AFP

Cyprus welcomes US military training funds 9 July 2020 - 19:30

Cyprus on Thursday hailed a US decision to provide it with military training funds for the first time, saying it took relations with Washington to another level.The United States announced the move Wednesday, angering its NATO ally Turkey which occupies the northern third of Cyprus.Cypriot government spokesman Kyriacos Koushos called it "another action contributing to further upgrading Cyprus' relations with the United States." "It is also a symbol of our country's upgraded role as a pillar of stability, security and cooperation," he said in a statement Thursday.The Mediterranean island has been divided since 1974, between the Greek Cypriot-controlled south and the breakaway Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.Tensions have flared in recent years over Turkey's drilling for gas off the island, which the European Union calls illegal.But Koushos said the Republic of Cyprus -- an EU member -- would continue to cooperate and enhance its relations with all countries to enhance stability and security in the region. The programme seeks to train foreign officers and increase friendly nations' interoperability with the US military.US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters the move was "part of our efforts to enhance relationships with key regional partners to promote stability in the Eastern Mediterranean".But the Turkish foreign ministry warned it would not "contribute to efforts of finding a solution to the Cyprus problem but rather further strengthen the Greek Cypriot side's uncompromising attitude".The US move came after Congress last year ended a decades-long arms embargo that had aimed to avoid an arms race and encourage a peace efforts on the island.The United States imposed the embargo in 1987, aiming to avoid an arms race and encourage a peaceful resolution on the island.Washington is keen to nurture security ties between Cyprus and key US ally Israel, as well as Greece.Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 in response to a coup engineered by the then-military regime in Athens, which sought to unite the island with Greece.UN-backed talks on reunifying the island as a bizonal, bi-communal federation collapsed in July 2017 and have not resumed, in part because of deep divisions over offshore gas.Ankara has no diplomatic relations with the Republic of Cyprus, dismissing it as an exclusively Greek Cypriot administration.

Issue 86