US 'success' heads for failure

The United States claimed success yesterday in reducing military tensions between Greeks and Turks on Cyprus, but the southern part of the island's Greek-led government said it was premature to talk of a breakthrough.

Speaking after talks in Athens with Greek officials, a special US envoy, Carey Cavanaugh, said there was no longer a crisis on Cyprus and that Greek-Turkish tensions were under control for the moment.

"The purpose of my trip to the region was to, as much as possible, reduce tension that really soared this year," Mr Cavanaugh said. During earlier talks in Nicosia, he had formed the impression that the Cyprus government would not implement its threat to deploy Russian anti-aircraft missiles.

Mr Cavanaugh said that he had received Greek and Turkish Cypriot promises of full support for measures to reduce tensions along the United Nations- patrolled buffer zone dividing Cyprus. These include the unloading of live ammunition from sentries' weapons along either side of the 110-mile ceasefire line, the unmanning of forward positions and the acceptance of a code of conduct for soldiers.

Agreement on such relatively marginal issues might ease tensions that developed after the Cyprus government announced its planned missiles purchase and Turkey threatened a military strike in response. Mistrust was already running high on Cyprus after several people were killed along the UN buffer zone last summer in the worst violence since the 1974 Turkish invasion and occupation of northern Cyprus.

The Greek Cypriots seemed surprised that Mr Cavanaugh had declared his diplomatic intervention a success. "There has not been any agreement other than that which was already in place, that the military dialogue would continue based on what is stipulated in the relevant resolution of the United Nations," President Glafcos Clerides said.

The dispute is but one part of a bigger picture that shows a seemingly inexorable deterioration in relations between Nato allies Greece and Turkey.

Turkey's Islamist Prime Minister, Necmettin Erbakan, taunted Greece and the Greek Cypriots yesterday by reminding them of their sufferings at Turkish hands during previous wars in this century. "The Greeks know us very well and have experience on this subject. They saw the results of what they tried to do in 1922 and 1974, and I hope history does not repeat itself," he said.

Mr Cavanaugh, who visits Ankara today, stressed that Mr Clerides had assured him that "not a single component" of the Russian missiles would arrive on Cyprus in the next 16 months.

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