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Thursday, December 31, 1998 Published at 03:16 GMT

World: Europe

Greek press: Disappointment and concern

By Michael Kosmides of the BBC World Service

[ image: The S-300 missiles may end up on the Greek island of Crete]
The S-300 missiles may end up on the Greek island of Crete
The decision of Cyprus to deploy the Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missile system in Greece may have received a broad welcome in the West, but it has created controversy in Greece and Cyprus.

Disappointment and soul-searching characterised the majority of the Greek and Greek Cypriot press.

The Cypriot daily Mahi described the decision not to deploy the missiles as "shameful". It was even more so for Simerini, which said the Greek and the Cypriot government "buried the missiles without taking anything in return."

"The missiles go, the (political) parties come in," says Fileleftheros pointing a finger at what it called the short-sightedness of the domestic politics that influenced the handling of the whole affair.

Disappointment in Greece

A similar mood prevails among the media in Greece, with many analysts saying that no spin can put a positive gloss on the decision.

[ image:  ]
"A dramatic No to the missiles" is the headline of the Athens daily Ethnos, with Eleftherotypia noting that "the missiles go to Crete while many issues remaining unresolved."

In its main analysis, Eleftherotypia says that the Greek Premier Costas Simitis and the Cypriot President Glafkos Clerides attempt to "dress with political arguments something that does not stand to reason." Neither of them, it says, explained why the missiles' deployment in Crete instead of Cyprus would ensure the peace and stability in the region.

Ta Nea says that the Greek and the Cypriot government are now in search of gaining something in return. According to the Greek newspaper, the European Union could accelerate its decision process on the Cypriot bid for membership, and the United States could put pressure to Turkey for demilitarising Cyprus.

Dangers looming

Elsewhere in the paper, Vassos Lyssaridis, the leader of the socialist EDEK party - a junior member of the coalition governbment of Cyprus - explains why he believes the decision will make Turkey even bolder.

He believes that there is even a danger of a rift being developed between the Greeks and the Greek-Cypriots. Mr Lyssaridis has already withdrawn his support from the government.

The newspaper of the Communist Party of Greece, Rizospastis, sees the latest events an indication that there is a secret plan to divide the island.

[ image:  ]
Adesmeftos remains to be convinced. If there is no progress in resolving the Cyprus issue, the whole missile affair will prove to have been "a great failure", says the Athens daily.

But there were some - very few - newspapers that supported the decision not to deploy the missiles. The Cypriot daily Alithia said in its headline that it was a "courageous decision for the good of Cyprus."

And in Greece, Avriani said that with the decision of the Greek Prime Minister Simitis and the Cypriot President Clerides "Greece avoided a war" with Turkey.

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Internet Links

Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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Adesmeftos - Athens daily

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Ethnos - Athens daily

Rizospastis - Daily of the Greek Communist Party

Ta Nea - Athens daily

Simerini - Cypriot daily

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