Relations between U.S. and Turkey continue to worsen over Mediterranean and closure U.S.–Cyprus ties

NICOSIA — Recent U.S. statements in Cyprus have escalated tensions between Washington and Ankara at a time when relations between the historical close allies have significantly worsened.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during a meeting with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades on Saturday, expressed the U.S.’s concern about Turkey’s actions in the eastern Mediterranean. Earlier this month, he announced that the U.S. will lift the embargo on supplying arms to Cyprus, in addition to signing a memorandum of understanding to establish a training center, a move Turkey strongly opposes.

On Monday, Turkey stated that the U.S. should return to taking a neutral stance on Cyprus, stating that the memorandum would not serve peace and stability in the eastern Mediterranean. Instead, it would harm the solution of Cyprus problem, referring to its disputed water issue with Cyprus.

After monitoring Russian movements in Cypriot ports, Pompeo expressed deep concern, stating, “Russian warships at Cypriot ports are not carrying out humanitarian missions in Syria. We asked the President of Cyprus to take our concerns into consideration.”

Pompeo’s statement about Russian intentions comes after assurances from Cypriot Foreign Minister Nikos Christodoulides that, “the Russian presence in Cyprus is absolutely humanitarian and Russia does not need to establish a base in Cyprus, especially as it has bases in Syria.”