US State Department Director at the Office of Southern European Affairs Yuri Kim said that strengthening ties with Cyprus and enhancing relations with Greece was to the benefit of the United States.
Kim called Ankara’s decision to proceed with the acquisition of the Russian S-400 system problematic, saying that Turkey hopes it will be able to avoid economic sanctions through President Trump’s political decision.
During a panel discussion in the framework of the 35th Annual Conference of the International Coordinating Committee – Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA), in Washington, along with former US Ambassadors to Greece and Cyprus, Kim pointed out that “there are lots of things that we want to do and we need to do, but in these things must you keep in mind it’s a two-way street, it takes two to tango.”
“For all the things we would like to do, we are going to need our partners on the island to also. They are showing they are ready, we still want to do more so we will keep that up,” Kim said.
Kim noted that “over the next few weeks and months you will also see a little bit more action, some are involving strong congressional interest – always very helpful – but in reality, there will be things happening that we surely won’t advertise.”
US State Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Palmer is in Nicosia to discuss the arms embargo on Cyprus. Kim emphasized that “the first thing to do is understand what is wanted and then decide how to get there.”
“Last month we had a Deputy Assistant Secretary from our counterterrorism bureau in Nicosia. Before an Assistant Secretary from the Treasury Department to work on improving the transparency of the banking sector,” Kim noted.
Regarding the US stance on the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus (UNFICYP), Kim said “we have policy regarding peacekeeping operations” in general, one of them being that “there has to be an exit strategy” and a second being that “these peacekeeping operations have to be in support of the political process, not in place of the political process.”
Analysing the US stance on the escalating tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean region, the top State Department official explained that Washington was making every effort to bring down the tones between the three countries.