Cyprus will not cancel arms deal

Nicosia, Jan 7 (CNA) -- The Cyprus government has no intention of cancelling an agreement for the purchase of Russian-made S-300 surface-to- air missiles.

At the same time, it declared that it will not use any of its weapons for offensive purposes.

''Our firm position is that we decide how to best organise our defences to safeguard the security of Greek Hellenism,'' Government Spokesman Yiannakis Cassoulides told the press today.

Furthermore he pointed out that ''the government also decides how its defence capability is to be more effective.''

Cassoulides' categorical statement follows a barrage of warnings from the US, Turkey and others about the repercussions of the multi-million- dollar arms deal.

''We do not intend to ever use any weapons system against anybody except in case of an offensive against us,'' Cassoulides underlined.

The Spokesman pointed out that Cyprus has no illusions about its defence capability and added ''we have no illusion that we can ever launch an offensive against the Turkish army.''

''We simply want to safeguard that others will not attack us because in such a case, we want to have effective defence,'' he said.

Turkish troops have been occupying 37 per cent of Cyprus territory since 1974, in violation of repeated UN resolutions calling for their withdrawal. CNA MM/GP/1997

Cyprus dismisses criticism over arms deal

Nicosia, Jan 7 (CNA) -- The government has today dismissed accusations, mainly from foreign countries, that its military build-up would hamper the peace process.

The government has also criticised the US, which strongly opposes the purchase agreement of Russian S300 surface-to-air missiles by Cyprus, for not adopting the same attitude over the years towards Turkey's military presence on the island.

''Those who react are making a big mistake if they believe that boosting our defence capability is an obstacle to the peace effort for a settlement of the Cyprus question,'' Government Spokesman Yiannakis Cassoulides said here Tuesday.

He said the government's desire to see the problem solved ''shall not be modified because of the effective upgrading of our defence capability.''

''We consider that boosting our defences will facilitate the peace process because we see that Turkish intransigence and arrogance stems from its military superiority due to the presence of the Turkish occupation troops in Cyprus,'' Cassoulides said.

The Spokesman said the government will not use these arms ''unless it is attacked.''

''We know very well what self-restraint means and we are well aware of what reason dictates,'' he remarked.

He also said there was no reason for concern and noted that at this stage talk about ''either military measures or a Turkish offensive'' is unwarranted.

''No reasonable man would believe that Cyprus will use its armed forces, the National Guard, to launch an offensive. I would also like to assure the Turkish Cypriots that there are in no danger at all,'' he stressed.

Referring specifically to American reaction to the agreement for the purchase of the Russian missiles, Cassoulides pointed out that the US did not react in a similar fashion when Turkey vastly upgraded its occupation troops on the island.

He said the Turkish occupation troops are armed with US-made and NATO weapons in contravention to US law and NATO principles.

''Such weapons are meant to be used against possible NATO enemies. Cyprus is certainly not one of them,'' Cassoulides noted.

He also rapped US criticism of the purchase, that it would upset regional stability.

''Has our region experienced stability with the presence of 35,000 Turkish troops and its 400 armoured vehicles in Cyprus or with the absolute air superiority by the Turkish air force?'' Cassoulides wondered.

He stressed in no uncertain terms that the agreement on the Russian S300 air-defence missiles will not be cancelled and said Cyprus went ahead with the arms deal with that country which was ready to sell the necessary armaments to Cyprus at the right price.

The US, he explained, has an arms sale embargo to Cyprus.
CNA MM/AP/1997

Church backs arms deal

Nicosia, Jan 7 (CNA) -- The Primate of the Church of Cyprus, Archbishop Chrysostomos, has backed the government's decision to boost its defence capability, following criticism of an arms deal the government has clinched for the purchase of the Russian-made S300 surface-to-air missiles.

''We cannot remain idle when Turkey occupies nearly half of Cyprus and maintains a strong military presence in the occupied areas,'' the Archbishop said.

Once the Turkish troops withdraw from the island, he pointed out, Cyprus will not need any weapons.

''We want to see peace and the restoration of human rights for Greek and Turkish Cypriots alike,'' he told the press today.

The Church leader called on those who protested against the purchase of the air-defence missiles to ''address themselves to Turkey'' and noted that Cyprus ''has a rudimentary duty to protect itself.''

''Let the big powers address themselves to Turkey and exert pressure on that country to withdraw its troops and restore human rights and subsequently we will not need weapons,'' he added.

Last Saturday, the government signed a multi-million dollar agreement with a Russian company for the supply of anti-aircraft missiles, expected to be deployed sometime in the future. CNA MM/AP/1997

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister to visit Cyprus

Nicosia, Jan 7 (CNA) -- Russian Deputy Foreign Minister responsible for Balkan and Cyprus affairs, Nikolai Afanasefski, will visit the island in late January.

According to the Russian News Agency, Novosti, Afanasefski's visit is an attempt on the part of Moscow to stress that any initiative launched on Cyprus should be a coordinated effort involving all UN Security Council permanent members.

Novosti also reports that the Russian official will have meetings with representatives of the two communities in Cyprus.

The visit is described as a continuation of Moscow's active interest in efforts towards a Cyprus settlement and follows a letter by Russian Foreign Minister, Yevgeny Primakov to President Glafcos Clerides. CNA CG/MCH/GP/1997