Pappas, Bilirakis, Titus, Malliotakis Introduce the Bipartisan End the Cyprus Embargo Act

Hellenic Leaders
5 min readMay 1, 2024

May 1, 2024

Today Representatives Chris Pappas (NH-01), Gus Bilirakis (FL-12), Nicole Malliotakis (NY-11), Dina Titus (NV-01), co-chairs and vice co-chairs of the Hellenic Caucus, introduced the End the Cyprus Embargo Act, bipartisan legislation that would extend the waiver renewal period for the arms embargo on the Republic of Cyprus from one year to five years. This change will bolster the historic growth in U.S.-Cypriot relations, enhance bilateral cooperation, and advance U.S. security interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. The legislation was introduced ahead of the 50th anniversary of Turkey’s illegal invasion and occupation of northern Cyprus.

Over the past two decades, U.S.-Cyprus relations have strengthened substantially, with Cyprus emerging as a pivotal ally for U.S. interests and regional stability. The Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act of 2019 authorized the President to waive the arms embargo on an annual basis. However, the annual renewal requirement restricts Cyprus’s ability to plan and procure U.S. defense articles effectively, compromises U.S.-Cypriot military interoperability, impedes joint research on cybersecurity and maritime security, and diminishes the effectiveness of the National Guard State Partnership Program in Cyprus.

“The Republic of Cyprus is a steadfast, democratic ally in the Eastern Mediterranean. It’s time U.S. policy better reflects Cyprus’s role as an essential partner in our collective security architecture in the region,” said Congressman Pappas. “This change will further empower U.S.-Cyprus bilateral relations, support our mutual commitment to collaboration on security and defense, and improve their ability for long-term planning and procurement.”

“Cyprus has proven itself to be a valued and reliable partner for the United States,” said Congressman Bilirakis. “Giving Cyprus planning certainty will allow the partnership to continue to flourish and will prove mutually beneficial for both nations and our allies.”

“Cyprus is a key partner in the Mediterranean and the U.S. must continue making efforts to improve diplomatic relations between our two countries,” said Congresswoman Titus. “Reducing the number of necessary embargo reviews for aid to Cyprus will allow this important ally to strategically plan for the future while supporting U.S. security interests abroad.”

“For too long, the United States has maintained an outdated and counterproductive embargo on the sale of defense materials and services to the Republic of Cyprus,” Congresswoman Malliotakis said. “Our legislation seeks to correct this by recognizing Cyprus as a key strategic partner in the Eastern Mediterranean and allow for the responsible export of U.S. defense items to support our shared security interests. By strengthening Cyprus’s ability to defend itself, we can promote greater stability in the region.”

“AHI congratulates Congressman Chris Pappas for introducing critical and meaningful legislation, the “End the Cyprus Embargo Act.” Cyprus has been unfairly subject to an arms prohibition for decades, an injustice that AHI has sought to correct for a long time. Progress has been made on this issue, and Rep. Pappas’ legislation will cement existing gains and create further progress. Ultimately, AHI looks forward to the day Cyprus is removed from the International Traffic in Arms Regulation (ITAR) list altogether to make it eligible to acquire U.S. defense articles and defense services without conditions, especially because the United States values Cyprus as a strategic partner. We thank Rep. Pappas for his outstanding leadership on this issue, and all other issues of concern regarding the Eastern Mediterranean region,” said Nick Larigakis, President of the American Hellenic Institute.

“The 2020 lifting of the U.S. arms embargo on Cyprus, pursuant to the Eastern Mediterranean Security and Energy Partnership Act, was a milestone in the U.S.-Cyprus bilateral relationship. It has already proven to have a positive effect on the increasingly integrated Eastern Mediterranean. As Cyprus continues to demonstrate its value as an essential partner of the U.S. and Israel in efforts to advance peace, stability, and cooperation in the East Med, the End the Cyprus Embargo Act will help continue this vital momentum. We appreciate the bipartisan effort led by Representatives Chris Pappas, Gus Bilirakis, Dina Titus, and Nicole Malliotakis in bringing this legislation forward,” said Ted Deutch, CEO of American Jewish Committee.

“FDD Action strongly supports the “End the Cyprus Embargo Act”. Cyprus is an important U.S. partner in the Eastern Mediterranean and has been instrumental in efforts to combat terrorism, fight sanctions evasion, and counter money laundering. Cyprus is also working with key allies such as Israel to facilitate humanitarian aid to Gaza. Given this valuable cooperation as well as its demonstrated record of responsible conduct, Cyprus should be able to purchase weapons and munitions for its security. This legislation would provide Cyprus with the resources to protect its sovereignty and improve interoperability with the U.S. military, deepening an already strong and productive partnership,” said FDD Action.

“5 years ago, Congress took a huge step to correct a policy that was preventing the US-Cyprus security relationship from functioning. While the annual waiver of the Cyprus arms embargo has been a welcome development, Representatives Pappas, Bilirakis, Malliotakis and Titus have correctly concluded that it does not allow US-Cyprus security cooperation to be optimized to the level required by regional challenges. Congress leads again and the U.S., Cyprus and the Western alliance will all be stronger once this legislation passes,” said Endy Zemenides, Executive Director of Hellenic American Leadership Council.

“The International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA) applauds and supports the efforts of Rep. Pappas to put an end to the Cyprus Embargo Act. As we do for Ukraine, who is a victim of an illegal invasion, the United States should not only end the Embargo, but it should provide military assistance to our strategic partner, Cyprus,” said Philip Christopher, President of the International Coordinating Committee Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA).

The End the Cyprus Embargo Act will solidify U.S.-Cypriot relations, foster long-term planning and cooperation, and ensure interoperability with regional allies. Specifically, this legislation will:

  • Extend the waiver renewal period for the arms embargo from one year to five years.
  • Permit the President to reconsider the arms embargo waiver only every five years following its enactment.
  • Prohibit the President from terminating the waiver unless Congress receives certification that the Republic of Cyprus is no longer:
  • Cooperating with U.S. efforts to implement anti-money laundering regulations and financial oversight reforms; and
  • Denying Russian military vessels access to ports for refueling and servicing.

This legislation is supported by the American Hellenic Institute (AHI), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), Coordinated Effort of Hellenes, FDD Action, the Hellenic American Leadership Council (HALC), and PSKEA (International Coordinating Committee — Justice for Cyprus).



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