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07 October, 1998
The defense ministers of Russia and Cyprus yesterday expressed a desire to broaden their defense cooperation in order to strengthen the island republic's defenses and further promote what both officials said were already excellent bilateral relations.
Cyprus Defense Minister Yiannakis Omirou and his Russian counterpart, Igor Sergeyev, met on the sidelines of the 'Defendory '98' international trade fair for conventional defense systems, which began in Piraeus yesterday.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Omirou described relations between the two countries as excellent, adding that their bilateral cooperation was based on reciprocity, their common interest in adherence to international law and UN resolutions and international legality.
Asked by reporters when the Russian-made S-300 anti-aircraft missiles ordered by Nicosia would arrive on the island, Mr. Omirou replied that this had not been a matter for discussion.
He said their efforts were aimed at returning the focus of the Cyprus problem to that of invasion and occupation "for it is certainly not one related to the arms program of the Cyprus Republic".
On his part, Gen. Sergeyev said "if there are any doubts, we do not go ahead with agreements."
Mr. Omirou added that the commotion surrounding Nicosia's order for the S-300s was a "deception" which undermined the actual substance of the Cyprus problem, namely, invasion and occupation.
He said they had discussed the current political climate in the region and "jointly ascertained that the danger of destabilization is being created, due to Turkey's behavior", particularly following Ankara's incursion into northern Iraq and recent escalation of tension in its relations with Syria.
According to press sources, Gen. Sergeyev will during his stay have talks with Defense Minister Akis Tsohatzopoulos and meet with Prime Minister Costas Simitis and Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos.
Source: Athens News Agency