Warning to Greece over military action

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TURKISH PRIME Minister Mesut Yilmaz accused Greece today of testing its resolve over Cyprus and said military actions undertaken by Athens there posed a threat to Turkey itself.

Yilmaz's stern comments, made in Romania, came at the end of a week that saw six Greek military aircraft visit Cyprus and Turkey retaliate by dispatching six of its own warplanes to the northern section of the island that it controls.

The comings and goings foreshadow deployment of Russian S-300 anti-aircraft missiles by the Greek Cypriot government later this year.

Yilmaz said the visit by the Greek aircraft and plans to deploy the S- 300s constituted a problem that went beyond the dimension of Cyprus.

"It is in fact a threat to Turkey. Turkey wants a fair and just solution in Cyprus and remains prepared to cooperate. But the first condition for such a solution is to reject any attempt to transform the island into a Greek island," Yilmaz told a news conference.

"Our recommendation to Greece is to stop testing our resolve."

Turkey sees the S-300s most immediately as a threat to its 30,000-strong force on the island and its supply lines to Turkey. Ankara has vowed to strike against the missile system if it is deployed.

The last three Turkish aircraft left northern Cyprus on Friday. The Greek aircraft have also gone.

Cypriot Foreign Minister Ioannis Cassoulides said the stopover by four Greek F-16s and two transport carriers was part of a long-scheduled exercise.

"We had absolutely no intention of either causing a crisis or provoking anyone."