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AHI President, Congressman Bilirakis: State Department at Odds with Itself on Removing Republic of Cyprus from ITAR List

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WASHINGTON, DC —American Hellenic Institute (AHI) President Nick Larigakis and U.S. Rep. Gus M. Bilirakis (R-FL), co-chair, Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, co-authored an op-ed piece for The Hill, a top U.S. political website vital to policy, politics, and election campaigns, titled, “State Department Need Not be at Odds with Itself on Republic of Cyprus/ITAR Policy.”

The authors contend the State Department’s response to a Rep. Bilirakis-led December 2018 congressional letter places the department at odds with itself on the issue of removing the Republic of Cyprus from a list of countries to which sales and transfers of defense articles and services is prohibited under the International Trade in Arms Regulations (ITAR).

On one hand, the State Department stated that a policy of prohibition may apply “whenever an export of defense articles or defense services would not otherwise be in furtherance of world peace and the security and foreign policy of the United States.”  However, the department’s response also acknowledged Cyprus has “a shared interest in combatting terrorism, enhancing maritime and border security, and promoting regional stability,” and the United States is exploring an enhanced security relationship with Cyprus.  The letter cites November 2018’s Statement of Intent agreement as an example.

President Larigakis and Congressman Bilirakis write: “Therefore, the State Department’s response is at odds with itself.  Either Cyprus is a threat to peace, stability and U.S. security interests or it is a reliable ally which promotes regional stability and security.  It cannot be both.”

 The authors argue the portion of the territory of Cyprus which Turkey occupies should remain on the ITAR list. 

“It is the presence of the 40,000 strong Turkish occupation force which falls into the four categories of the ITAR list,” they write.