- Note - This story seems to confirm John
Whitley's exclusive story and revelation of the plans made at the recent
- NICOSIA (Reuters) - The United States said Tuesday the Greek Cypriot
deployment of Russian missiles on divided Cyprus later this year and Turkish
threats to block it would be a setback to peace efforts.
- U.S. envoy Thomas Miller warned the situation
could get worse before it gets better, a trend that could have a serious
impact on the business climate on the eastern Mediterranean island, which
relies heavily on tourism. ``The S-300 missile issue will be of particular
concern to the United States in the next few months,'' Miller told a business
gathering organised by The Economist Conferences in Nicosia.
- ``If they go and deploy the missiles...it
makes all of our efforts a lot harder. We have made it clear to the Turks
that any kind of threats are also equally unproductive,'' he told reporters
afterward. Turkey, which has occupied northern Cyprus since 1974, has vowed
to block the arrival of the missiles, which are due for delivery in the
southern government controlled areas of the island in August.
- Western countries fear that any incident
on Cyprus could spill over into a wider conflict between NATO partners
Greece and Turkey, which are ethnic motherlands respectively of Cyprus'
- Miller, who had talks earlier Tuesday
with President Glafcos Clerides, the Greek Cypriot leader, and Turkish
Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, said he had not received assurances from
the Cyprus government that the missiles would not arrive. The Greek Cypriot-led
government says the missiles are defensive to protect the island in the
event of a Turkish attack.
- An agreement to demilitarize the heavily
armed island or progress in talks which would render their arrival unnecessary
are the only things that will make them change their mind, they say.
- ``You are talking about two batteries
of missiles. Two batteries of missiles will not even things off (on the
island) at all. They are much more of a magnet to Turkish hostilities than
they are a deterrent to Turkish hostilities,'' Miller said. Miller said
he feared the situation might worsen with serious impact on the business
climate in the island. ``As we look at where we go from here, it's clear
that the situation could get worse before it gets better. And this trend
could have a serious impact on the business climate in Cyprus,'' he said.
- Denktash, who pulled out of inter-communal
talks last year after the European Union decided to start membership talks
with Cyprus, is seeking recognition of his breakaway state before any peace
talks can resume. This demand was the main reason why the most recent mediation
effort by U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke failed in early May.
- Miller said the U.S. administration was
not discouraged. ``Like any complex challenge, there are bound to be ups
and downs. You can't cut and run the first time the going gets tough or
you will never get the solution you seek,'' he said.
- The Mediterranean island's Greek and
Turkish Cypriot communities have been divided by United Nations-controlled
lines since 1974 when Turkey invaded the north after a brief Greek-inspired
coup. Peace talks to reunite the island as a federation have been at a
standstill since two inconclusive rounds under United Nations auspices
last year. ^REUTERS@