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Cyprus Mail: Press Review in English, 98-11-27

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From: The Cyprus Mail at <>

Friday, November 27, 1998

D-Day for Russian missiles?

SPECULATION about the fate of the S-300 missiles on the eve of today's meeting in Athens between President Clerides and Prime Minister Costas Simitis, featured prominently on the front pages.

Phileleftheros reported that all options would be discussed in Athens, also taking into account the impasse in the peace process, the EU accession process and the US effort to defuse tension in the region. No decision would be taken about the missiles, even though the Greek government was prepared to shoulder part of the political cost for a cancellation of the delivery.

Although Clerides did not want to jeopardise his close co-operation with the Greek government, which opposes the arrival of the missiles, he would argue that the missiles could still be used as a negotiating tool once their delivery was under way.

Alithia also reported that no final decision would be taken in Athens. "Discussions will commence but not be concluded," a senior government source was quoted as saying. One of the reasons for this stance was Simitis' insistence that the Cyprus government should have the final say on the missiles. Athens also believes than any decision should be taken in the context of a new US initiative for defusing tension.

Simitis had a preliminary meeting with his foreign and defence ministers on Wednesday to discuss the Greek side's options with regard to the missiles.

The controversy surrounding the Minister of Interior Dinos Michaelides meanwhile continued unabated.

Machi reported that Attorney-general Alecos Markides was furious about Christos Pourgourides's refusal to give evidence to the investigators, appointed to examine if there was a criminal case against Michaelides. Markides said he was the first Attorney-general to order the investigation of a minister.

Meanwhile, the Akel leader had attacked Disy's decision for a moratorium on public statements relating to the Michaelides affair. It suited Christofias to keep the matter in the public domain, the paper said.

Haravghi reported that the Disy leadership was terrified about the government's lack of credibility and was searching for ways to improve its image. The party was panicking because support for opposition party Akel was increasing as a result of the government's blunders.

Disy members are said to be concerned about Clerides' public statements. A party meeting even discussed the option of Clerides' resignation if he did not fulfil his election promise on the missiles.

Simerini said the issue of Bishop Chrysanthos may have closed for the Church, but the state could still prosecute. According to the Minister of Justice and Public Order Nicos Koshis, case files would be sent to the Attorney-general for a decision once police completed their investigations.

© Copyright Cyprus Mail 1998

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