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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 98-07-09

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Thursday, July 9, 1998

Suspect building materials used?

THE MAIN topics and obsessions that have dominated the front pages for months, refuse to go away. Yesterday's papers led with the Cyprus problem, the S-300 missiles and the strained Greek-Turkish relations.

Simerini was the only exception. It led with a report claiming that the materials being used for the construction of the new Nicosia General Hospital were not those stipulated in contract specifications. Concrete blocks for the building, estimated to cost 50 million, were being made with materials inferior to those specified.

The problem was identified after an inspection by the Control Directorate of the Ministry of Communications and Works, which had informed Public Works in writing. After the ministry's intervention, the proper material was used. However the Auditor-general has ordered an investigation.

Phileleftheros said the governments in Athens and Nicosia considered continued Turkish references to "heated incidents" in Cyprus as forms of blackmail. Greek foreign ministry sources attributed Ankara's behaviour to political instability in Turkey.

There were fears that the Ankara government would resort to this tactic in order to deflect attention of the Turkish public away from acute domestic problems. If tension increased, the Cyprus government would appeal to the UN Security Council as a precaution.

Alithia quoted Greece's government spokesman Demetris Repas describing Turkey's demand for the demilitarisation of the Aegean islands as unacceptable. The demand, based on international agreements, was made to Greece's ambassador to Turkey.

Repas said Greece had every right to bolster the defences of the islands as Turkey had set up an 'Aegean Army division' and created a fleet of 200 landing craft.

Haravghi led with a statement issued by Akel, which said the Cyprus problem had entered an "exceedingly critical" period, given the absence of talks and rising military tension. Meanwhile Ankara and Rauf Denktash, by upping their demands, ensured that the talks deadlock remained.

The US initiative, in which President Clerides had put all his faith, had failed as the Americans did not put any pressure on the Turkish side. Clerides' policy was bankrupt, Akel concluded.

Machi reported that Defence Minister Yiannakis Omirou, currently on a visit to Russia with National Guard Chief Demetris Demou, would watch a test-firing of the Russian S-300 missiles. He would also visit the camp at which Cypriot officers were receiving training on the missiles.

The paper said the government had tried to play down Omirou's and General Demou's visit.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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