Main opposition Akel accused President Nicos Anastasiades on Monday of militarising the Cyprus problem in the run up to the presidential elections, after two Greek Airforce jets overflew the military parade marking the island’s independence.
Party spokesman Stephanos Stephanou said the presidential elections were very close and the administration was repeating old ways by militarising the Cyprus problem.
On Sunday, a pair of Greek F-16s made two passes over the parade about 16 years after their last appearance. The parade was attended by Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos.
Greece and Cyprus had made a defence pact, the so-called joint defence dogma, during the first term of the late Glafkos Clerides, between 1993 and 1998, which also saw a rise in military spending.
The pact was later all but abandoned as Clerides tried to settle the Cyprus problem during his second term. Defence spending dropped markedly with the trend continuing in the 10 years that followed his administration.
Speaking on state radio earlier on Monday, Akel leader Andros Kyprianou said the arrival of the F-16s was wrong, serving only to win a few more votes for Anastasiades.
Government spokesman Nicos Christodoulides said it was wrong to claim that the Greek government was involved in the election campaign, arguing that the jets were an indication of the close co-operation with neighbouring countries, more so with Greece.
He also pointed out that Stavros Malas, the presidential candidate supported by Akel, had welcomed the overflight on Sunday.
Apart from the planes, the National Guard displayed for the first time the Russian-made self-propelled, medium-range surface-to-air missile system Buk, acquired over a decade ago.
On display for the first time were also a number of firearms used by the special forces, including the Israeli-made Tavor.