Israeli, Turkish Ties Distress Greece: Russian Warheads Meant for Cyprus Put Nations on Alert

By Borowiec, Andrew | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 13, 1998 | Go to article overview

Israeli, Turkish Ties Distress Greece: Russian Warheads Meant for Cyprus Put Nations on Alert


Borowiec, Andrew, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


NICOSIA, Cyprus - Military cooperation between Turkey and Israel has sparked Greek fear of joint action by the two countries if or when sophisticated Russian anti-aircraft missiles are deployed in Cyprus.

Following an official visit to Israel by Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz last week, diplomatic dispatches stressed the solidity of the alliance of the two countries, which signed a defense treaty in 1996.

"When we lock hands, we form a powerful grip," a Western dispatch quoted Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai as saying.

Officially, Israel reaffirmed that its alliance with Turkey was not "aimed at any other country," in this case meaning Cyprus, which awaits the arrival of an S-300 Russian surface-to-air missile system.

Turkey has vowed to attack the weapons, also claiming they would be manned by Russian personnel. The government of Cyprus has denied the claim, saying a team of Greek Cypriot soldiers has completed training in the manning of the missiles in Russia.

In an interview published in the Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias de Lisbon, a junior Greek defense minister said any Turkish military strike on the divided Mediterranean island of Cyprus would be considered an attack on Greece.

"All acts of war against Cyprus will be considered an act of war against Greece," Dimitris Apostolakis said.

His comments came as Athens announced it would carry out annual military exercises Sept. 17-23 in the Evros region on the border with Turkey and in the Aegean Sea.

Israel and Turkey also are planning military maneuvers, Mr. Mordechai said Tuesday. He said the two nations would hold a second round of exercises in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea, but no date had yet been set.

In June, a joint Turkish-Israeli air exercise involved action against mock S-300 missiles, which have a range of 150 miles and reportedly can also be used against land targets.

The intensified Israeli-Turkish cooperation has concerned many in the Arab world, which fears the effect of the strength and leverage of two pro-U. …

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