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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 98-05-26

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, May 26, 1998

Missiles to be put in storage?

THE S-300 missiles, the economy and the Cyprus problem featured prominently on yesterday's front pages.

Phileleftheros reported that State Department official Thomas Miller, who was expected in Cyprus yesterday, was "bringing new ideas" about the missiles. One possibility, according to reliable sources, was for the missiles to arrive in Cyprus between August and October, and not be deployed, but stored somewhere instead.

The initial objective of the US and Britain was to secure a cancellation of the order. If this failed, they would be satisfied with a postponement of either the delivery of the missiles or their deployment.

Turkey's continuing negative stance, resulting in the complete lack of progress, did not allow the Cyprus government any room for manoeuvre on the missiles, the paper said, which was why the idea for the storage of the missiles had surfaced.

Alithia also reported that the missiles would be at the centre of Miller's discussions in Cyprus. It also carried the views on the issue of Foreign Minister Iannakis Cassoulides, who said things would be different if peace talks were taking place, as no-one would want to ruin the climate.

He repeated the government's position that only if the reason which had necessitated the purchase of the missiles disappeared would the government change its mind. Under today's circumstances, the missiles would come, he concluded.

To Tharros accused the secret services of Britain and Israel of carrying out espionage in Cyprus, in an attempt to gather information about the missiles. The source of the information was a European country which had briefed Nicosia and Athens.

It said the espionage was not conducted for the Turks; these countries were pursuing their own strategic regional interests. Britain was concerned about losing its intelligence gathering monopoly in the area, as the missiles came with very strong radars, which were also of concern to Israel's military.

Simerini warned that the economy was in danger of slipping into a prolonged recession. With the fiscal deficit rising to 7 per cent of GDP and growth for 1998 at 2 per cent instead of the forecasted 4 per cent, economic prospects were very poor.

It cited three reasons for the situation: the very high wage bill of the public service; the reduced competitiveness which slowed down growth rates; the failure to develop new sectors of the economy.

Agon reported that a ministerial committee had been set up to consider the reduction of the government's stake in Cyprus Airways and the Hilton Hotel. This would be achieved through the issuing of shares.

Haravghi reported extracts from a speech made by Akel leader Demetris Christofias, who called on the government to ask the UN security Council to re-confirm the principles on which a Cyprus settlement would be based. The government should stop waiting "passively" for US initiatives, he said.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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