Turkey threatens Washington if US ends Cyprus arms embargo

Turkey threatens Washington if US ends Cyprus arms embargo
The Turkish foreign ministry has vowed to respond to 'initaitives against Turkey' as the US congress votes to end an arms embargo on Cyprus.
2 min read
18 December, 2019
The US has voted to end an arms embargo on Cyprus [Getty]
Turkey has warned that US moves to lift a decades-old arms embargo on Cyprus would be a "dangerous escalation", as relations deteriorated further between the NATO allies.

The US Congress voted Tuesday to end the embargo on the island, which was imposed in 1987 to avoid an arms race and encourage the conflict's resolution.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974 when Turkey invaded in response to a coup engineered by the then military regime in Athens.

The US decision "will have no outcome other than hampering efforts towards a settlement on the island and creating a dangerous escalation", the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement late Tuesday.

The US measure was approved as part of a large defence spending bill that passed both chambers of the US Congress, with President Donald Trump expected to sign it into law.

Read more: Turkey considers military force in Cyprus gas dispute 

Relations between Ankara and Washington are at one of the lowest points in recent history.

There are multiple disagreements causing tensions including US support for a Syrian Kurdish militia viewed by Turkey as terrorists and Ankara's purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defence system.

The US has threatened further sanctions over the S-400 deal after removing Turkey from the F-35 fighter jet programme earlier this year.

The Turkish foreign ministry vowed to respond to "initiatives against Turkey", saying that "the language of threats and sanctions will never dissuade Turkey from resolutely taking steps to ensure its national security".

This comes after Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed that he could shut down two key American bases in the country following threats of sanctions after Senate resolutions were passed to recognise mass killings of Armenians almost a century ago as genocide.

Turkey could shut down its Incirlik Air Base, which hosts US nuclear warheads.

"If it is necessary for us to take such a step, of course we have the authority… If this is necessary, together with our delegations, we will close down Incirlik if necessary," Erdogan said on AlHaber TV on Sunday.

The president added that he may also close the Kurecik radar base if necessary.

"If they are threating us with the implementation of these sanctions, of course we will be retaliating."

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