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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 99-01-01

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, January 01, 1999

Missile fallout dominates front pages

ALL the papers yesterday focused their attention on the political fallout from President Clerides' cancellation of the Russian S-300 missiles.

Alithia said Cyprus' decision not to deploy the S-300 missiles on the island had been welcomed abroad. France called it a "wise and brave" decision, while Germany said it was now Turkey's turn to lower it's military presence on the island. The EU said its trust in Cyprus had been justified by the decision. The UN Secretary-general said there would now be negotiations for the reduction of tensions on the island.

Alithia also said consultations had started in government ranks for the possible replacement of the defence and education ministers, after Edek warned that it would pull out of the government coalition over the non- deployment of the missiles.

Akel mouthpiece Haravghi said the departure of Edek from the government would be put to the central committee today. The decision not to bring the missiles continued to cause ripples in the government, the paper said. It said that 1998 Presidential candidate George Iacovou believed the House should reopen the file on the S-300s. It also said there were problems within the Greek government because of the decision, with opposition parties holding Simitis responsible, and saying that the consequences of the climbdown were serious for the whole of Hellenism.

Pro-government Phileleftheros said the missile non-deployment would speed up moves towards a government reshuffle, with Clerides wanting to widen the base of the government, maintain links with Edek and give more attention to the Left.

Quoting government sources, the paper said 1999 would be a difficult year for Cyprus and its EU accession course and this called for as wide as possible an understanding of the goal, which is to break through the current deadlock on the Cyprus problem.

The paper also reported that an order placed with the Italian government for Aspide missiles could now go ahead following the cancellation of the S- 300s. Rome had not wanted the Aspide sale to contribute to raising tensions on the island.

Simerini said the developments were snowballing within the government. The paper said Cretans did not want the S-300s deployed on their island because the planned site at Sitia was a popular tourist area and locals feared it would upset the industry. It also said that 15 to 20 anti- aircraft Tor missiles might be installed in Cyprus instead of the S-300s. Simerini also reported an opinion poll which showed that 50.5 per cent of Cypriots wanted Clerides to resign over the missile fiasco while 48 per cent said he should remain in power. The majority of Cypriots disagreed with the position of Clerides and Simitis.

Machi gave prominence to the reaction of Archbishop Chrysostomos to the cancellation of the missiles. Chrysostomos gave a message of unity and foresaw stability in the Cyprus problem. He also called for people to remain unified. He said this was not the time for the political leadership to stand down and that the EU stance on the missiles was blackmail.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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