Letter: Arms and the Agean

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Rupert Cornwell is right to highlight the grave risk of conflagration in the Aegean ("Missile threat pushes Cyprus towards war", 10 June). While rumours that the planned S-300 anti-aircraft missile consignment has already been deployed to Cyprus have been dismissed, tensions are bound to resurface in the coming weeks. Athens has warned that if Turkey carries out its pledge to destroy the missiles, it will consider such a step as a casus belli.

The US State Department and UK Foreign Office have condemned the proposed missile deployment as introducing a new destabilising element in the dispute over Cyprus. Yet if Turkey and Greece do go to war, the irony is that they will be fighting with equipment supplied by the US and other Alliance member states. Since the end of the Cold War, Nato countries have sent thousands of offensive weapons to the region, much transferred from old iron curtain positions. Now, despite concerns over the militarisation of the region, Nato allies continue to fuel the escalating arms race between Greece and Turkey.

If Nato is serious about its commitment to preventing further destabilisation in the Balkans, as current talks among Nato ambassadors over Kosovo suggests, Alliance members must immediately halt their irresponsible arming of the two adversaries in the Aegean.


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