Cyprus should issue a demarche to Russia over the latter’s plans to sell Turkey its S-400 anti-aircraft missile system, former House speaker Yiannakis Omirou said on Monday.
Earlier this year, Turkey and Russia reached a preliminary deal for the sale to Ankara of S-400 missile interceptor batteries.
The contract has yet to be signed.
In a statement, Omirou cited the intense pressure brought to bear on Cyprus from international players to cancel the acquisition of S-300 missiles from Moscow in the late 1990s.
But now, he added, no such reactions were forthcoming concerning Turkey’s intentions to procure the upgraded S-400 system.
It was therefore up to Nicosia to point out to the international community that it “there should be no double standards.”
Omirou served as defence minister in 1998, under the administration of Glafcos Clerides, at the height of the S-300 ‘missile crisis’.
“In 1998…I was being constantly visited by the ambassadors of Great Britain, the United States and EU member states. Their message was the same: that the missile system must not be installed in Cyprus because this would create tensions in the region and would undermine, supposedly, the prospects for a peaceful resolution of the Cyprus problem and would pose difficulties to the fulfilment of Cyprus’ EU ambitions.
“Of course, behind these arguments lay the concern, mostly of Britain and the United States, over the capability of the Russian missile system to end the exclusive monitoring of the region by British radars.”
In January 1997, Cyprus announced the purchase of the Russian missile system S-300 for an undisclosed amount, with subsequent estimates ranging from €200 to €300 million. Less than a week later came a warning for pre-emptive military action by Turkey.
In November 1998, in a meeting between Clerides and Greece’s then Prime Minister Costas Simitis, it was agreed that the missiles would be transferred to Crete, with Cyprus receiving shorter-range missiles and other military equipment.