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Cyprus News Agency: News in English (AM), 98-06-21

Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Cyprus News Agency at <>


  • [01] Britain denies leak to harm Cyprus economy

  • 1205:CYPPRESS:01

    [01] Britain denies leak to harm Cyprus economy

    Nicosia, Jun 21 (CNA) -- British Defence Minister, George Robertson, has denied there was a leak from his government about contingency plans to evacuate British nationals from Cyprus in the event of war on this Eastern Mediterranean island.

    Robertson has also said the media will continue to speculate "unhelpfully" on various scenarios for Cyprus as long as the government of the Republic insists with its planned purchase of Russian anti-aircraft missiles and the UN peace effort is stalled.

    In a reply letter to Conservative MP Sir Sydney Chapman, Robertson described as "unhelpful" a "Sunday Times" article about Britain's plans to evacuate a quarter of a million Britons from Cyprus, should war break out.

    In a swift response to the article, the Cyprus government said the leaking of information by the MoD is "unusual" and described the move as "leverage for the cancellation or non delivery of the missiles to Cyprus."

    Robertson said the article "had no official backing or encouragement of any description" and that Britain "deplores the decision (by the government of the Republic of Cyprus) to procure the S-300 missile system which we believe will not benefit Cypriot security and will only serve to increase regional tension yet further."

    The government of Cyprus has always stressed the purchase of the missiles is a purely defensive move and reiterated that it has no intention of using the weapons unless Turkey, which continues to occupy the island's northern third, launches a second offensive against Cyprus.

    "Suggestions that this article was planted by HMG are totally without foundation," Robertson said in his letter.

    The article quotes an MoD source talking about an airlift bigger than the Berlin one.

    Noting the "complications" that can arise from inaccurate reports, Robertson points out that "whilst the Republic's government persists in its plans to procure the S-300 and the UN settlement process remains stalled, I fear it is inevitable that journalists will continue to speculate unhelpfully."

    He concludes by assuring Chapman that he would do everything possible to discourage such reporting.

    CNA MM/EC/1998
    Cyprus News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
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