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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 98-11-24

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Tuesday, November 24, 1998

Clerides' missile message

WITH President Clerides' departure for London and Athens, where he will meet prime Minister Costas Simitis, most papers focused on what is expected to be the main point of their discussions - the S-300 missiles.

Alithia said that Clerides, on his departure from Cyprus, ensured that he kept his cards close to his chest with regard to the missiles. He also dismissed suggestions that the missiles would be the only subject discussed in Athens.

Clerides said that the main reason that dictated the purchase of the missiles in the first place - to defend Cyprus - still existed. This reason would cease to exist only if the Turkish side agreed too discuss an arms and troops reduction.

Phileleftheros reported that Clerides had sent "an important message to many quarters", by highlighting the need for the missiles. Ahead of his scheduled meeting with Sir David Hannay in London, Clerides used the missiles as a bargaining tool.

His assertion that Cyprus needed the missiles for its defence, constituted a message to all foreign mediators: if they did not want the missiles to come to Cyprus they should offer Turkey's agreement to an arms reduction in exchange.

Simerini carried a preview of what it expected to be discussed during Friday's Clerides-Simitis meeting in Athens. According to the paper, everything would depend on how determined Clerides would be to deploy the missiles.

A strong stance by Clerides would weaken the reservations that Simitis is expected to air. If Simitis insisted on a cancellation, he would be strongly criticised by both the opposition and his own party. If the two failed to reach an agreement, Simitis would wash his hands of the affair, leaving the final decision to the National Council in Cyprus.

Haravghi, in an angry lead story, accused Clerides of making a mockery of institutions and underestimating people's intelligence with his decision not to accept the Interior Minister's resignation. By keeping the minister in his position, Clerides eliminated the possibility of a fair and independent investigation, as no ministry staff would be able to speak freely.

The paper lambasted Disy leader Nicos Anastassiades' attempts "to silence" critics of Clerides' decision, which was described "a fiasco". Anastassiades had told Disy deputy Christos Pourgourides to refrain from any statements that could affect the outcome of the investigations.

To Tharros reported that Diko elections had shown that Spyros Kyprianou, who was re-elected leader with 75 per cent of the vote, was still very much in charge of the beleaguered party.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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