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17 July, 1998
NATO Secretary General Xavier Solana expressed the alliance's opposition yesterday to installation of Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles on Cyprus.
The NATO chief was speaking at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington DC.
"We do not think the S-300s are a good decision," Mr. Solana said, noting that formulas have to be found to make unnecessary the deployment of the weapons system.
He said at this point there are several ideas, without however, clarifying.
"Some are public, others are not public and belong in the negotiating process," he added.
Regarding the proposed "no-fly zone", Mr. Solana said: "Yes, we will be able - we are prepared if we can help to monitor, if necessary, a no-fly zone or something of that nature."
He stressed that negotiations are just beginning on the issue, not at NATO but in other fora. "And in that case NATO would be just implementing, if necessary, some of the ideas that may be discussed in other fora, in particular at the UN," he added.
On the question of confidence-building measures (CBMs) in the Aegean, Mr. Solana said that he would like to continue efforts for "their deepening" and assessed that it is very important for these to be implemented not only for stability in the region but also for NATO.
"As you are aware, we will have a new command structure in NATO. And, therefore, the command structure in this sector of NATO, the southeastern and in the Mediterranean, will be very important," he said.
Referring to plans concerning Kosovo, he said that NATO is working on four axes: stability measures such as Partnership for Peace exercises in Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), preventive measures such as the preventive deployment of forces in Albania and maybe in FYROM adding that the presence of UNPREDEP renders the sending of forces there unnecessary, coercive measures which would heighten with possible air strikes, expressing hope that the situation will not reach that far, and preparation for the possibility of NATO guaranteeing a cease-fire or a settlement.
Source: Athens News Agency