see any disruption of balance. What we are pursuing, as the Republic of Cyprus, given our foreign policy and defense agreements, is a tightening of collaborations with other countries in the domain of defense,” he said.
Cyprus-USA bond not against Turkish Cypriots
Defense Minister Michalis Giorgallas on Monday described military ties between the Republic of Cyprus and the United States as “an upgraded relationship.”
“I have said many time that this upgraded position doesn’t stand against our Turkish Cypriot compatriots,” Giorgallas said.
The minister, who spoke on an AlphaNews television program, went on to suggest that after a solution to the Cyprus Problem the relationship with the United States would act as protection for Turkish Cypriots as well.
Giorgallas singles out Russian vessels
Giorgallas went to explain that the USS San Juan’s docking in Limassol was part of Nicosia’s upgraded relationship with Washington as well as other countries, saying vessels from friendly nations were welcome.
'We continue to offer port services to any ship from a friendly nation that has a need, and this is an activity, if you will, for Limassol companies in the industry to have work'
The defense minister pointed out that Russian ships could not dock in the Republic of Cyprus but stopped short of calling Russia an unfriendly country.
“Due to European Union policy and sanctions imposed on Russia, we cannot provide port services to vessels from this nationality,” Giorgallas said.
Nicosia started blocking Russian ships after Moscow ordered troops into Ukraine last year. Washington had been calling on Greek Cypriots to deny port access to naval ships form the former Soviet country in previous years.
Russia has included the Republic of Cyprus and other EU countries on a list of unfriendly nations following sanctions imposed by the bloc on Moscow.
Cyprus has a sizeable population of Russians, especially in the southern town of Limassol which has been dubbed Limassolgrad, prompting critics to say Nicosia was shooting itself on the foot over sanctions.
But Giorgallas, who pointed out that there were many friendly ships in the area, suggested companies in Limassol could reap benefits from the current situation.
“We continue to offer port services to any ship from a friendly nation that has a need, and this is an activity, if you will, for Limassol companies in the industry to have work,” he said.