Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 134

The presidents of Russia and Cyprus yesterday expressed their satisfaction over friendly relations between the two countries and signaled their intention to work toward broader bilateral cooperation. Presidents Boris Yeltsin and Glavcos Clerides reiterated their intention also to follow through on a controversial weapons deal on the delivery of Russian S-300 air defense missiles to Cyprus. But the two presidents, who conferred yesterday in the Kremlin, released no information as to when the Russian missile complexes are likely to be delivered. (AP, Russian agencies, July 13) Delivery had originally been scheduled for July/August, but recent reports have suggested that–at the request of Cyprus–it will be put off until the late fall. (See the Monitor, July 10)

On the eve of his trip to Moscow, Clerides had reiterated Nicosia’s willingness to cancel the S-300 deal if there were “substantive progress” in talks aimed at resolving tensions on Cyprus. (M2 Communications, July 13) Reports of his talks with Yeltsin yesterday, however, made no mention of such cancellation. The president of Cyprus is in Moscow on an unofficial visit at the invitation of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov. Clerides also met yesterday with Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov. (Russian agencies, July 13) Cypriot Defense Minister Yiannakis Omirou has also been in Moscow in recent days for talks with his Russian counterpart Igor Sergeev. They reportedly discussed the missile deal and military cooperation between the two countries. (See yesterday’s Monitor)

Tensions over Clerides’ Moscow visit and the S-300 missile deal were evident yesterday in Ankara. The Turkish military announced that six Turkish F-16 fighters had just conducted air exercises at an Israeli training center. The drill was said to have been designed to teach the Turkish pilots how to destroy the S-300 complexes. A Turkish newspaper said that Turkey intends to build a similar training center on its own territory. (Itar-Tass, July 13) The Turkish government has both declared the S-300 deal a threat to its security and vowed to stop deployment of the missiles. That threat may be one reason why Moscow and Nicosia are keeping secret their plans for the S-300 delivery date. Turkey has also said it will increase its military presence on Cyprus in the event that the missiles are deployed. The leader of the Turkish Cypriot community, Rauf Denktash, reiterated yesterday that Turkey will retaliate if Nicosia deploys the S-300s. (Xinhua, July 13)