Statement by the Foreign Minister of Cyprus
Regarding the S-300 Missiles

March 18, 1998

The Foreign Minister, Mr. Ioannis Kasoulides, on March 18, made a statement in which he also referred to the question of the S-300 missiles. He made the statement after a meeting in Nicosia with the Swedish Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. Gunnar Lund, who raised the subject with him.

Mr. Kasoulides said: "We explained that their friendly advice would be far more productive if they paid equal attention to the sensitivity of the people to questions of security in view of the presence of 35,000 Turkish occupation troops in Cyprus. We also explained that the question of the Cypriot people's security and their defence is as important as their EU accession course. Therefore, the one will not be sacrificed for the benefit of the other. We explained under which conditions we could re-examine the issue. These would be either the establishment of a procedure leading to peace or a dialogue on the reduction of forces leading to demilitarization, or both. Our message was very clear. It was also a message which we communicated not only to Sweden which, I repeat, is a friendly country, but to all others who have raised this matter."

Asked whether a possible participation of the Turkish Cypriots in EU accession negotiations could justify re-examination of the question of the S-300 missiles, Mr. Kasoulides said: "Definitely not. This could only happen if talks on a Cyprus settlement are under way and, moreover, they make sufficient progress to convince us that the missiles are no longer needed; in other words, that we are nearing a solution."

As Cyprus' defence is equally important as the country's EU accession course, it is futile to press the Cyprus government to make concessions on the question of defence by warning about possible consequences as regards Cyprus' aspiration to accede to the EU, he said.

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