Turkey on S-300 missile deployment in Cyprus (1998)

Suggested Citation: Neophytos G. Loizides, Greek-Turkish Negotiations and Crises 1983-2003 Dataset , Queen's University Belfast (available online at http://www.qub.ac.uk/research-centres/CentrefortheStudyofEthnicConflict/TeachingResearch/Datasets/Greek-TurkishNegotiationsandCrises1983-2003/#d.en.173636)

Case Summary:

The case study considers Turkish crisis behavior over Greek Cypriot intentions to deploy sophisticated S-300 missiles in the island. Turkish forces rehearse operations to destroy the missiles if they are deployed. Although such action can ignite a war between Greece and Turkey, according to the Washington Times, Turkey's political leaders are reluctant to back down, particularly with parliamentary elections scheduled for April 1999.[i] For the period 12/1/1998 – 1/1/1999, Lexis/Nexis provides 43 results for terms “Cyprus,” “crisis,” “Greece,” and “Turkey” (full text search under European News Sources). In December 1998, Cyprus decides not to deploy the missiles.[ii] 

Case Study Features

Effectiveness of Offensive Policies: 1

Turkey has an offensive advantage in Cyprus. There are four times more Turkish soldiers in the island than Greek Cypriots.

Offensive vs. Defensive Signals Indistinguishable: 1

Armaments are a classic example of indistinguishability between offensive and defensive action. Actions to secure one side lead to unintended fears and escalations of conflict by the ethnic antagonists.

Enduring Ethnic Rivalries: 1

There are “enduring ethnic rivalries,” resulting primarily from the conflicts in Cyprus, Thrace, and the Aegean.

Domestic Challenges: 1

The Yilmaz government faces a major scandal and imminent elections in April. [iii]

Confrontational Policies (dependent variable): 1

Turkey threatens military action to destroy the missiles. [iv]


[i] James H. Anderson and James Phillips, “Averting war between Greece and Turkey”,  The Washington Times,  October 9, 1998, p.18.

[ii] Martin Hellicar, “Cyprus abandons plans to deploy controversial S-300 missiles”, Agence France Presse, December 30, 1998.

[iii] Susan Fraser, “Turkey's Cyprus hero returns to power”,  The Associated Press,  December 2, 1998

[iv] “Cyprus to go ahead with missile deployment despite Turkish threats”, Agence France Presse, May 29, 1998